Tucka Ticka Speed

First I’d like to say thanks to JP and the community for setting up such a great service for harmonica lovers worldwide! As JP would say, I’m stoked to be a part of it! :smiley:

I’ve watched many of JP’s videos and really get on with the deep relaxed mouth positions and the use of syllables whilst beginning to train time chug. The “Tucka Ticka” pattern sounds really great, but I’m struggling to do it quickly. I’m quite good a tongue twisters! And I can easily say “Tucka Ticka” really fast while inhaling only or exhaling only, but not when quickly alternating between blow and draw. Any tips?

Jon, from “Old” Jersey, Channel Island in Great Britain! :smiley:

Hey Jon! Welcome to the forum! ;D

Train rhythms are real fun, but building up speed takes a little time (and a LOT of practice). :slight_smile: Just practice whenever you can. Even if you don’t have your harmonica handy, practice the rhythm pattern without a harmonica. I can’t tell you how much this will help.

Apart from that…here’s another tip: I’ve noticed that it helps to keep your nostrils open while playing train rhythms. So, let air leak through nose while blowing or sucking. You’ll be able to move more wind this way.

One final tip: Practice with a metronome. If you don’t have metronome, try this online version - http://www.metronomeonline.com/ … Set the tempo somewhere around 100-120 bpm. You’d probably be able to play along with it without a sweat. Increase the tempo 1-2 steps at a time to challenge yourself. The maximum tempo available on this online metronome is 208 bpm…(which is NOT very fast). :slight_smile: You’ll soon be able to play faster than that! :slight_smile:


I think I’ll take that tip metronome…

Thanks Ashish

Harp on!!

Howdy All!

Was going to post about timing and free online metronomes, but my man Ashish got it started. :slight_smile:

Here’s some others I found on my old fave’s list:




The one I personally have on my desktop is this one:


They’re all good really!!


Howdy JJ!

It took me awhile to get back to this topic because it is interesting and requires some deeper explanations which I hope you’ll find helpful/meaningful. So here goes:

Let’s just put JP’s articulation aside for right now. Instead, let’s look to some others.

First then, although not necessary, but it can/will make a difference for you overall, is if you use an “A” harp. Any “A” harp will do because you’ll only be using the first four-five holes anyway.

If you only have a C, okay too.

But now onto Richard Sleigh, David Harp, and others. Their choice for learning chugging/ breathing is the much easier: Ah Ah – Ha Ha articulation.

So with “Ah Ah” in – with “Ha Ha” out, go on grab your harp and give it a try.

Richard Sleigh (and JP and everyone) says use your abs and stomach muscles rather than just your chest and lungs to inhale/exhale and project. You have to work on it!

Now onto and from Norton Buffalo who used a lot of different articulations in his playing.

A very simple one is: Hooka – Chucka – Hooka – Chucka – Hooka – Chucka

So that’s “Hooka” on the inhale; “Chucka” on the exhale.

And another, my personal favorite is: Hoodilly – Hidilly – Hoodilly – Hidilly

That’s “Hoodilly” on the inhale; “Hidilly” on the exhale.

So go on give them a whirl now too!

In any event…

There are many variations and different articulations as there can be players. I won’t even go into Peter ‘Madcat’ Ruth’s because they have to actually be seen and heard on his DVD rhythm lessons to be appreciated.

And I just found this link through following up a suggestion in another post. This guy here offers plenty of his own articulations too at that:


Nevertheless, what Richard Sleigh seems to suggest and I’ve discovered is that a lot of things are going on with the body all at the same time, simultaneously.

Focusing on your abs and stomach muscles; focusing on your breathing patterns, including throat muscles too; improving your tones and overall playing; developing speed from slow, to medium, to fast, etc. etc. etc.

Yet only by practicing, doing it over and over again, will you eventually get better.

Richard also recommends that you only do as much as you can handle. Meaning, that if/when the patterns start getting sloppy, then stop and start all over! You don’t want to develop and create bad muscle memory habits in doing this.

From my experiences already, I take Richard at his word on it!

However too though, I’m also applying what Adam Gussow says about train chugging here:

Meaning, you have to push yourself a little further to finally ‘break through’ as it were! And I’m working on this as well!

Be all that as it may, and with all this in mind, let’s now bring back JP Allen’s Tucka Tickas; Tucka Toodles; and To-Ta Ta-Tos!

What I’d like for you to do is to watch and listen very closely as JP Allen plays his articulations and chugging sounds.

Because here’s where the big Aha-Moment begins!

As he and all others play these sounds, there will come a point, from slow to medium to a little faster, where the articulation itself disappears; and all you will hear then are the rhythms they’re playing, the sounds of their train going over their train tracks as it were.

What does that mean exactly?!

I struggled like you do with the articulations. I’m kind of a perfectionist as well. Yet I discovered as I went along, my body started taking over.

Meaning, once I stopped my brain ‘thinking’ about doing what I was doing with all the: “Ah Ah – Ha Has” “Hooka – Chucka – Hooka – Chuckas” and my favorite easiest “Hoodilly – Hidilly – Hoodilly – Hidillys”

Then the mouth, the breath, the stomach, whatever parts are included will and does go into a type/kind of “automatic” drive.

Another way to describe it is: You have to actually consciously ‘unhinge’ your thinking brain/mind from the process, in order to let the rest of the bodily processes take over until it becomes an instinctive and natural part of your harmonica playing itself.

And it’s not as hard as all that really!

In watching and listening to JP (or anybody for that matter) – going from slow (you can hear the individual articulations because they’re consciously projecting them to you that way) to medium (it’s a little difficult to hear the individual articulations) to faster (they disappear completely, leaving behind only the rhythms that they’re mouth, body, etc are automatically making with the harmonica.)

Only when they begin to slow down, when their mind part comes back into it, then they can demonstrate the individual articulations once again.

Quite amazing to see/hear really! Because if they can do it, I can do it too! And so can you!

How long will it take for you? Nobody knows!

JP says it took him several months of practicing to get good at it; he told his friend about it – it’s on the dvd! (I don’t know what his practice schedule was either though! Mwuahahahahaha!)

Me! I do as Richard Sleigh suggests: Do it every day! But I’m a smoker, drinker, etc. too!

So do I have great lung capacity? Well, at last visit, the doctor thinks my lungs are in pretty good shape considering! {Considering there’s some sort of unknown anomaly that nobody can figure out what it is, and I can’t afford to get it checked out yet because I have no health insurance…But that’s neither here nor there, as overall I’m still pretty healthy! Thank God! Still…}

So through my walking, biking, exercising et al, I’ve built up my lung capacity again since my accident. And I continue chug chug chugging away every day, every way! Not great as I’d like to be, but not bad at it either.

Bottom line regardless then is: Learn to let yourself go! Actually disconnect the thinking mind process while your mouth is articulating, and sure enough the mouth and all other body parts will take over and do the rest for you!

It took me some time here to explain something that’s easier done than said. And yet, once you get it and/or at least are starting to, then you’ve got it! Over the big hump of the basics at least!

Then go back and watch Adam Gussow and put his lessons into practice; as well as JPs and others.

So good luck with this and everything else you’re doing!

Keep us posted!

Keep on harpin’!

Thanks for reading!