Pressing on the underside of mouth

I manage to bend my notes, but they’re not clear and are really not consistent I manage to bend a note using a combination of the method outlined in this link (How to bend draw notes on harmonica) AND by pressing my hand underneath the area which joins my head to my neck and manage to get a CLEAR B FLAT, what am doing wrong?

I tried the winslow method and the tilting method and they’re not successful or get me bends and neither was the “eee-ooo” forms. It seems the only way for me to bend is to curve the mid section of my tongue to touch my upper palate, make sure my embouchure is puckered, my harmonica is in my mouth, press against the muscle underneath my tongue with my hand in order to get a clear B flat bend on the hole 3. Other than that, I seem to get bends without doing anything when enough of my spit collects in the harmonica.

Did anyone else here have this issue?

I use Hohner Special 20

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Hi @HarpieLady,

How long (or since when) have you been trying to learn the draw bending technique(s)? How are your results doing (or trying to do) draw bends on each of the following holes: -1, -2, -3 and -4?

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Been trying to learn for the past two years and managed to play moon rive and beautifulbdreamer within the first month. Study and crap happened and this week I got back on and I can isolate notes, I STILL CAN’t bend. I’ve been on this problem for two years now. I manage to draw bend the 1, 2, 4 amd 6hole, but I don’t require s much crazy techique as the one for the draw 3. For the draw 1 end, I use JP Allen’s tilt. For the draw 4 and 6 bend, I use Windslow’s technique, but I looking back, think spit might have affected my results to assess my ability to bend 4 and 6. Though I’m pretty confident I’m able to bend 1, 2 holes consistently.

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Well, @HarpieLady, if you never could manage to get -3 bends then it might be a reed adjustment problem. This can get complicated for hole 3 because of the three different bent notes that (should) be possible to play. Also, when performing reed work to get hole 3 draw to be easier to bend (and easier to control those bends) you should look closely at both the draw reed and the blow reed to make sure that they are set up properly. Nevertheless it is possible, but not something that you can do it a few minutes – unless you have accumulated some experience in making reed adjustments.

Did you previously play Moon River in C on your C Special 20? If so, then you must have been able to play both -2" and -3".

Also: have you used any tuning app(s) on your cell phone to check that your bends are not only occurring but are hitting the correct pitch?

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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I played moon river without the bends (Liam Ward’s version) and I use “Harmonica Tuner” which seems as accurate as the other two tuning apps I compared against (I prcusly was using the previous two apps for my ukulele learning).

According to Harmonica Tuner, I’m hitting the correct pitch with my B flat bend, but it’s a “weak” hit and I can even tell by my own eas that it doesn’t sound right. The other bends sound clear with my ears and my tuner app seem to agree. I hope I didn’t ruin my harmonica LOL.

Note: Sorry on phone right now. Hence the edits.

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Hmm …

OK, @HarpieLady, then go to one of those holes that you can most easily bend (-1, -2, -4 or -6) and (while using your tuning app) play the one that seems easiest to you and slowly begin your draw bend and continue it until you hit the correct bent pitch (e.g. on a C harp with -4 being the easiest for you to bend, you should see your harp tuning app indicate -4 being a D and, as you slowly draw bend, the tuner should show the pitch dropping down until you reach C# – or Db, depending on how your app displays the pitch).

If this works, then let us know which hole that was and we can go from there.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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@Slim Now the spit has dried up it seems I can get an:

  • A flat bend (by narrowing my oral cavity and stiffening and nearly flattening my tongue)

  • F# bend by simply drawing through the number 2 hole (I think that one needs spit to be cleared out)

  • C# bend by using JP Allen’s drop the Jaw and tilt the harp up method.

The pictures are from the tuner app I use. Though the sound quality I produced with the harp sounds very clear compared to my very early attempts.

I’m thinking of buying another hohner special 20 or opening up the harmonica, if nothing else works.

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Hey there @HarpieLady. I used to have that problem but for me, it only lasted a few weeks to get the bends right. During my beginner phase, I could bend holes 1, 2, and 3 with ease, but struggled with holes 4 and 6. It takes a lot of practice to get it right, but eventually you’ll get it down. I have a Youtube video talking about my bending technique. Maybe you can find this useful.

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Hi @HarpieLady

You have not answered my question: which hole is the easiest for you to bend and control?

Your reply and the pictures from your app raise even more questions. :thinking: So before further testing, remove the harmonica covers and soak the comb and reeds, say for 15 minutes, in warm water that has a few drops of dishwashing detergent in it. Then, run clean, warm water over and through the comb to remove the soap and debris. When everything is dry, put it back together and testing can resume.

Note: although saliva (spit) can accumulate on the reeds and reed plates and negatively influence sound production, most of the time it is droplets of water condensing from the air that passes over the colder reeds and reed plates. The air leaving our lungs has a surprisingly high water content and is approximately at body temperature. Be sure that you not play your harp just after eating or drinking anything without rinsing your mouth and throat well with plain water! :point_left:

Now that your harp is dry and clean, play all “normal” (i.e. unbent) draws and blows, one after the other, using your tuning app to note the result (it is best to write down the results because it is easy to forget what the exact results were when you have 20 different ones to remember). Also: when doing this test, do not blow or draw too hard! Just a relaxed draw or blow. Draw or blow long enough that your app gives you a steady result.

Write down, for each draw/blow what the pitch indicator on the app shows: for example, in your picture for Ab (hole 6 draw) the result shows 843 Hz, Ab5, 24% (which means that you are not hitting Ab very well but something 24% sharper – somewhere between Ab and A). The results of these tests will give you a much better idea of whether the harp itself has any problems (but only if you do not blow/draw too strongly and do not attempt to do any bending).

As @KeroroRinChou wisely noted:

And thank you, @KeroroRinChou, for the video link !!

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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@HarpieLady I agree with all of @Slim’s advice 100%. Also you might like checking out this vid if you haven’t already:

@KeroroRinChou good for you! As soon as you learn anything, you can teach it to someone who doesn’t know. Teaching helps us learn things more deeply. You can teach, my friend!

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Just chiming in here to add to the discussion with food for thought. But don’t quote me on anything. LOL! The “position” of the whole tongue, jaw and inner chambers of the mouth is critical. But can you “really” tell what’s going on in there?

I ask my participants to listen to 2 draw on a C harmonica, then without the harmonica in their mouth make an inward whistle sound (without harmonica) that matches the draw 2 hole pitch. Its probably going to be an octave lower than expected and it’s quite low for a small mouth like mine. So it’s not easy to produce an actual “whistle” but you can still hear a pitch as the air moves across the lips. Then I ask the participant to alternate from the whistle to playing until they can math the pitch perfectly. Then, holding the position of the whistle I ask them to apply this to playing 2 draw. The sound becomes very resonant because now their inner chamber is resonant with the pitch of the 2 draw, and the sound just pops to life. Then I ask them to whistle a slide down a tone and notice what the tongue and jaw has to do to accomplish that. It’s very close to what needs to be done to do a bend on the harmonica but with the harmonica there is slightly more resistance so it still need some trial and error. This is the secret to the bend. It’s not about force, it’s about resonance. It feels like force I believe because we are trying to hold very accurate position with tongue, jaw, and all the facial muscles (which are also involved.) It takes much concentration and certain muscles (including the face) that are not normally used. We confuse forcing the air with the force necessary to hold the position. But the position to create the inner resonance is one key to tone and essential for the ability to bend a little more easily. So “whistle” a bend (with a matching pitch) and replicate that into the harmonica. Let me know what you think. - Corky

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Thanks, @Luke. I was very nervous about how should I approach this teaching harmonica thing as I was told many times that I needed to “earn my position” in order to teach by blues harmonica players who never teached in their lives. I’ve been studying a lot of Jason Ricci’s stuff and well as taking a lot of notes with my lessons with Todd Parrott. I really love how direct and detailed their teaching styles are, so I wanted to apply that to my Youtube videos.

