Exercises for (relative) beginners

Hi fellow harp players!

For the new year 2022 I have prepared two simple episodes of harp exercises for (relative) beginners. I will provide the links below where you can listen to these two episodes that are named Simple Chug A and Simple Chug B, respectively.

When listening, remember that these are for practice, but they can also form a starting point for improvisation and new ideas. Try it and see what you can create using their ideas. :musical_note:

I suggest listening to both episodes before even starting to practice them so that you get a better idea about where this is leading.

Also, as mentioned in the recordings, I use a diatonic Richter harp in the key of G.

Here is the link to Simple Chug A.

Here is the link to Simple Chug B.

Now an explanation about my system for tabbing single notes, chords and rests.

As you surely know: -2 means to draw on hole 2, while +2 means blow into hole 2. In this simple exercise, each note, chord and rest are played for one beat duration (using 4/4 time that means 1 quarter note duration), except for one note, which is played for two beats (which means that this is a half note in duration) and that is indicated like this: [-2] using the “square brackets” to indicate the half note duration. By the way, that is not standard harp tabbing.

I indicate a rest using the letter Z (also not standard harp tabbing).

I indicate a draw chord as follows: -(234) which means to draw on holes 2, 3 and 4 all at the same moment (you need to widen your pucker/lips to do this).

A blow chord is similar: +(345) means to blow into holes 3, 4 and 5 all at the same moment.

So the tab for the riff named Simple Chug A is this:

-1 +2 -2 -2 [-2] -(234) +(345) Z +(345) -(234) Z

The tab for Simple Chug B is very similar so I will leave it to you to write it out while listening to that recording.

Please give me some feedback so that I know what to change/improve in future recordings. :point_left:

Thank you all, and have a very healthy and successful 2022,

– Slim :sunglasses:

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Hello @Slim,
first of all, I wish you and everyone else a happy and healthy New Year. I just listened to your MP3 and it sounds very good. I thank you for your trouble. As you know, I don’t have the time and focus right now to learn and hopefully play. But I’ll save it for later and look forward to it. Many greetings from Astrid

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Hi @Slim,

Those are great exercises. Call and response, shifting between single notes and chords. Simple, yet very effective for building muscle memory, as well as developing the ear for hearing the phrases.

I use a software package called “Guitar Pro” that I enter the music notation into. Then I use the lyrics tool in the software to enter the harmonica tab (blows and draws). I can assign any instrument I want to play, like guitar or piano, and adjust tempo. Now I can loop sections, and play along to my hearts content. I do most of my practice routine in this way.

I hope you don’t mind if I “steal” these to add to my practice routine.

Thanks for your hard work on these. :smiley:

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Hi @PineComb,

I am very happy to hear that you enjoy the little exercises. :partying_face: You definitely have seen the goals to which I am trying to steer beginners. And feel free to “steal” these and add them to your practice routine.

By combining these two very elementary and even boring riffs I hope that beginners can start to appreciate what can be done without knowing or using a lot of fancy techniques. And as they learn new techniques (such as bending) they can make these riffs even more interesting. Even something as simple as using hand wahs can add so much to seemingly simple riffs. :musical_note:

I am trying to get a follow-up recording done, but keep getting interrupted by life! I’ll eventually get it finished and will post it back here.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thanks for posting this, Slim! I’ve been working on it for the past couple of days in addition to my regular Beginner to Boss work. I haven’t nailed it yet, but I’m getting closer.

I’ve really enjoyed switching back and forth between single notes and chords. I’ve been in Module 3 for quite some time, so it’s been a while since I’ve played many chords (except for Train Groove practice).

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Thank you for the kind reply, @DitchParrot ! I’m sure that you will nail it soon! :grinning:

One of my hopes was that the exercises would complement in some way the Beginner to Boss course. The chords themselves are easy – the difficult parts (the way I see it) are widening your lips the correct amount to change from a single note to a chord of the proper size, and the slight shift in position of the harp in order to move from one chord to the other.

Once you nail it, start going for some variations: for example, see if an even wider chord still works; or see if playing some “dirty” single notes works (like maybe instead of playing +2, how does +(12) or +(23) work?). Give your imagination a workout. The main thing, however, is not just to work hard, but to work hard while having fun! :+1:

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thanks for posting.

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You are more than welcome @Poppo !!

I actually had you in mind when I came up with the idea for these recordings. With your COPD I thought that playing these exercises very slowly on your low C harp, or even on your G harp, might be of some help. This is also why I did not include any bends in the exercise instructions, although anyone is feel free to use bends and see how they work.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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OK, all you harpisti out there: I have finished the final episode of my “Exercises for (relative) beginners” and you can listen to it using the following link: Gospel-like Chug.

I hope that this is something that can help you to see how simple riffs can evolve into more interesting things that are also good learning material.

That’s all for now …

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Your playing is so beautiful at the end of this. I could listen to you play all day! :raised_hands:t3:

NICE STUFF MAN!

Rock on,
Luke

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Thank you very much, Luke @Luke !! I attempted at the end of the second episode and at the end of this last one to give some inspiration to those just getting started with improvisation – to show them (without explanation) some simple variations that do not use any bends, just clean single notes and chords.

I know that the instructions are not the most interesting to listen and endure :sleeping_bed: :sleeping: , but hopefully some beginners will profit from enduring the agony! :sweat_smile:

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Hallo @Slim,
das ist genau meine Musik, super!

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Hallo Astrid @AstridHandbikebee63

Vielen Dank!! Das freut mich sehr! :partying_face:

Ich arbeite zur Zeit an etwas ähnliches nur für die fünfte Position …

Ciao
– Slim :sunglasses:

1 Like