Okay, continuing with bends,
I left out the second and
third holes because they're
a little more challenging for
Now, you know,
thinking about learning how to bend.
In certain ways bending a note on the
harmonica is kinda like riding a bicycle.
If you were a little kid and
your parents buy you a bike, and they say,
okay here's this bicycle.
And first they give you training wheels.
This is the big difference.
We don't have training
wheels on this instrument.
So, it's a bike without training wheels
and your dad holds on to the seat and
gives you a push.
And you fall [LAUGH]
and after a while you find your balance.
And then you're just riding down
the street and go, this is so easy.
How could I ever have fallen.
And bending notes on a harmonica
is exactly like that.
Once, you get this invisible
thing that's a feeling.
It's kind of a balance in your mouth.
Once you get it,
you never forget how to do it.
But sometimes the process of
getting it can be very frustrating
which is why I started
you on the easier holes.
So now we get to the second hole.
Now, the second hole is different,
right away, and
I'll play the draw for you.
[SOUND] The draw and the blow.
It's a G on the inhale, on the draw.
and an E on the exhale.
Now if you look over at the piano.
Here's G [SOUND].
Here's E [SOUND].
Well, you see there's some
It's G [SOUND] G flat [SOUND] or
F sharp [SOUND] and F [SOUND].
There's two notes in-between.
So this is a bigger bend.
[SOUND] there's more room.
The bend itself, you can get two notes.
You can get [SOUND] G to G flat,
F sharp and F.
For the purposes of right now all we care
about is bending it down all the way to F.
And it actually goes a little flat
of F just like all these bends.
The bends themselves are not
inherently in tune with anything.
They're just things you do.
And if you bend it all the way down,
[SOUND] you see, it's even flatter than F.
[SOUND] Because once again,
what's happening is, the G,
which is the draw read,
is bending down and
the E, which is the blow reed,
is bending up.
And so it takes over the sound.
It's a very weird thing, but
that's the way it works.
And it's up to us and our ears to make
it as in tune as we wanna make it.
That's one of the reasons
I'm showing you the piano.
if you wanna really start bending in tune,
it's helpful to double check yourself
against a keyboard every once in a while.
Am I really bending to an F?
Or am I flat, or sharp of F.
So it's a helpful thing to do.
to do this.
First you have to get
your embouchure firm.
And I'm teaching all puckered bends.
After I finish this,
I will show you how to bend a bunch
of these notes with tongue blocks.
Cuz I know how to do it, but
it's not the way I play, most of the time.
a puckered bend on the second hole.
First you have to get that embouchure
Everything that goes on in the bend is
going on inside the mouth.
It's not spreading out your lips.
You don't want to go wee, wee, wee,
winkie, winkie, winkie.
That has nothing to do with bending.
That type of tongue movement
only changes the tone.
I've told you a little about that before.
If you put your tongue forward,
and you think you're going to bend,
it's not gonna work.
The tip of the tongue has to be
down behind the bottom teeth.
[SOUND] It's another kind of [SOUND],
but it's not quite as low as [SOUND].
It's kind of in between O and U [SOUND].
Kind of [SOUND].
That's the sound it makes.
I know it sounds like a donkey
with a sore throat or something,
but that's the position your mouth is in.
These things feel very
exaggerated at first.
And some of you might be saying
to yourself, is he serious?
Do I really have to
contort myself like that?
But after a while it doesn't
feel like contortion at all.
It's just the most natural
thing in the world.
And you can hear, I can go back and
forth between the lowest part
of the bend and the unbent note.
So there are a lot of nuances in this
one because it's a bigger bend.
You should be able to
bend it quickly
And sometimes when you're
bending this hole,
the funny thing that happens is it becomes
hard to not bend the second hole draw.
And some people forget what note
the second hole draw unbent actually is.
Because when your nose is closed and
you're exerting pressure [SOUND],
sometimes you forget to
release that [SOUND].
And go and sort of,
your eyebrows go up a little bit and
then you get back up to that G.
if you are spending all
of this time bending.
It's actually flat of where the note G is.
And if you hear yourself on
a recording and you listen,
you go, I sounded really out of tune.
It's because when you spend a lot of
energy in the beginning bending the second
hole draw, you forget how to play
the second hole without bending it.
Matter of fact,
some beginner harmonica players,
when they pick up the harmonica and
just try to play the second hole,
if they pull on it,
they'll just bend it accidentally.
That's a bend.
And then you try to teach
them how to bend and
they can't do it because you make them
start to think about what they're doing.
So this is a little bit tricky, okay?
And I have to emphasize to you one more
time that the people who invented this
instrument, in Bavaria in the 1820s,
had no idea about the note
bending as a byproduct of it.
They didn't use it.
And if they accidentally hit a bent note,
they'd think of it as
a flaw in the instrument.
And I don't know, but I've heard that
the early makers tried to figure out
ways to prevent the bending
And maybe the windsaver valves that they
use on chromatic harmonicas were actually
put on some of the old diatonics.
I'm not sure about that, but
that prevents you from being able to bend.
There are these little things
called windsaver valves.