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This reminds me of when I found out that my young nephew was giving guitar lessons. A little concerned I approached him on the subject. He said he only needed to be one lesson ahead of his students.:scream:

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@Corky_Music, wonderfully described and :dart:. It is precisely during these exercises that one can follow the movements of the lower jaw and the position of the tongue. :+1:

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@ Slim Those holes are the only ones I can control and are the most easiest. I sent you a whole heap of pictures because I wanted you to see the results, I was worried if I’m interpreting my tuner app correctly.

In case you’re worried, I have not committed any crimes against my harmonica and have been brushing my teeth and cleaning my mouth EVERY TIME before I play the harmonica and I rinse the harmonica almost every time I play it to remove the spit and other potential debris (e.g. dead skin from my lips) that could be in the harmonica and I hit the harmonica hard against my own forearm (as it’s cleaner than hitting it against my thigh) to dislodge as much potential debris from my harmonica as I can and then I air dry it in a cool and dry place that’s not very dusty and will get plenty of air movement.

@Corky_Music Funny thing about that, I’m wondering if I’m positioning wrong or if people are just teaching me poorly, but it seems like the former since every source seems to suggest the exact same technique to bend, even Windslow’s (forgot how to spell his name) technique is supported by other teachers. I have drawn up some pictures which I was going to post so people know what I’m interpreting and doing when I hear their instructions on how to position the tongue, the lower jaw, but I’m going to post them after I conduct the test which @ Slim suggested. I do understand it’s about resonance, but I’m worried if I can achieve it at all. It’s not the end of harmonica playing, but it seems like a really special part of it though.

@KeroroRinChou Thanks, I have drawn up something to ask you (and any other helpful readers here) about that. Will post it once I perform the cleaning and the test and see if I can bend or not. If I can’t, then I shall post it.

To all readers:

I’m answering these questions and giving a history of how I treat my harmonica because I don’t want a backlog of things to type up. I still haven’t conducted the cleaning and the test which @ Slim has suggested, there’s a backlog of work and a missing screw driver set on my end. Don’t worry people I have not abandoned my mission yet. Will come back here and give an update after I perform the cleaning and the test.

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@stonestone63 If he charges for the lessons, then you got yourself an intelligent entrepreneur. It is true, you just need to be at LEAST one lesson ahead and to have mastered that lesson well to be a very effective teacher, other than having good teaching techniques and communication skills of course.

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@HarpieLady he wouldn’t have bothered mastering the lessons. Probably would just B/S his way through. I can just imagine answering questions by saying things like; let’s concentrate on this for now. We’ll talk about about that when you are more advanced. :joy:

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@stonestone63, that’s the way it is. :slightly_smiling_face:

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image
2 hole draw initially plays G4 and without me actually doing anything with my mouth, bends down to F#

My blow hole 3 was a bit inconsistent and initially when I blew it, it had a slightly different result. I shook the spit out and ended up with a result that was similar to draw hole 2.

Draw hole 3 was inconsistent and it showed a strange range of going between 488hz (-22%) – 492hz (8%). I’ve also shook the harmonica to remove any spit build up and still wasn’t able to obtain a consistent pitch.

image

Draw hole 6 and 7 are inconsistent even though I shook the harmonica to remove any saliva

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Draw holes 8 (1183 hz) and 9 was inconsistent and had the range listed.

When I was doing this test, I made sure to shake the harmonica to remove and saliva and other debris for nearly every blow and draw hole because I noticed it affected the harmonica. I also noticed it seemed like my harmonica was getting much more easily clogged with moisture from my breath even though I have made sure to swallow with as much saliva has I can. I played each of these notes with a pucker technique, though I suspect some of the inconsistencies might be from a TINY change in my embouchure and maybe I’m just poor at maintaining my pucker. For example for the draw 8 I made slight movement of pucker and I increased it’s pitch by accident, but it was a tiny-hard-to-notice size movement.

I have avoided attempted doing bends when I did this test

@Slim

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Thank you for your reply, @HarpieLady.

Having followed your messages on the forum I have concluded that your difficulties are beyond my skill level and training. It would be most effective to seek in person assistance and (ideally) from someone professionally trained.

There is always hope that patient practice, working on each problem without trying to force your results could bring success.

Good luck,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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