Harmonica Homework (you can do quietly)

A new student in the Beginner to Boss course, who has been an instructor his whole life, but is new to harmonica, and he’s not even halfway through the first module, shared with me what he’s been doing and asked what else he can be doing “for homework.” I loved his comment/question so much I took my time replying, and thought I’d share it with y’all here:

Hey Bryan - GREAT STUFF man! Congrats on re-doing jam sessions - that’s the way to milk some serious value out of this course. Checking out pulse and counting bars when you listen music is FANTASTIC. That’s ACTIVE listening versus passive listening, and will become a lifelong skill that will pay huge dividends.

Here’s some other “homework” you can be doing, even when you don’t have a harmonica.

1.) Posture (a string lining up the back of your head, open chest) and Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing - put your hand on your belly and feel it go out when you inhale, and come in when you exhale. This is great for you harmonica playing…and your overall health and wellbeing!

2.) In and of itself, that’s a great exercise, but then to take it to the next level whisper the the eighth notes as you inhale and exhale, one bar of each.
Inhale: “taka taka taka taka”
Exhale: “taka taka taka taka”
You may notice that it’s easier to do on the exhale then the inhale. I wonder how many hours in my life I’ve done this? LOL. Great to do alone. If you’re in a pretty loud place, you can usually do it without anybody noticing. Sometimes when I’m doing stuff like this, my wife looks over at me concerned. :joy:

3.) “The Coughing Technique” which we use for vibrato or tremolo on a note. The sound we make when do an imitation of sheep or machine guns sounds. Same thing as above, 8 times on inhale, 8 times on exhale. This one you’ll DEFINITELY notice is MUCH harder on the inhale, and the only way for it not to feel SUPER-AKWARD is to do it a BUNCH.

Of course all this can be done with a harmonica as well. But it’s great stuff to practice away form the harp so you can focus all of your attention on it.

Finally, I recommend checking out the Music Theory module if you wanna “do homework” without making noise. The way I learned music theory was exposing myself to it over and over and over again, until it started making sense.

If I watched or heard a lesson and didn’t understand parts, I’d just keep listening to it, and then one day I’d be like, “aaaahhhh, I think I’m actually getting this!”

Hope that helps! LMK if you have any further questions…



Ok, Taka is now my new mantra!


16th notes: TAka taka, TAka taka, TAka taka, TAka taka
8th note triplets: TAkata, TAkata, TAkata, TAkata


… and if you want to improve your coughing technique, do enrol in the Breakthrough Blues course of JP Allen on harmonica.com (great stuff in there and a natural next step after beginner to boss!).

Then you will be getting grilled like a zillion times with it :slight_smile: in so many variations. JP Allen uses it as a warmup exercise for more than half of the course.



Way too many of my friends decided to improve their coughing technique by smoking and inhaling the smoke deeply – unfortunately way too many of them have now passed away because of heart attacks and lung disease (in particular cancer) …

So go the safe route and follow the advice of @p.alfarano !! :point_left:

– Slim


Right on @p.alfarano. +1 on [Breakthrough Blues]! Good stuff :raised_hands:t3:(Breakthrough Blues Harmonica)

Ain’t not other way to get comfy with the coughing technique other than to do it 1 zillion times!

Yes, @Slim :rofl: those approaches are of no avail!



You guys just don’t get it. All of that hard work? If you want to practice quietly. Just pull the reed plates out like I do :crazy_face: