Goodbye Online Harpin’

This is my very last post for my learning project! I’m sure my boyfriend also wishes it was my very last time playing harmonica. He isn’t so fond of my practicing, especially in the passenger seat on road trips. I found that my harmonica often came with me wherever I went. As I learned, I read everywhere that this is a great pocket instrument, which I found to be true! It followed me on roadtrips, to campgrounds, and to the homes of friends/family!

My accomplishments aren’t quite where I would like them to be, but that is not what is important here. What is important, is that I have learned many things about learning from online sources.¬†I also found professional harmonica players like Aiden & Evelyn, who are world famous, award winning harmonica players that look younger than me. Most of the teachers I found on YouTube were older men who have been at it for years and it was refreshing to see a young duo promoting an old instrument by playing new music!

I found that there are many, many, many, YouTube tutorials for playing the harmonica. There are the very beginner amateurs, to the professional harmonica players. Let me tell you, I discovered a whole new world ( ūüėČ click on the link, you won’t be sorry!) of networked people that love the harmonica. It is a passion for so many people and I did not expect that. I was able to find so many tutorials online that I had a hard time figuring out which ones to use. I had to leave some behind that I originally chose, mostly Adam Gussow, because he was too technical for me. He was catering to professional players who have multiple instruments and are interested in making it a career. He taught me a lot about the industry, but he wasn’t what I needed to learn from; regardless of the fact that he was very entertaining!

It was kind of nice to find so many different harmonica players and teachers, because I could sort through them all and find a personality that I liked and was able to constructively learn from. Using online sources to learn showed me a different side of myself that I didn’t know before. I need to be entertained in order to learn online. I skipped past so many tutorials because they were too long, too boring, and therefore too much not working for me. Online tutorials need to be engaging! Everybody has their own teaching style, regardless if the format is in person or online. The nice part about learning online is that you get to choose a teacher who works well with your learning style; that choice isn’t always available in person.

Another thing I noticed about learning online is that you need to be aware that anybody can post online even if they don’t know what they’re talking about. When I was having difficulty playing Draw 2, I watched/listened to many people tell me how to play it properly. Some people were way off!! It pays to be cautious when learning online to make sure you have a reputable source with lots of reviews. The guy I ended up liking the most has been teaching harmonica since the 1980’s.

 

Because of my new discoveries during my learning project, I actually changed lanes with my learning a little bit. I had this idea that I was going to learn blues harmonica, but I let it go¬†(thanks Aiden & Evelyn ūüėČ ) and moved on to pop music, which I was actually much more interested and engaged in learning. However, for the grande finale of my learning project, I decided to go back to the original blues riff tutorial that I wasn’t engaged in (because I couldn’t make it sound good) and see if my skills have grown enough to make the blues work. I found a way to modify these practice blues riffs so that I could avoid the holes I can’t play yet.

Listen for yourself and see how much of a beginner I am. I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a harmonica player after all!

So this is goodbye for my official learning project, but I do plan to keep harpin’ on my harmonica and see if I can get any better!

Advertisements

I Guess I’m not a Belieber

So the internet has failed me and I can’t find a tutorial of how to play any Justin Bieber songs on my harmonica that are at my skill level or on the C harmonica that I have. I found one French guy who would allow me to access the tabs for Love Yourself, but only if I wanted to buy a premium account. That’s what I gathered anyways, since I don’t speak French and everything in his video was French. But the word premium must be the same in English and French, because I saw it. Am I right Jordan¬†or anyone else who knows French?

Instead, I decided to go with a classic by Frank Sinatra. “Fly Me To The Moon” inspired by this YouTuber I found who played it beautifully as a beginner.

I found the tabs for it on my trusty Harp Tabs¬†website, and the YouTube Karaoke music to play along to here. It was a little fast and took a lot of practice to keep up! Overall, I’m not happy with the way that the song sounds, but that doesn’t matter! I’m sure my neighbours are so happy that I stopped playing my squeaky high notes and it’s not the product that matters here anyways. Although Frank Sinatra might think differently…

giphy sinatra

via GIPHY

I did an audio recording this time to try out a new app instead of a video. I found the app by searching in my Google Play store for an audio recorder with lots of stars and good reviews. Good reviews are a great way to find the best tech tools!

I was going to insert the audio recording here for you to listen to, but it will not work! At first I thought because it was a .m4a file, so I converted it to .mp3, but I get the message below. I guess it’s your lucky day! It really was an awful recording.

I’m a Belieber!

I wasn’t sure what I should learn next on my harmonica, so I went to YouTube to see if I could find some inspiration. Through YouTube I’ve been able to find a few great teachers and their respective websites which have really helped me produce a good sound.

This time, however, I came across this award winning harmonica duo called Aiden N Evelyn from Malaysia and they have introduced me to the pop world of harmonica! They do covers¬†(click the link if you’re not sure what a cover is) of popular songs and upload them to YouTube. From what I gather, these 2 also do private Skype lessons, but don’t have any free harmonica tutorials or lessons uploaded at this time. Besides their YouTube channel that has videos with over 2 million hits, they also have a website. It think they’re kind of famous!

Now, I happen to be a Belieber. What is a Belieber, you ask?

