Harmonica for Beginners

Ever picked up a harmonica - but found all you can do is puff and blow? Or dreamt of adding a blues harp to a guitar jam with friends? This course is for absolute beginners to learn the fundamentals of blues harmonica.

Neil will take you through simple harmonica rhythms and blues structures, learn how to hold and breathe with a harmonica, and play single notes, scales and tunes.

By the end of the week, you’ll have moved to blues techniques such as bending notes, playing licks, chugs, and hand wah- wah. Neil will have you improvising – jamming with the blues – playing to backing tracks – and finally – playing a solo!

  • Half day afternoons - Monday to Friday - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Suitable for ages 16 to adult
  • Beginner
  • Join waiting list

Course Info

By the end of the week, you’ll be able to
  • Blow a single note
  • Play a C scale and a tune
  • Play a few different chugs
  • Use a YouTube or Spotify blues backing track
  • Cross harp on the first six holes
  • Jam along to blues in G
  • Improve your tone such as bending notes
  • Play a solo

Day One

  • Explore the blues harp – understand the holes and notes on your C harp
  • Practice playing a single note – tongue block or pucker
  • Develop and practice the best hand position for you
  • Play a shuffle rhythm in 2nd position
  • Practice a basic improvisation

Day Two

  • Learn the blues scale in 2nd position on first six holes
  • Learn a vibrato technique
  • More minor pentatonic scale work
  • Practice playing an F on hole 2, a Bb and A on hole 3, and a Db on hole 4 (bending)

Day Three

  • Recap and practice what’s been learnt so far
  • Learn to improvise using different three notes
  • Understand the 12 bar blues and try an improvisation
  • Play a simple tune
  • Keep practicing single notes

Day Four

  • Add some hand wah wah
  • Learn more licks together with some sustained notes
  • Mix a chug and a riff
  • Practice increasing speed on licks
  • Learn some new blues licks in various positions

Day Five

  • Review and practice all of above
  • Talk about home practice and what to do
  • Talk about mics, amps and effect pedals
  • Prepare own solos for the concert
  • Practice as a group for the concert

No prior experience required

Please bring the following on your first day of class:

  • MUST have a good quality blues harp in the key of C
  • Hohner – Marine Band, Special 20, Pro Harp, Blues Harp, Tombo – Lee Oscar or Seydel – Session Steel
  • Two notepads – One for scribbling notes and one for transcribing
  • Pencil and a rubber
  • A clipboard for handouts

Happy Camper Reviews

Neil Buckley
Course Tutor

Neil Buckley

I started out as a brass and keyboard player, from my start in music at the age of six. After gaining a Diploma Music Specialist in 1974 from Alexander Mackie CAE, I taught high and primary school instrumental and concert bands from 1975 to 1984 on the northern beaches in Sydney. At the same time, I played sax with a rock and roll band, with gigs all over Sydney.

Over the years since leaving the public school system, I’ve played with A Grade brass bands and concert bands here and in the UK.

I took up blues harp as an aside to jam with guitars in the 80s while I was playing sax. This was after doing a gig with an amazing blues player – before that, I didn’t know anything about them.

My main gigging these days however is solo – looping a 4-string CB guitar and percussion while singing and then playing over it with harp and keys.

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