[font=Verdana][/font] Aloha everyone.
Please allow me to introduce myself.My name is Tommy.I’m a 43 year old ex-U.S.Navy veteran. born and raised in New Orleans (WHO DAT!) ;D
I’m interested in learning to play the harmonica, but I’m not real sure ??? that I’m picking the proper instrument.I have purchased a 6 dollar hohner pocket pal harmonica to tinker around with. I’m having fun learning from various you tube vids and the vids Mr. sends out. still having problems chugging though. :’(
The biggest problem I am having is that I had a stroke 2 years ago, however I’m still alive, walking and talking and no real visible signs of a stroke victim, I’m blessed in many ways and am very thankful. The lasting side effects from it have left me with short term memory loss (which is not a good thing when trying to learn patterns and such.) and also it has left me with limited but not complete loss of my left extremities, which,of course, includes my left hand, which makes cupping the harmonica a not so easy task, but not totally impossible.I’m hoping that by playing the harmonica will provide some rehabilitation to my hand. oh, BTW, I recently received a Big River Harp in the key of G. as a gift, but it’s hard for me to take out the “good” harmonica with begin such a novice. I plan on investing in Mr. Allens DVD’s when $$ allows. I’m on disability and it’s not a high salaried position, I’m afraid. I’d hate to shell out the cash for it if later I find out that the harmonica was not such a great idea due to my situation and condition.
any thoughts or comments will be appreciated and seriously considered. thanks guys and remember Harmonica players tongue faster. :stuck_out_tongue:
leze le bon temps roulette,

Good luck and welcome Tommy,

I can tell you this I started playing 2 1 /2 years ago and I still today have a very high passion for this instrument
I love playing all day long.

I did invest in the jp course along with other stuff and it’s helped me out a lot.

Harp On!!

You can definitely chug one handed. Try whispering Chick, Chick, Chick while exhaling and Chuck, Chuck, Chuck when inhaling. Also Chucka, Chucka on the inhale and chicka chika on the exhale. You can also mix it up like chick chick chick chicka chicka, chuck chuck chuka chuka. There aren’t any hard and fast rules to chugging, just have fun till it sounds good and remember if it sounds good it is good. If it doesn’t sound good but you’re still having fun then who cares, keep on chuggin.

Welcome to the forum.

Hello, Tommy! Welcome! I don’t think that there are any set laws on how you should hold, cup, chug, or play a harmonica. Find something that makes you comfortable and go with it. I have been playing at it for 2 years, I still can’t chug well, on the harmonica anyway. So, have FUN! Look forward to hearing your progress! Look around and listen to some of us who have posted tunes, and you will see that we are having a BLAST! ;D

Chug, the good news is that the blues patterns are improvised. So alot of the fun won’t have to be memorized.

Hey Tommy, welcome to the “nut house” which is run by the inmates lead by a guy who goes by the name of “Street Player Dude”, and we call it a harmonica forum! Regarding the memory loss, I’m 72 years old and I know I forget more every day than I remember, so welcome to that club as well. Tommy I find that I play the harp more often with just one hand (my right hand) without cupping than I do using both hands. When $ allow get JP’s course, you’ll not be dissapointed.


Welcome aboard, and I agree with Barry.
I’m glad I was blessed with the course.
But like JP and Barry have said before; make that harp style your own.


I’m greatly appreciative of the responses guys. seems like a good group of fella’s. I’m looking forward to learning from guys and anticipate being a harper for some time to come. thanks again.

Tommy :slight_smile:

Hey Tommy, this is between just you and me, but I want to warn you about something in this forum. It’s about Street Player Dude, be careful what you ask him because he instantly becomes a author and writes a novel. Keep this to yourself, I don’t want him to know I said this. Ok?


Cupping isn’t even nessessary it’s just an articulation! Think of all the players that sound great playing from a neck holder and never touch the harp with either hand.
The harp you have will do till you start learning to bend and you will want a better harp in the key of C as most lessons and tunes to the lesson will be in the key of C. But you seem in good shape to get your foot in the door and see if it’s for you.
Check out
and the forum string here titled
links,links,and more links or something like that.
Best of luck and start harpin!

ty p.b. will do that and ty again

Barry: for the right price I can keep practically anything a secret :stuck_out_tongue:

Aloha Tommy,

The harmonica is one of the few instruments that can be played without hands. There have been many great harmonica players who only played with one hand, or without using hands at all. DeFord Bailey is one name that comes to mind. He was a harmonica player who always played with one hand, and never used any hand effects. DeFord contracted polio when he was three years old; a disease that was almost always fatal in the early 1900s. He was confined to bed for a year and he was only able to move his head and his arms. This is the time when he developed his unique, one handed playing style. He would lie in bed all day, listening to the sounds of dogs howling, hens cackling, and trains rumbling in the distance. DeFord would then emulate those sounds with his harmonica! DeFord Bailey eventually recovered from the illness, and became one of the greatest harmonica players of all time. He inspired countless people to play the harmonica, and also influenced many harmonica players of his days such as Sonny Terry.

Here are some rare recordings of Mr. Bailey:

Fox Chase -
DeFord Bailey - Fox Chase

Pan American Blues -
DeFord Bailey - Pan American Blues

Gwen Foster is another name that comes to mind. Foster generally played the harmonica in a rack, and used his hands to play the guitar. He had a very distinctive harmonica style. I’d say one of the most distinctive styles in the history of the instrument. Listen to some of his recordings here:

I hope that you can now see what is possible on a harmonica without using two hands. “Wah wah” sounds are good, and it is probably not possible to create them without using two hands. However, they are not everything. There are lots of things that can be done on a harmonica without using hands.

And therefore…Harp’ on my man!

Your harmonica buddy,