Deep Relaxed Embouchure Extra!

Okay, I didn’t know if I was going to call this the Deep Relaxed Embouchure {pronounced Ahm Ba Sure or Ahm Boo Sure…for the non-French speaking/word-challenged readers here. Si, si, comprende?! Anywho…} Revisited topic or not. So I decided to just call it: Deep Relaxed Embouchure Extra!

Now anyone who’s seen JP Allen’s YouTube/newsletter vids and/or has the home dvd course already knows JP is great on the Deep Relaxed Embouchure (DRE) when learning to play the harmonica.

Briefly: The DRE position requires placing the harmonica as deep into the mouth as possible – with upper lip more on top than lower lip is on the bottom; and tilted at about a 45 degree angle – all the while still being able to play chords, single notes, etc.

JP goes into great detail about the DRE; and even Jon Gindick demonstrates something close to it on his bending sample vids.

While the DRE is a highly recommended position for playing, especially if you’re new to the instrument – well, here’s where the “Extra” comes in, especially if you are new to the instrument.

Thing is, if you haven’t been able to master the DRE to the best of your satisfaction and you might become discouraged because of it –

Word up, harpsters and harpsterettes: Don’t sweat it!!

Yes! Why? Well please let me share with you some of my experiences and Aha-Eureka Moments!

Playing on a harmonica since I was in my younger days, I got along well enough to just jam with whatever was in my head and some melodies that became part of my memory banks.

Deciding last year to fully involve and immerse myself into finally learning how to play and master this little instrument of choice – I was immediately and forever impressed with JP Allen, his YouTube vids, free email lessons, and now the proud and happy owner of his home harmonica study course –

Which in my view and from what I’ve read and heard from others is: The best harmonica home study course on the planet!

Be that as it may…

From the get-go, JP talks about and demonstrates his unique Deep Relaxed Embouchure method for playing.

Well, to be honest with you, the first several times I tried it – I really couldn’t get a good grasp of it. Why?

Because my mouth was familiar with playing a harmonica already!

Was that good or bad?

Well, honestly again – Since I was beginning all over again – One thing I didn’t want to do is develop bad habits. So was my not being able to get this JP Allen DRE thing down properly good or bad?!

Well okay, this is what I actually did. I actually tried and experimented with different methods of putting the harmonica in my mouth. Meaning, I did whatever I felt and believed was comfortable for me, myself, and I.

Standing and looking at myself in the mirror while doing this, I actually did a Reverse DRE.

Meaning, instead of tilting the harp downward at the suggested 45 degree angle or so, I tilted the harp upward at a 45 degree angle or so into my upper lip.

Apparently, my handsome rubbery flexible lips had no problems doing and playing the harmonica this way.

So since it felt okay to do, I used that for awhile.

A little while later, I experimented with keeping the harp nice and level and even within my mouth. No tilting or anything here. Well, golly gee, this seemed to work for me too!

Yet it was only while I was lying down in bed, on my back whereby I could actually get and focus on the recommended JP Allen DRE properly. I actually became a bit frustrated over it.

However, it wasn’t until I was standing outside my favorite Chinese restaurant waiting for my eggroll and cab to arrive – While playing whatever came to mind at the time, my mind flashed to what I was doing and I had an Aha-Eureka Moment!

Thing is, I had noticed I was moving in and out of my own mouth playing position method and the JP Allen DRE position method virtually and automatically without ever thinking about it!

The music sounded fine; the harp felt comfortable either way; I was relaxed and happy about everything just the same!

From that moment on then, I no longer stressed over the fact and/or beat myself up for playing and/or not playing my harmonicas a certain ‘cast in stone’-type way. And it all works!

Now though, if you’re an absolute beginner who has never ever placed a harmonica in their mouth before – Then Yes!

You can use Jon Gindick’s albeit funny way of telling you to take that harmonica of yours and shove it in your mouth as far as it will go just as long as you can still play single notes. Or better yet watch and study JP Allen’s DRE method to better get a handle on positioning your harmonica and mouth properly.

Eventually though, if you do happen to find your mouth, lips and everything else ‘drifting’ away from this position – And then finding something a little more comfortable, easier and playable for you – Well don’t sweat it!

And congratulations! You’re coming along and progressing just the same!!

Bottom line here is: Every mouth, every set of lips is different! Whatever your own mouth and set of lips is going to do, well just go ahead and let them do it! It’s as easy as all that!

Whatever you’re going to play, you’ll play. However you’re going to play, you’ll play.

And sooner or later, well, surprise surprise you just may find your lips and mouth have contoured themselves into JP Allen’s Deep Relaxed Embouchure position method virtually and automatically without you ever even actually thinking about it!

And it’s all good!

Remember no matter what you’re doing or learning – It’s all step-by-step, little by little!

You’ll have plenty of your own Aha-Eureka Moments if you just have fun!

So fellow harpsters and harpsterettes:

Keep on Smiling!

Keep on Harpin’!

