This is a public version of the members-only Harmonica with Howard Levy, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Harmonica with Howard Levy.
Join Now

by level
This groups the Lessons by level according to difficulty.
by style
This groups the Lessons by musical genre.
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Harmonica Lessons: Bend Simply: 1st Hole Draw

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   

This video lesson is available only to members of
Harmonica with Howard Levy.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Harmonica with Howard Levy. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Harmonica Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
The thing about note bending is
that some people have the misconception
that you have to pull real hard.
If you pull real hard,
[SOUND] then the note's gonna go down.
Well, it has very,
very little to do with how hard you pull.
Listen how soft I can do this.
I can do it at a whisper,
because all it's about,
is this position that your tongue is in.
It's what's called the resonance
of the inside of your mouth.
It's the actually size of
the inside of your mouth and
the fact that your nose is closed.
It just happens reflexively.
99.9% of harmonica players have no
problem with their nose closing.
And so there's a vacuum inside your mouth.
So a combination of this vacuum and
resonance creates
this environment inside
your mouth that bends,
the reeds themselves are actually bending.
I'll show this to you later.
And what's going on with the reeds
is that the higher pitched
reed [SOUND] which is the draw reed,
is bending down.
And the lower pitched reed,
which is the blow reed,
starts to make a sound and bends up.
It's an interaction between the two reeds,
and it's all happening
just because you do this
simple thing with your
mouth of going [SOUND].
[LAUGH] [SOUND] You also
notice that the sound
actually gets fuller and louder.
And that's one of the beautiful
things about this instrument.
If you try to bend a note,
let's say on a chromatic harmonica,
where all the reeds
are separated from each other.
If you try to bend a note,
the note will bend down and
it'll start sounding weaker and pinched.
And you can bend it to a certain extent
on a regular, chromatic harmonica.
And then it'll stop, because it's
not cooperating with any other reed.
On this instrument, the fact that
the two reeds are interacting and
the sound is actually transferring
from the one reed to the other.
It gets louder.
And fuller sounding.
I mean, you can do this pretty loud.
But the basic idea is
that it's the position.
Now, the reason I start with the first
hole, there's two reasons.
Your embouchure should remain pretty firm,
just like when I was showing
you in the beginning section.
in case you're having a problem with that,
if you're on the first hole,
it's pretty forgiving cuz there's no
other reeds on the left hand side.
Your embouchure can be
a little bit off and
you can still bend this hole
if you do the right thing.
Now if I were to show it to you on
the piano to know what exact note
you're playing, I'd like to do that.
So the draw is D,
[SOUND] the blow is C, [SOUND] and
you see that in between D and
C, is this black key here.
Which you can call D flat, because flat
means below the pitch of the note,
or you could call it C sharp.
Same exact note,
just called different
things at different times.
So when we bend first hole draw down,
it's a D flat.
But it actually goes down further.
I mean,
you can bend it in the cracks
between all those notes cuz
there's no frets on this
instrument when you start bending.
There's no precise divisions.
So, you bend the first hole draw,
it's somewhere around a D flat.
For now, that's good enough.
I just wanted to let you
know what note it is.
Later, if you're trying to
play very precise music and
bend things really in tune, where you
really need a C sharp, D flat note.
You're gonna realize that if you bend
it all the way down, it's too far.
you can actually practice bending by just
holding the note down on any
old keyboard that you have.
You don't have to have any technique
on piano to press a note down,
and you'll see if you're in tune.
So that's bending the first hole.
And I just want to
reiterate one more time,
you don't have to pull real hard on it.
That's not the point, the point is
it's the position inside the mouth.
[SOUND] And another byproduct of
going [SOUND] is that your jaw drops.
Now I'm doing this on a C harmonica, but
when you bend on different key harmonicas,
which I'll do later,
the bends are different.
If you're bending on a lower key
harmonica, you have to really,
really pull your tongue back further
to get that first hole draw bend to go.
If you're bending on a high harmonica,
like a high F harmonica,
it's way less far down into your throat.
So as you progress as a harmonica player,
you'll learn and I'll teach
you how to play on the low mid range,
which the C is, and the high harmonicas.
And it's only when you
can really sound good and
really bend notes on a low and
a high harmonica as well as the mid-range
ones that you're really getting
somewhere as a harp player.