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Harmonica Lessons: Welcome to Basic

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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.

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[MUSIC]
Hey welcome to the basic section
of the Howard Levy Harmonica School.
And by this time I hope that
all of you have one of these,
diatonic harmonica in the key of C.
This is the basic tool that you need
to start playing the harmonica.
C is the key that is
the most universal and
simplest key, cuz all the names of the
notes are just letters of the alphabet.
And this one here is a Hohner Special 20,
and some of you who have signed up for
the promotion actually got one
of these brand new babies.
And so the thing about the harmonica is,
it's a wonderful instrument.
It automatically plays certain
things that sound really great.
As soon as you put it in your mouth,
you realize that you can blow out.
You can draw in.
The only wind instrument that uses
the breathe in both directions,
you never run out of breath,
it's wonderful.
However, you can also play
chords on the instrument.
I mean if you just start fooling
around with it,mesiing aroun with it,
you can play rhythms.
You can play chords.
You play single notes if you pucker,
or do the tongue block method.
[SOUND] There's a lot of different
ways to play this instrument, and
you can't see any of them, because as
soon as you start to play the instrument,
you can't see what you're doing.
There's a bunch of things
about this instrument,
that are unique to the harmonica,
and unique and wonderful.
And many of you have heard
harmonica players, and
been inspired by hearing people.
[MUSIC]
Playing blues and whaling away on all
sorts of different things like that.
It just sounds really great and
really natural.
I'm just here to tell you that I will
personally guide you from these very,
very beginning steps on the harmonica.
So the point where you can bend notes and
wail and play blues, but
it won't happen right away,
because these things
have to be learned gradually in the same
way that you learned how to ride a bike.
When your father first
put you on that bicycle,
you fell over, until you figured out
how to keep your balance on the bike.
And it's nothing that anyone
can really directly show you.
I can give you the push,
I can hold you on the seat, and
then you'll figure out how to balance.
That's what bends are like, so, first off,
when you start playing the instrument,
you might notice that, there're some
notes that are missing from the bottom.
If you try to play Twinkle,
Twinkle Little Star,
starting on the first hole,
you notice the note for
you know the da, da, da,
da, that A isn't there.
[MUSIC]
The F isn't there either.
Just the note that you hear in
your mind from knowing that song,
doesn't matter if it's called an A or
an F, it's just a note of the song.
When I start you on the basic melodies,
most of the them start on the fourth hole.
So you have to learn how to locate a hole.
[MUSIC].
You slide in, you count with your ears.
And when you get to
the middle of the harmonica,
that where all the easy melodies are.
[SOUND] After a while,
it gets to be just a reflex.
So have fun with this.
There's tons of simple tunes you can play
on the harmonica without knowing how to
bend notes, without really having
much skill on the instrument, but
it's really a lot of fun.
It's something that you can just put
in your pocket any time of the day.
You could just,
if you have a spare moment,
you could just take this instrument
out and fool around with it and
just get a feel for it, so
that also makes it unique.
It's not like they're learning a flute or
a saxophone or
a guitar that's a large
thing that's in a case.
The harmonica is just
this little instrument,
it's so intimate, it's so wonderful.
And so have patience,
don't get too frustrated if
you can't play all the things that you
think you're gonna wanna play right away.
It's just like riding a bike, like I said.
And when you send videos into me after
you get a little more confident,
I will answer your videos.
I don't have pre-recorded responses
like this person asked me about this,
okay here's number,
response number 16 or something.
I don't do that,
there are no pre-recorded responses.
The lessons, a lot of them,
are pre-recorded, of course.
But the responses to your videos are,
I watch your video.
I sit in front of the camera.
I make a response.
The two videos are paired together.
You can see them, and everyone else on the
website can see them and learn from them.
Just as you can watch everyone
else's videos and learn from theirs.
So, this whole harmonica school is,
it's a community of harmonica players.
Everyone learns from everyone else.
So, sometimes, as a beginning harmonica
player, you'll look at these videos and
you'll see these guys playing
impossibly difficult stuff,
don't get discouraged by that.
A lot of these people have been
playing for 20 or 30 years, and
you're just picking this up.
Or maybe you've just owned a harmonica for
five years, and
it sits around in a drawer somewhere,
and you picked it up and
you tried it once, and
you went what is this thing?
[MUSIC]
I can't figure it out.
All I can do is.
[MUSIC]
That's great!
You're in the right place.
I'll personally guide you through
all the steps that you need to learn
how to play some simple tunes, gradually
some slightly more complicated tunes.
And you can take this as far
as you want to take it, or
just hang out on the website and
enjoy the entertainment value of it.
There's so
many great players playing here,
look at the student profiles,
just enjoy yourself.
It's like a free concert.
You can go to the student profiles of some
of the students on here who just play
fantastically, some of them
are professional musicians
who've joined to try to
polish their skills more.
So there's just tons for you to do here.
So, a big welcome, and have a great time.
[MUSIC]