The Basics of Playing The Harp

Foundation For Playing Harmonica

Want to learn harmonica? Then you have some work to do! Some individuals may think that the harmonica is a difficult instrument to learn how to play. Others may think that the instrument looks so easy that it will be no problem to master. The truth, however, tends to lie somewhere in the middle.

Understanding Airflow

Before you get serious about playing the harmonica, you have to become familiar with the instrument and how it works. Practice blowing air in and sucking air out (drawing) and listen to the sounds that are being produced. During this process, you will likely notice that some holes are easier to play than others and you may run out of air on some notes. Take note of what you notice, so you can begin improving your technique.

Mouth Positioning

To play the instrument, correctly you have to form a complete seal with your lips and the instrument. This seal can be done with the harmonica on the edge of the lips with the lips tight and the mouth closed, many players however, tend to prefer to keep the harp deeper in the mouth and to leave the lips relaxed to avoid producing thin and weak tones.

While playing, the goal is usually to keep the lips somewhat puckered while also keeping the mouth and jaw relaxed. The jaw can also be moved up and down while playing to change the pitch of the sound.


After getting familiar with the harmonica, you need to learn the correct way to position it. The harmonica is usually held in the left hand with the harmonica numbers facing up. Players are usually taught to tilt the harmonica slightly down and to keep their fingers along the rear part of the harmonica. Doing so will allow you to play without blocking the playing surface and affecting the sound quality.


When you start slowly and use simple and straightforward techniques and melodies then the process of controlling small streams of air becomes easier to learn. Take your time and consider using learn harmonica books, CDs and websites to correctly learn the instrument.