No, this is not the punch line to the old joke: “How did the constipated mathematician solve his problem?”
He worked it all out….
Okay, it’s still funny. However, rather, this is about JP Allen’s lessons on learning Bending!
On his vids and dvds, from his experiences in teaching, he says that when he just hears a new player attempt their bending, he can always tell what they’re doing with their tongue.
He says a lot of new students have trouble with the placement of their tongues, and he wishes (and humorously) that he could reach inside their mouths and show them what they’re really doing!
Yikes! I’m so glad he’s over on the islands and I’m way over on the other side of the mainland!
But it’s all good! Why? Because this also led to another one of my Aha-Eureka moments I’d like to share with you! So here goes:
Okay, I already discussed how I’m a big fan of David Harp, and through his books and such, I found the Aha-Eureka moment of helping everyone find their own center!
Now Dave Harp, Jon Gindick, Howard Levy and all great teachers talk about keeping the tongue flat and then pulling it back in your mouth to bend a note.
JP even goes ahead and demonstrates (again humorously) in a close-up what he does with his tongue! He virtually says you have to know what your tongue is doing in order to bend those notes down!
Well, honestly, I didn’t know what my tongue was actually doing; and neither did I want him reaching through the screen to show me! Again Yikes!
One fine day, some lyrics popped into my head. I sharpened a pencil to begin writing them down. I also poured a JD & Coke to get me in a more funner mood!
Using the eraser end as a swizzle stick, I stirred my drink, then stuck it in my mouth. Viola! I ran into the bathroom, where my big mirror is – And an Aha-Eureka moment was born! Check it out:
In front of a mirror, take a pencil with the eraser end (dripping with your favorite adult beverage or not) and place it on your tongue.
Unless you’re a fan of your own gag reflexes and who isn’t – Well, here, just place it halfway on your tongue.
While looking in the mirror, you’ll see the pencil resting across your lower lip, teeth and tongue. Don’t do anything now except breath through your mouth, in and out.
Hold the pencil in your mouth until you develop the muscle memory of where your flattened tongue should be. Should actually take less than one whole minute at that!
Now slowly watch as you pull your tongue backwards into your mouth. The pencil will be your guide. Pulling your tongue back, you’ll be able to curl it up too!
If you do this all correctly: A) the tip of the tongue will be at the end of the eraser; and yet more importantly B) your tongue will actually block your mouth’s airway and you’ll end up breathing through your nose! Go ahead now and try it!
Practice this a few times until you develop the muscles memory for it. This may actually take longer than a minute! But it’s well worth the effort to be sure!
Thing is: From where your tongue lays flat (from one extreme) behind your lower teeth, on the bottom of your mouth to where it curls all the way up blocking your airflow (to other extreme) is where you’ll find your bends!
So set your pencil (and drink) down – Pick up your harmonica – And on any 1-4 hole, start inhaling while pulling that tongue straight back and curling it up slowly, very slowly!
Viola! I’m pretty sure I (or even JP) have to be there to know you’re starting your own bending already!
Let us know if this helps you too in any way! Anyways…
Congratulations! Cheers to JP Allen! A JD & Coke! A constipated mathematician! A pencil! And another Aha-Eureka moment at that!
Keep on smiling!
Keep on harpin’!
Thanks for reading!