Saying "ta-ta-ta" against the harmonica


in the “Harmonica Single Notes for Beginners” video, at 10:01 you say that in order to play shorter notes, one could say “ta-ta-ta” against the harmonica.

I was able to follow up to that point — I could do the lip blocking I think reasonably well according to the advice. However, if I attempt to reach the harmonica with my tongue to block it for “ta-ta-ta”, then my tongue breaks the lip block.

I would appreciate advice: how do I do the “ta-ta-ta”, especially when it is a draw? Does the tongue then reach the harmonica, or not really, does it stay behind?

Thank you,

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Actually your tongue does exactly the same thing as when you are not playing the harmonica but are just speaking – for example, the start of the word “tap”. You just don’t vocalize the “a” or even get to the “p” at the end.

When I do the “ta-ta-ta” thing when playing my harp my tongue touches (or “bounces off of”) the gums just above my front two teeth in the upper jaw at the very front of the mouth.

If this is not clear, let me know.


– Slim

Thank you, this makes it clear, and super helpful!

Thank you!!

You are most welcome, @baldvin !! :sunglasses:


– Slim

Hey Baldvin - when you say that touching your tongue against the comb of the harmonica “breaks” your lip block, what exactly does that mean?

Like you can bounce your tongue off the comb of the harmonica if you’re playing chords, but you just can’t do it and keep clear single notes?

Also, I’m not sure I understand the distinction in your questions between whether the tongue reaches the harmonica or stays behind it? The tongue is actually touching the comb of the harmonica in this technique.

The tongue is very interesting in that it can assume a lot of different shapes, and it can take some time to work out techniques that utilize it.

But my best advice is to play a nice clear note keep the corners of your mouth as narrow as possible (but keeping the deep relaxed mouth position) and then just seeing if you you can touch the very tip of the tongue against the comb of the harmonica to stop the airflow. And just keep doing that. I think that would be a great practice routine to work up to being able to do the “taht” kind of articulation for staccato (i.e. short) notes.

LMK if that helps, or if perhaps I’m not understanding your situation properly?

Rock on,