How to play the harmonica

Charlie McCoy

Beginner

185 videos

Let's take Harmonica Lessons with Charlie!

How to play the harmonica

Blues & country music legend Charlie McCoy, shares his experience with you & teach you how to play harmonica.

With over 150 videos, you’ll learn all the essential techniques of harmonica playing that will enable you to play country & blues.

These harmonica lessons use a step-by-step method with progressive exercises. At the end of each lesson, you’ll be able to practice your skills with a different song, using a playback & tablature.

LESSON PRESENTATION - Charlie McCoy

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The main concepts taught

Basic Techniques

Note Bending

Tone Alterations

Program proposed by Charlie McCoy

In these harmonica lessons you’ll learn all of the basic harmonica techniques, using well-known songs like “Shenandoah”,“America” or “Red River Valley”. This well-rounded country harmonica lessons will take you through a gradual learning plan. Learn single notes, hand effects & bending & breathing techniques.

Charlie will also teach you bluegrass & country style playing, fast playing, trills & many more harmonica skills… At the end, Charlie will accompany you on guitar & harmonica while you play “Take me home country road” and “Rocky top”.

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ChapterDetailed notions

My first steps – Basic Techniques

In this first chapter, your teacher will help you to choose your first harmonica to start playing. You will also see the different tones and notes played with a C tuned harmonica.

 

Charlie Mc Coy will firstly explain which type of harmonica to choose to begin this course. He will also explain that his harmonica is tuned in C. Every following lesson will be made with the same instrument.

You will learn all different tones possible with harmonicas and even the possibility to play with another one. Later on, you will learn how to read scores made for harmonica, and play one note at a time with two explained technics : the « straw » one, and the « tong-blocking » one (blockage with the tongue).

Finally, to master your instrument, you will be able to train thanks to different exercices available.

Straight Playing

That means : playing songs written in the same tone as the harmonica. You will train on the piece « Olds folks at home » with the tab to help you. Discover also many other pieces !

 

In this part, Charlie will help you to play this piece slowly, then more rapidly and will teach you to play it by yourself.

Discover the professor advices in order to better anticipate the jump between two holes placed at a significant distance. In this chapter, you will also see the music pieces « America », « Shenandoah » and « Red River Valley ».

You will train with the help of specific exercices to improve the jumping technique, then you will learn the « Cross Harp » technique which is the opposite of the « Straight Playing » which makes you play in another tone.

Note Bending

Here, discover the « Note Bending » notion which is key to play blues or country music on a ten-hole harmonica. Learn all possible techniques.

In the « Note Bending » session, you will learn how to move your tongue to change the sound of your note

Then, you will train on different exercices with your teacher to master this notion and apply it on many pieces.

Working on Speed

For the bluegrass music fans, discover a series of exercices made to help you to develop your speed when playing harmonica.

 

Charlie Mc Coy suggests you to train on a series of exercices to help you develop your speed. You will use the metronome and increase the speed progressively.

You will also work on « Bending Notes» seen in last chapter. The goal of this series is to build confidence in yourself with your harmonica.

Tone Alterations

Now, you will push a little bit forward in your harmonica learning : you will learn how to skip one tone at a time, with the help of the bending technique.

Thanks to the « Note Bending » technique, you have learned to get down you note of one halftone.

From now, you will learn to play one tone below. Follow the advices of your teacher to learn how to play one tone bellow since in country music you will find many pieces using this technique. You will find several exercices to train.

Subject of Application

In this session, discover four studying pieces, written by Charlie Mc Coy and train on playbacks !

 

« The two wholes bends »

« The two wholes blues »

« Two and three »

« Bending in Tijuana »

Bluegrass

Discover one characteristic of country music : bluegrass. Take up the following challenge to catch this style.

Although harmonica is not considered as a traditional bluegrass instrument, it matchs perfectly.

Discover all the exercices available composed by Charlie to learn this new type of country music.

Advanced Techniques

As your playing technique is improving, it is now time for you to learn new techniques, with of course the help of application pieces.

 

Here, you will learn the trill and direct alterations. One of the specificities of your teacher : the Cajun accordion.

He will show you how to find the sound of this instruments on the harmonica.

You will be able to train on « The blues are trilling », « Spring in Appalachia », « Stayin’ on Corse », « Cannonball Express ».

Play with Charlie

Charlie Mc Coy proposes you to play with him two of his compositions on which he will play guitar to accompany you.

