Breath retention

On the Hole 1 and 2 I have an issue with breath control: basically I run out of air. Can I get some idea’s for exercises to increase my breath retention?

When I play the Chrometta 8 this is less of an issue which is, I assume, due to the larger size oc the CX 12.

Thanks, Richard

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Howard Levy’s new book, “Rhythms of Breath” might be helpful.

I received the “Rythms of … breath”. This book is more about playing rapidly than expanding lung capacity, which is the advice I need. 'Rhythms" will certainly be quite helpful as I advance in skills. Thanks, Richard

Hi Richard,
do you mean when inhaling or exhaling? Generally speaking it’s best to breathe gently from the diaphragm when playing harmonica, with your jaw and throat open, with the mouthpiece of the harmonica fully enclosed by your lips so that the front is really inside your mouth. The idea is to move a large volume of air under low pressure, rather than to force air through the instrument. It’s good to relax your shoulders and adopt an upright posture. The breath exercises I recommend to increase lung capacity work best on a diatonic harp, for example train rhythms, as the chords sound nicer than on the chrom. You may want to check out my video on the subject here:

Hope that’s a help


The music of Ave Maria requires a 4 measure Hole1 Draw and then moves right into a 3 measure Hole 3 Draw. This is quite a task. Can you recommend any lung expanding exercises or music techniques to make this a bit less challenging?
Thanks, Richard

The most important thing is to use your breath efficiently, so that all the air passing over the reed is converted into sound. Breathe gently from the diaphragm, please don’t try to suck air through your harmonica. It helps if you enclose the front of the harmonica as fully as possible with the moist inner part of your lips, so that it reaches to the corners of your mouth. You need an open throat and jaw position. Please check out this video: Harmonica Tutorial #1 - Breathing by Steve Baker - YouTube

Rhythmic chord exercises such as the well known train rhythm are helpful for expanding lung capacity. You may want to check out my other videos in this series for further tips,