The harmonica is a fascinating instrument used in many genres of music all over the world. but is harmonica easy to learn? Is it even possible for a beginner to play the harmonica right away?
The aim of this article is to answer these questions so that musicians who are interested in learning how to play the harmonica have an idea of what they should expect.
Table of Contents
Is Harmonica Easy To Learn?
- What is a Harmonica?
- Is Harmonica Easy To Learn?
- What Is the Biggest Challenge When Learning How to Play the Harmonica?
- Top 4 Tips on Learning How to Play the Harmonica
- What Is the Difference Between Diatonic and Chromatic Harmonica?
- What Are the Different Types of Harmonica?
- Learning Tips and Tricks for Playing the Harmonica
- Best Harmonicas for Beginners – How Do You Choose One?
- How Do You Choose the Right Harmonica for a Beginner?
- Buying a Harmonica for a Child
- Buying a Harmonica as a Gift
- What Are the Best Harmonica Brands?
- Can You Teach Yourself the Harmonica? Pros and Cons
Is Harmonica Easy To Learn?
What is a Harmonica?
The harmonica, known as a free-reed instrument, is a small hand-held instrument that has been estimated to have been around for over 400 years.
A harmonica contains many reeds situated in a row. Each reed is given air from the player’s breath and this causes it to vibrate at a certain frequency thus creating sound waves.
When multiple harmonicas are played together, the different frequencies of vibration create new sounds referred to as chords.
Is Harmonica Easy To Learn?
As with any other instrument, there is always going to be an initial struggle when playing the harmonica. It takes time and effort before you start being able to produce good sound. However, even though the harmonica is an instrument that might be harder to learn than other instruments such as piano, you can still expect it to be relatively easy.
The mechanics behind the harmonica are not nearly as complex as those of a guitar or a flute and once you get past your initial struggles and get used to how the instrument functions, you will see that it is actually easier than it looks.
What Is the Biggest Challenge When Learning How to Play the Harmonica?
The real challenge when learning how to play the harmonica is mastering breathing techniques. You need breath support in order to make long notes or produce any sound at all on this instrument. Every note has two holes: one blow and one draw hole. Blow holes are on the left and draw holes are on the right. To make a note, you need air to pass through the holes.
While the airflow is simple enough in itself, getting that strong constant sound out of the harmonica can be much harder than it looks.
You Have To Learn How To Breathe Properly In Order To Make Notes
Many people struggle when learning how to play the harmonica because it feels like they are suffocating or straining their lungs while breathing. This is not true and there is almost no reason why you should feel any discomfort when playing this instrument. However, mastering breathing techniques and producing sounds on this instrument does take some effort.
Top 4 Tips on Learning How to Play the Harmonica
When it comes to the question of ‘Is Harmonica Easy to Learn’ We’ve put together some tips on learning to play the harmonica:
1. A harmonica is a relatively cheap instrument to learn, but you should remember to treat it with care and respect as some of them can be quite fragile.
2. Realise that learning how to play harmonica will take time and patience – there are no shortcuts here! This easy guide offers advice on learning some basic techniques, but it’s up to you to practice regularly so that these techniques become second nature.
3. A good tip is to find a regular playing partner who wants to learn too as this will help keep your motivation levels high, another great idea is to find a detailed, good quality but a cheap online course that can show you the basics.
4. Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get it right the first time – if practice makes perfect then learning how to play the harmonica is no exception! Keep at it and your playing will improve with each day that passes.
What Is the Difference Between Diatonic and Chromatic Harmonica?
A diatonic harmonica is a 10-hole instrument played using the blowing and drawing techniques of circular breathing.
A chromatic harmonica has a button that’s pushed down to achieve the same effect. A chromatic harmonica is able to play all 12 notes of the musical scale.
What Are the Different Types of Harmonica?
There are several types, including the tremolo harmonica, octave harmonica, bass harmonica, super tremolo harmonicas, and so on. But if you’re a beginner, you don’t need to worry about all of those just yet.
Learning Tips and Tricks for Playing the Harmonica
It’s very easy to learn how to play the harmonica, but it will take you several months until you learn some basic techniques which you can use in your future solo performances. If it takes you more than 3 months to really learn how to play something with it, my advice is not to give up – everyone had to start from the very beginning. After you’ve learned some basic techniques, your playing will sound much better and it’s worth continuing!
Best Harmonicas for Beginners – How Do You Choose One?
As mentioned, the harmonica is one of the simplest instruments to learn. There are many different types of harmonicas. and most music shops around the world will have them. They all look simple because they only have 10-15 holes and 6-10 reeds inside them, but you should know that they are manufactured in different countries, with different models, sizes, types, etc.
How Do You Choose the Right Harmonica for a Beginner?
If you’re a beginner, in my opinion, you should buy a 10-hole diatonic harmonica because it’s very easy to learn and play on one. Diatonic means that there are 10 holes and you can play a full octave with it. Chromatic harmonica is also very popular among the musicians, but they are more difficult to play – there are 12-14 holes and you can play only one note per hole (they’re called “channels”). So it’s much easier for a beginner to start playing on the diatonic harmonica.
Buying a Harmonica for a Child
If you want to buy a harmonica as a gift for your kid, it is better if you choose those with plastic comb because those made from wood warp in the sun. Plastic comb costs less and is more practical than wooden ones.
Buying a Harmonica as a Gift
If you want a harmonica for a gift and don’t know what to choose, consider buying a harmonic minor kit – the kit normally contains everything you need to get started like with the Harmonica like a small book with notes and scales and an audio CD/download to help you get started.
What Are the Best Harmonica Brands?
Of course, you can buy any brand that has good quality. Lee Oskar harmonicas are the most popular models in the USA. Suzuki is very popular among beginners too. Hering harmonicas which are made in Germany are also of great quality and will serve their purpose really well.
Can You Teach Yourself the Harmonica? Pros and Cons
When considering the question of is harmonica easy to learn, many people ask whether you can self-teach yourself the harmonica. Some instruments are easy to self teach whereas some are very difficult.
The quick answer is yes, you can learn the harmonica all by yourself. You can also make your own playlist of songs and slowly learn them on your own with ease and enjoyment. One thing I learned about myself from learning instruments on my own is that once I have figured out the basics of the instrument, learning how to play a song that is closer to my heart at my own pace is a great way to keep me motivated.
However, it’s often nice to have an instructor or mentor teaching you as well. This makes learning easier and more fun. It’s great to go at your own pace but having someone give you helpful insights into the instrument makes the process much better than just diving in headfirst.
Some people also like to learn from a teacher because they want to be able to correct their mistakes and get suggestions on how to improve their abilities. There is definitely something to be said for this method, but in the end, it comes down to what you feel comfortable with and if you think an instructor can help you out better than simply reading up on all the knowledge yourself.
A combination of both would be a great approach, it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. However, in my opinion, a solid online beginners course or tutorial video is a great commitment to making at the beginning of your journey.
We hope this article has answered the question of ‘is harmonica easy to learn?‘ for you. The key thing is to just stay persistent and consistent with your efforts and before you know it, you’ll be a harmonica master!
Share your experiences of playing with us in the comments below.