Howdy Gang-

I got turned onto JP’s site when I was looking around for harmonica tutorials on Youtube. He had posted a video which I can’t find anymore. It was the secret art of Vibrato. Like most videos on youtube, I expected it to be posted forever. Now I can’t find it anywhere :frowning:

I’ve been a serious hobby harp player for 25 years. I never met too many other players so I couldn’t really advance after my first couple of years of learning. Honestly I’ve only approached one player in these 25 years, and even he couldn’t quite give me the answer as quickly and clearly as JP did in this video.

After buying a variety of harps, mics and other amplifier goodies I was still blowing the same sounds as usual. JP’s advice in this one stand alone film was the first time that someone explained how to get this Vibrato.

I was wondering if any of you out there in this forum saw this film? Perhaps it comes with the DVD course. I was hoping if there is any advice from someone else who has learned the art of Vibrato.

greets from Switzerland

Howdy Pantichrist - Did you run into God here yet?! Mwuahhahaha!

No matter, it’s a great question. First let me quote directly here this lesson from an excellent harmonica teaching book I picked up way back when. To wit:

Throat Vibrato according to David Mckelvy

In order to get a clear-sounding throat vibrato, do the following:

o Place your harmonica in your mouth in a lipping position over hole 2

o Tighten your lips and lift your jaw very slightly.

o Exhale a quick burst of air, as if you were coughing very lightly.

o From the same part of your throat in which you exhaled, inhale one very quickly and then stop.

o Inhale again very quickly and then several times in succession at a steady rate.

What you should hear at this point is a series of short-sounding notes, but as soften the edge of your throat, you’ll notice your short notes blending into a single note with vibrato.

2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D 2D2D2D2D

Try the same technique on holes 1,3, and 4. (5-draw is not quite good for vibrato, since it can’t bend down fully, and bendable notes are better for vibrato.) Also if you have a lower key harp like a G or A, try your vibrato on 6-draw. Eventually, you’ll be able to get a 6-draw vibrato on your C harp, but for now stick to the lower holes.

Getting a good steady throat vibrato will take some time, but with a lot of practice you’ll learn it. The new blues sound you’ll get will be worth all the effort.
As you practice throat vibrato, make sure that:

o You are not moving your tongue. (Sometimes beginning players will do this to “assist” their vibratos. The sounds just don’t mix.

o The speed of your vibrato is steady.

o Your lips and jaw don’t get too tight. Stay relaxed. Remember that the position of your lips and jaw are only slightly more closed in vibrato position than straight-tone position. Tightening your lips very slightly helps create a back pressure on the reeds, which, in turn, give your tone the right placement in your throat.

At first, practice vibrato separately on your melodies where vibrato fits best. Think of yourself singing (yes, your harp is a singing instrument!) Choose where and when to use vibrato in the same way a singer would. Long notes are generally best; start your note with a straight tone and let your vibrato build.

Once again, learning how to play and use throat vibrato won’t happen overnight, but keep practicing….and listen to your favorite blues harp players for inspiration!

I’ve been practicing the backwards cough in my throat without the harmonica!

Read these instructions from David McKelvy and watch JP Allen’s lesson on it.

I have the basics down. If you know Shenandoah with hand vibrato, you can substitute and try throat vibrato on the longer notes.

This morning, I woke up with a sore throat from last night’s practice. This is the first question today I’m answering too!

Good Luck! And let us know how it goes!

Keep on smiling!

Keep on harpin’!

Thanks for reading!

BTW: Here’s JPs Intro Lesson on Throat Vibrato! Along with some others too! Enjoy!

Keep On Harpin!

Harmonica Lesson on Throat Vibrato

Lesson 6: Vibrato!

Gaita! Harmonica Blues - “vibrato” - gaita diatônica

Hi Robert, this is a big detour, but I recently learned my original family origins come from Switzerland. Found out our ancestors with the surname of Denzler came over to the US in 1750. We could be related ;D

Hi Robert....We could be related.

If true:

A) It’s a small world after all! :wink:

B) Just imagine Gregmatic & Pantichrist actually getting together?! I shudder to think of the possibilities! ::slight_smile:


Keep On Harpin’!

Hey Robert,

Was that the video you were hoping to see about throat vibrato?

When I read you letter I have to admit my heart surge with enthusiasm to keep helping people…

Funny because I seached for almost a decade to figure out that technique… like many techniques on harmonica lots of teacher who know how to do thing don’t actually know what they’re doing with their physiology… I went to chiropractic school for 2 years and then dropped out to be a professional harmonica player so this really helped me as teacher…

So what I was told by a lot of teacher is that the vibratto comes from the diaphragm… but what I’ve found for myself is that technique is initiated in the throat and then my diaphragm responds in reaction to the throat…

So for 10 years I kept trying to learn vibrato by using my diaphragm and the secret is in the throat…

RELAXING AND DROPPING THE LARYNX IS THE KEY (the adams apple is mounted on the layrnx)…

How do you drop the larynx? Drop the back of your tongue as if you were opening wide.

Remember… relaxation is the key!!!

Thanks Robert!!!


Wow. I love Gaita’s playing.

Thanks again for another gem SPD!!!