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Playing the Harmonica
We will assume that you have a regular, plain harmonica
pitched in C and with ten tone holes, which is the kind most
commonly used. The notes that it will make are shown in Fig.
97. The white notes are the ones you make by blowing, and
the black notes are the ones you make by drawing in. Notice
that three notes are missing—the low F and A, and the high B.
As a general rule, the first three holes on the left are not used
very much. This is chiefly because tunes played on the har-
monica rarely go lower than middle C.
Start by learning to play the scale. Blow into hole 4 to make
C. Then draw in your breath through the hole and make D.
Now move your lips a little to the right so they cover holes
2, 3, 4 and 5. Cover 2, 3 and 4 with your tongue and blow into
hole 5. This makes the note E. Draw in and make F.
Continue on up the scale, going slowly in order to get the
"feel" of how the notes are made. Notice that when you come
to hole 7, you draw in to make the hole's first or lower note,
and blow to make C, the higher note. Notice also that it takes
only four holes to make the complete eight-note scale from
C to C. Practice at first going up as far as G. You will probably
not use the high A and C very much at the start, and can pick
them up after you have mastered the other notes. After you
have gone up the scale several times, be sure to practice coming
down it. You will have to know it both ways when you start to
We have found that it helps some beginners to notice and
remember that you always, blow to produce the notes C, E and
G; and always draw in to produce D, F, A and B. The only
exception to this rule is the low G, which is seldom if ever
played as a single note. This G sounds when you draw in.
Once you have learned the notes, you can play dozens of
tunes like "My Old Kentucky Home", "Oh, Susannah", "Home
On The Range", "John Peel" and "Santa Lucia". Play them by
ear or from music written in the key of C (no sharps or flats).