Do you take your lips off the harp to take a quick breath mid melody?

Hey, I’m playing a celtic tune and It feels like I’m inevitably going to need to take a very, very quick breath during this melody at some point. I was wondering, when you need to take a quick breath during a melody, do you take your whole mouth off the harp (seems excessive and impractical to me), do you just lift your upper lip?, do you just lower your lower lip? or Do you just breathe through your nose?

I’ve naturally kind of just been lifting my upper lip and breathing quickly over the top of the harp, but the problem I have is that it messes up my tight seal/embouchure that I had. In that split second that I have to breathe, I struggle to lift my upper lip off the harp, breath, and then get a good seal back.

Maybe it’s just a matter of practice, or maybe there’s a more efficient way of taking a quick breath on the harp. Any tips are greatly appreciated


Hello @Fortheo,

first of all, it helps to train your lung capacity and learn abdominal breathing.
Otherwise, you have to learn to quickly get used to breathing out through your nose during rests or blowing tones.
That takes some patience and practice! But there are wonderful songs that have a lot of drawn tones but few blowing tones.

Players who have been playing for a long time are able to incorporate very short, almost unnoticed blowing tones into a song. In music, anything is allowed as long as it sounds good. :wink:

Regards Astrid

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Thanks, I actually need to breathe in, though, but I guess it’s the same idea. There’s like 8 blow notes in a row in this tune I’m playing that messes with the balance of air in my lungs mid tune. Anyone who knows celtic tunes, too, knows they’re quite fast and don’t have many rests, so I need to be quick with getting my breath back…

I’ll take your advice and try with my nose.


Yes @Fortheo,

the same principle applies if there are too many blowing tones. Then you have to learn to breathe quickly through your nose.
In general, it is not a question of completely emptying or filling your lungs. Always a little! Over time, you will succeed because you integrate it into whatever music you are listening to. You and your body will learn, step by step.


Hey @Fortheo good to see you my friend. I love playing Celtic songs on the harmonica!

Yes, pay attention to breathe in through your nose as forcefully as possible on the draws BEFORE the 8-in-a-row blows.

Also TAKE CARE that you are NOT allowing air to escape your nose on those blows (pinch your nose to find out - you might be suprised to find that you were without realizing it! The nose pinch test will reveal it.)

Hope that helps! :sunglasses:

Better not to take your lips off if possible, as you’ve noticed.

The only time to remove lips on the fast Cletic stuff is if you need to get them moist again so that they’ll keep sliding!