Tongue Blocking or Puckering?

When I first started playing the harmonica, I used the tongue blocking method to play single notes. As I’m starting to learn faster songs, I have to control the airflow with my tongue, so I am using the pucker method right now. I was just wondering what you guys use for single notes, and if it is normal to use your tongue to play faster songs. Thanks!

I employ both tongue block and pucker with equal aplomb. If I had to guess I’d say I use tongue block 60%.

Thanks for the reply. I guess in time and with practice, I will stop getting that double note effect.


I try to grab the harmonica the way JP Allen shows and in the same time pucker. It seems to work very well.

Eventually it will be necessary to learn both. I started playing curling my tongue into a U shape. That was great for getting those single notes quickly but I found it impossible to bend. I have read tongue blockers say the same about bending, it’s hard to bend when your tongue is busy doing something else. I switched to using lip pursing/ DRE, this freed me up considerably to do more with my harp. Now that I am into the intermediate stage and tongue slaps, chords, and other forms of articulation are coming to light I am finding I have to learn tongue blocking as well.
IMO, my advice to a raw beginner would be to start with lip pursing and expect to pick up tongue blocking down the line when it becomes necessary. Stay away from the U shape tongue block cause it is a dead end. Great for playing good sounding single notes quickly but is hard/impossible to manipulate and a very hard habit to break away from.

Im relativley new at this and really dont have a clue about tongue blocking. I cant curl my tongue and it’s kinda fat so I havnt yet been able to get it floppin in the wind for that fast chug either however I’ve had no problem hitting single notes using the method JP describes no pucker or tongue block. Bending has been coming along too , not sure why to use blocking or puckering but again I,m new to this

As I prefer to play standard tunes, I use Tongue Blocking. TB gives a tune fullness. If you play just single notes, the tune is flat. If you play the song with a full mouth, or 3 notes at a time, that can sound dull, but tongue blocking on the first note, then open mouth on the next two notes gives the piece character.
I teach harmonica and found it isn’t easy for students. It works really well with melodies. A good example of TB is watching Buddy Greene, in his Carnegie Hall video.

they say pucker is not suitable on the long term if you want to bend well; it is interesting whether you can combine well tongue blocking with Bending; what do you think?

I think there are a great number of people that bend very well without tongue blocking.

it is also that when tongue blocking you got to play in rhythm with your tongue and quite many tracks are rather fast sometimes

“Puckering” is all I do…almost never tongue block.

Over the past 50 years I’ve, at various points, tried to incorporate tongue blocking into my harping, but I’ve done it for so long like this, I’ll likely never change.

It’s just a case of whatever works for the individual player, I suppose.