Terry Mcmillan Lick from Amazing Grace

Check out Terry McMillan’s version of Amazing grace.

Such a great rendition right? @KeroroRinChou turned me onto this video.

One thing I always appreciate about Terry McMillan is the way that he puts 100% of his HEART & SOUL into every note he plays! EVERY. SINGLE. NOTE.

He starts out playing in the key of G, in 2nd position on C harmonica, until the key change at 1:51, when it modulates up a half-step to the key of Ab.

Here’s one of the great things about being a harmonica player. What does Terry McMillan do for the key change? Does he have to remember now that the key of Ab has 3 flats and blah blah blah? :nerd_face:

NOPE! He just grabs his Db harmonica that he was holding in his left hand, awaiting this climactic moment, and then just plays in the exact same way he was just playing on his C harmonica, except now it’s up a half-step. (The tabs don’t change.) Ya! :raised_hands:t3:

So this is a great arrangement decision you can plan for a climax, whether you’re playing with a backing track or live performers, consider a key change to create interest and heighten climax (just make sure you have the right key harmonica to play in the new key!)

Here’s a few things I LOVE from Terry McMillan’s performance:

:arrow_right: Downward Slides - glissando is the musical term for it. I also demonstrated this technique in my piece on Paul Butterfield licks. Take the first few notes of Amazing Grace in this piece:

-1 2 -2 -2’ -2

First of all he’s bending into the -2 which adds a lot of color. But notice how he slides down to that -1 at :26. See how that tiny detail adds SO MUCH COLOR?

I demonstrate the difference here.

Even if you’re a beginner, you can add this technique to your color palette.

Find a song you like to play and experiment with SLIDING DOWN into one of the notes. Can you find a note where it sounds cool?

If so, Congrats! :tada: You’ve just taken more ownership of the song, beginning to really turn it into your version of that song.

:arrow_right: Beautiful Vibrato - one of the trademarks of Terry Mcmillan’s playing is his vibrato and breath control, well demonstrated on his sustained note at 2:50. If you wanna work on your vibrato, check out my mini-lesson here.

:arrow_right: Killer Licks like this nice long lick at 2:10. Here’s the tabs for that:

-2 -3” -3 -4 5 6

-7 -6 -7 -6 6

6 5 -4 5 -4

-3’ -3 -4 -3’-3 -2 2 -1

And his awesome licks at the end. Here’s the tabs for that:

-1 2 -2 -3’-3 -4 5 6

-7 -6 -7 -6 6 5

6 5 -4 5 -4

-3 -4 -3 -3” -2

-3’ -3 -2 2 -2 2 -2 2

-1’ -1 -1’ -1 -1’ -1

Since he’s playing a Db harmonica on these licks, and playing them at a lightning speed, I thought you might appreciate me playing on a C harmonica, slowed down a bit, with tabs on screen. :wink: Check it out here.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that these licks consist of patterns within the 2nd position major pentatonic scale. The root notes of the scale, like any 2nd position scale, are -2, 6, and 9.

For advanced players, here’s the tabs to play it across the harmonica:

-1 2 -2 -3” -3 -4 5 6 -6 -7 -8 8 9 -10 10’

10’ -10 9 8 -8 -7 -6 6 5 -4 -3 -3” -2 2 -1

If you’re a beginner, it’s still great to practice this scale, just skip the bends. Here’s the tabs:

-1 2 -2 -3 -4 5 6 -6 -7 -8 8 9 -10

-10 9 8 -8 -7 -6 6 5 -4 -3 -2 2 -1

Here’s a vid of me playing this scale for beginners,

and for advancedplayers:


Here’s one of my favorite versions of “Amazing Grace” that he did on a Christian TV program, more specifically the ending of it. What I love about Terry’s playing is that he could do some of the most soulful blues licks and due to his phrasing on the instrument, he could make it sound like the harmonica’s crying its little heart out.


YEAH @KeroroRinChou some real nice blues licks there! Thanks for sharing this. Wow, he is shredding some killer country licks on I Saw the Light! :flushed: