This is an introduction to chugging on the harmonica for beginners. You will need a harmonica in the key of C.
What is chugging?
Chugging is when you play chords on the harmonica. A chord is when you play 3 notes or more together as against playing single notes or melody playing. The chord we are focusing on playing is holes 1, 2 and 3 simultaneously. We will be doing this on an in breath and then an out breath.
What is a shuffle rhythm?
The rhythm that you are aiming to use is called a shuffle rhythm. This is kind of like what it sounds like when you say “Humpty Dumpty”. Another way to think about this is a long note followed by a short note. Really listen to how this sounds in the video above.
You might find that you are running out of breath and over inflating. The key to avoiding this is making sure that you are breathing out enough air during the out breath. In order to do this you will need to loosen your lips so you are letting some excess air out around the sides of the harmonica rather than through the harmonica. You don’t need to do this when you are doing the in breath, only on the out breath.
Once you’re comfortable with this lip loosening you should be able to play something like this indefinitely without running out of space for air in your lungs.
Adding in some single notes
Once you’re comfortable playing the chords you will then start adding in some single notes. This is known as comping.
Play along with the audio clips below of each exercise to get comfortable with the movements and breathing.