Brand New Harmonica Player with Marine Band 364

Hi,
I bought a Marine Band 364 with Solo tuning. I’m finding the hardest thing about learning it is breath control. That didn’t used to be a problem on my clarinet decades ago, but blow/draw to make notes in the C scale is much different. It’s sort of like panting. What’s a good technique for this? Do you just have to figure it out for yourself?
Carol (Car0lBMT)

Hello.
Think of it more like breathing, than panting. When you get comfortable with where all the notes are, you will find if you run out of breathe, you just change to the opposite blow/draw and you can play continuously. It will get easier with practise.

Thank you! I don’t know what you mean by the “opposite blow/draw,” though.
Nevertheless, it’s comforting to know I may be on the right track to learning this delightful little instrument. I’m eager to play it well, and have music in my pocket or purse wherever I go. It’s such a tiny thing to give so much music that I’ve heard artists play.

:smile:
Carol

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Hi Carol,
just blow and draw by normal breathing through your mouth in the, with your lips enclosed, airslot of your harp. Then it should work. You probably take to much air before you start and then you press it to hard into the harp. The whole thing will be - without thinking at it - easier in some weeks. Have fun with your harmonica!

Kerstin

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Hi Carol,
the solo tuned MB 364 is a cool instrument. It’s important to learn to breathe from the diaphragm and open your throat. Here’s a link to a video about breathing which may help:

Thank you, Kerstin! I think you’re right, because when I played the clarinet (for 10 years), I had to have a big breath of air to play some musical phrases. It’ll take some retraining to learn the harmonica, but I’ll do it no matter how long it takes. The tiny instrument fascinates me!
Carol

Steve, thank you very much. I’ve watched your video several times, imitating as best I can the methods and positions you show, and I subscribed to your YouTube channel. I think by considerable repetition I’ll eventually get it. One of my mistakes was breathing like the clarinet player I used to be. This will help me relax the breathing on blow/draw. Also I was attempting to play the harp with my chin tucked down, again like a clarinet player. I’ll remember to keep my chin up, which helps to relax my throat.
Carol

You’re welcome Carol. It’s generally helpful to try to consciously relax the neck and shoulders, the strange posture required for harmonica playing often leads people to tense up. Your head should be erect and it’s good to look straight ahead (not up or down). Try to fix your gaze on something straight ahead of you at eye level.

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I tried your suggestion and it seemed to work pretty well, considering my novice status. I’m constantly impressed with the harmonica as an instrument. Occasionally I get a really nice sound out of it, thanks to you sharing your techniques. That inspires me to keep trying. Sometimes, I just let myself blow and draw through it, and the chords are lovely. I’m trying to play the C major scale, in single notes. What a misadventure that sometimes is, moving the harp to land on the right hole, and only that hole. My respect and admiration for harmonica players increases with every practice. :slightly_smiling_face:
Again, thank you for your help.

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