 

Find back « Take me home country road » and « Rocky Top », two pieces composed by your teacher himself, that he suggests to study until you can play them only with the sound of his guitare.

Advanced Themes

To finish this course, find five famous country music pieces, to play without moderation, with the help of our playbacks !

« Orange blossom spécial »

« Stone for Chase »

« Somewhere over the Rainbow »

« Cold Cold Heart »

« Country Tunning »

ChapterDetailed notions

My first steps – Basic Techniques

In this first chapter, your teacher will help you to choose your first harmonica to start playing. You will also see the different tones and notes played with a C tuned harmonica.

 

Charlie Mc Coy will firstly explain which type of harmonica to choose to begin this course. He will also explain that his harmonica is tuned in C. Every following lesson will be made with the same instrument.

You will learn all different tones possible with harmonicas and even the possibility to play with another one. Later on, you will learn how to read scores made for harmonica, and play one note at a time with two explained technics : the « straw » one, and the « tong-blocking » one (blockage with the tongue).

Finally, to master your instrument, you will be able to train thanks to different exercices available.

Straight Playing

That means : playing songs written in the same tone as the harmonica. You will train on the piece « Olds folks at home » with the tab to help you. Discover also many other pieces !

 

In this part, Charlie will help you to play this piece slowly, then more rapidly and will teach you to play it by yourself.

Discover the professor advices in order to better anticipate the jump between two holes placed at a significant distance. In this chapter, you will also see the music pieces « America », « Shenandoah » and « Red River Valley ».

You will train with the help of specific exercices to improve the jumping technique, then you will learn the « Cross Harp » technique which is the opposite of the « Straight Playing » which makes you play in another tone.

Note Bending

Here, discover the « Note Bending » notion which is key to play blues or country music on a ten-hole harmonica. Learn all possible techniques.

In the « Note Bending » session, you will learn how to move your tongue to change the sound of your note

Then, you will train on different exercices with your teacher to master this notion and apply it on many pieces.

Working on Speed

For the bluegrass music fans, discover a series of exercices made to help you to develop your speed when playing harmonica.

 

Charlie Mc Coy suggests you to train on a series of exercices to help you develop your speed. You will use the metronome and increase the speed progressively.

You will also work on « Bending Notes» seen in last chapter. The goal of this series is to build confidence in yourself with your harmonica.

Tone Alterations

Now, you will push a little bit forward in your harmonica learning : you will learn how to skip one tone at a time, with the help of the bending technique.

Thanks to the « Note Bending » technique, you have learned to get down you note of one halftone.

From now, you will learn to play one tone below. Follow the advices of your teacher to learn how to play one tone bellow since in country music you will find many pieces using this technique. You will find several exercices to train.

Subject of Application

In this session, discover four studying pieces, written by Charlie Mc Coy and train on playbacks !

 

« The two wholes bends »

« The two wholes blues »

« Two and three »

« Bending in Tijuana »

Bluegrass

Discover one characteristic of country music : bluegrass. Take up the following challenge to catch this style.

Although harmonica is not considered as a traditional bluegrass instrument, it matchs perfectly.

Discover all the exercices available composed by Charlie to learn this new type of country music.

Advanced Techniques

As your playing technique is improving, it is now time for you to learn new techniques, with of course the help of application pieces.

 

Here, you will learn the trill and direct alterations. One of the specificities of your teacher : the Cajun accordion.

He will show you how to find the sound of this instruments on the harmonica.

You will be able to train on « The blues are trilling », « Spring in Appalachia », « Stayin’ on Corse », « Cannonball Express ».

Play with Charlie

Charlie Mc Coy proposes you to play with him two of his compositions on which he will play guitar to accompany you.

 

Find back « Take me home country road » and « Rocky Top », two pieces composed by your teacher himself, that he suggests to study until you can play them only with the sound of his guitare.

Advanced Themes

To finish this course, find five famous country music pieces, to play without moderation, with the help of our playbacks !

« Orange blossom spécial »

« Stone for Chase »

« Somewhere over the Rainbow »

« Cold Cold Heart »

« Country Tunning »

A word from our teachers

"To play the harmonica you need wind, so maintaining good cardiovascular health is very important. The better your cardio fitness, the longer you can play without running out of breath.If a reed sticks on your harmonica don’t be afraid to open up your harmonica and look under the hood. Just give the reed in question a little nudge and clear any debris and is should be back in business."