Thanks for Reading!

The DRE in Lesson and The DRE in Action! Enjoy!! :slight_smile:

HARMONICA LESSON-Beginners: Learn the Best Mouth Position

Oh man, I’ve been playing that everyday for Like a month. I can’t… ??? ??? Man she’s good,
I would love to have that backing track and the tab. :-\

Just to practice with.


Harp on!!

It wouldn’t even do it justice to put up an Amazing Grace tab; but I can’t go against my better natures especially if no one’s ever heard or tried it before. :slight_smile:

So here’s one from JP’s main page:

INRE: To Christelle’s Backing Tracks

Yes, I just love hearing them too! She’s such a class act for sure! :-*

Keep on Harpin’!

INRE: To Christelle's Backing Tracks

Yes, I just love hearing them too! She’s such a class act for sure!

I think she uses Garage Band, and I believe she is a highly educated musician and computer geek too
didn’t she say she worked for Apple.

Well with that said she probably gets the backing and tweeks it in garage band to fit her style of play.

Harp on

Hey Street Player, how do you drag a You Tube video over for posting?


Well Barry - If you - (minus) down this forum screen –

Then use your IE or whatever on a new screen to go to YouTube or wherever -

Whatever you find there, go up to your browser address bar; right click your mouse to “copy” it.

Minus that down - Come back over here, and you “paste” it in from/with your mouse.

Here’s a sample of something I just grabbed…

Ghost Rider in the Sky

Let me know how it works. Or we’ll see it when you do!

Oh and don’t forget to PREVIEW first and look around at everything before Posting; that way you know it all went in properly!


Keep On Harpin!

I’m just starting out playing the harmonica, Wonder if someone could please explain to me, With such an open wide mouth, Using this technique.
How can you just play a single note ?. I’m probably missing out on something. Help would be great. Thanks guys.

You place the harp deep in your mouth and when you blow or draw you will blow/draw through multiple holes. If you tilt the back of the harp up (approx. 30 degrees) you will begin to pull the harp out from your bottom lip and the bottom lip will pucker and form a “V” on the inside of your mouth. As the holes get closer to the small point of the “V” the excess holes get cut off one by one until there is only one hole to blow/draw through.
Put your harp in your mouth as if you are going to take a bite out of it. Now start blowing and roll the holes downward toward your bottom lip until it pops out of your mouth, you will understand.

Yup good job splainin that paul putting it simply if you want to play a 4B you will need to block the 3 and the 5
with your bottom lip. Not hard to do after some practice it comes naturally.

Here’s JP splaining it better than me

Harmonica Lesson for Beginners: Single Note Exercise

Harp On!!

I got on Christell’s you tube one time, listening to alot of her tunes. In one of them she stated that she has been playing 15 years or so. So with that, one step at a time. In 15 years, I hope I sound that good! Happy Harpin’! ;D

I’ve been using the DRE method with varying results. Sometimes single notes come easily and then I just seem to loose it. This is very frustrating. I did try the DRE but tilting the harp upwards in the mouth (opposite of JP’s method) this worked very well for me but I’m sure I’ve read that JP does not recommend this method.This is why I gave up and tried to do it the correct way. I supppose it’s a case of practice, practice practice.
Any thoughts on wether the right way is JP’s way or the way that works for you.

I think alot of deciding the correct way has alot to do with what style are you going to play? Fiddle tunes require extreme speed, so pucker seems to be better. Slow blues requires alot of bending and split notes, so DRE or tongue blocking comes into play. JP likes DRE, so that is the style he teaches. Tony Eyers teaches mostly pucker. Others will teach tognue block as being the correct way. For me, I mostly pucker, why? Because I am in Tony Eyers Harmonica Academy. So I have learned to pucker. But, now also, other styles are becoming an interest to me so other technques are becoming nescessary to learn. So iI guess what I’m wanting to say is what ever works best for you for what ever style you are playing would be the correct way. Just because most people hold the harp with their left hand and numbers facing up, is that the correct way? Hmmmm. I’ve seen a few that hold it in their right , some with numbers facing down.
So what ever works best , is right! or left! ;D

Are you having fun?

Cheers for that Tyson,
Yes I am having fun, especially when something I try works well, but, Jeez it’s really frustrating when things don’t go right. I become a right mard arse (misery). But the joy far out weighs the misery at the moment. When I receive JP’s harp bundle hopefully I will progress. Even my two year old grandaughter likes playing the harp. The only trouble is when either of us plays my boxer, Freddie starts howling. Not sure if it’s in appreciation or displeasure, either way it’s very funny.
Cheers mate,

Thanks for the help guys. I’ve only had my harmonica for 4 days.
I will keep trying this technique and hope i can pick it up. All the best.

The only trouble is when either of us plays my boxer, Freddie starts howling. Not sure if it's in appreciation or displeasure, either way it's very funny.
Guess you can add your name to the list of them funny dogs:


Keep On Harpin’!