I found Aiden N Evelyn’s cover of Love Yourself¬† by Justin Bieber! I’ve inserted it here for your enjoyment.

This video also made me curious about that giant harmonica you can see Aiden playing. I have never seen that before! I did some searching online and found out it is a chord harmonica which you can buy at Long & McQuade in Regina for a meager $1225 in case you’re interested. It produces 48 chords with it’s 192 holes. To put that into perspective, the harmonica I’ve been learning on has 10 holes.

I’ve learned so much about the different sounds of harmonicas from binge watching Aiden & Evelyn. Personally, I enjoy the sound of the lower keys, but I just have a regular C harmonica that is recommended for beginners. Maybe some day!

I went searching again to find a tutorial video for the song, and came across this hilarious kid. She put up a video of her “playing” Love Yourself by Justin Bieber on harmonica. Have a little listen and you’ll see why it’s hilarious! Be ready to be blown away by young talent!

Side note: This girl looks even younger than Amanda Todd was when she experienced severe cyber bullying and you can see a YouTuber commented “ur eyes r too beautiful….”. ¬†Everything I see online will now be look at with a different lens.

Stay tuned for some Belieber action of my own on harmonica!

No Pain, No Gain

I have been working on my harmonica skills so hard that I have a blood blister on the inside of my top lip, and a slight bruise on the palm of my hand! No pain, no gain!

I have still been learning from my favourite teacher, JP Allen, who filmed a collection of¬†harmonica tutorials back in the 80’s (my best guess), and then uploaded them to YouTube around 2007. I took a screenshot of this video that taught me some hand techniques this week. They are super out of date, but he is so charismatic and easy to learn from that I don’t even mind the mullet. He demonstrates and explains, and then he counts you in and you play with him. Such great learning videos! I have my own progress captured in a video below of the technique that he was teaching in this particular video. It all depends on how you hold your mouth, and when you open your hands. I haven’t yet been able to concentrate on this while trying to play songs, but I’m sure with time it will come.

So far I’ve shared some techniques I have learned over the past few weeks, and a bit of single notes, so this week I decided to find some songs that I was interested in learning. I found Love Me Do by The Beatles, and Piano Man by Billy Joel¬†that have some harmonica in them, but I especially like the intros. I found some harmonica tabs here¬†and here¬†on Harp Tabs that I especially liked, because they laid out their tabs exactly as the musician played it in the original song, with spacing coinciding with the timing; great for beginners! I found another version on this website that I did not like at all, and when I tried to play the songs, they sounded off.

For Piano Man, I thought it would sound better if I could find the piano music to play along with, so I searched YouTube and came up with a tutorial for the piano music.  This tutorial was just the piano music playing and the video was showing how to play as it went along. It was exactly what I needed! I only used the first part of it since I was only working on the intro.

After about 20 takes of the two intros, I have successfully recorded my progress! Watch the videos below, and make sure to leave a comment on my blog and let me know what you think!

Bend it like Bateman

*edit: I had the wrong video! If you watch the video below it is now showing my bending!*

I discovered what a real bend is! I thought I was bending notes before, but apparently I was just using vibrato. I found JP Allen on You Tube, and I really like his style of teaching. In his videos, he gets the learner to try it along with him, and gives time for learning. I learned more watching and participating in his videos than I have the past two weeks. Pretty cool! I used this one to learn how to bend notes.

Learning a few techniques is really making me feel good about my Harmonica skills.
giphy-downsized¬†It just proves that learning from the internet can actually be successful. In the past I’ve tried to learn guitar and ukulele, but I always give up after trying a few things, getting sore fingers, and settling on being a less than mediocre musician. This project is great because it is forcing me to keep practising and trying new styles and new techniques. I originally was aiming for blues riffs, but I may see if I can find a bluegrass or country feel that I like. I haven’t yet found my harp niche! It will come soon, I’m sure of it!

Check out my video below to hear how to “Bend it like Bateman”!

Draw 2 Success!

My goal for my learning project over the long weekend was to successfully make a nice sound come out when I play the 2 draw on my harmonica. It is a notoriously difficult note to play for beginner’s, and there are many You Tube videos directed at just the 2 Draw hole. I watched video after video with no success. My guru Gussow¬†¬†doesn’t have tutorial videos for beginner things such as the 2 draw, so I have had to look elsewhere. I ended up doing a Google search for “why is two draw so hard” because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t make a sound. It was just laboured air. I found this article on Harp Surgery. Harp Surgery appears to be the everything of the harmonica world. I skimmed the article and focused on one thing:

Imagine sipping froth from a mug of very hot chocolate. Go ahead, pretend to do it now! Where’s your tongue? You need to disengage your tongue the same way with draw 2 and breath from the diaphragm. Remember we need low air pressure. Alternatively, imagine you are holding a small potato, or a hard boiled egg, in your mouth. Your tongue retires down and back. And again the focus should be on breathing through the harp, while pulling from your diaphragm and chest.

I tried doing exactly what they said, and voila! A sound came out. I was stunned. After days of trying tricks and tips from other You Tube videos, this one trick worked!

This just proves that success when learning from online sources is very subjective to the accuracy of the source. Many of the videos I was trying out were from random people that I can’t verify. This is definitely a risk a person takes when learning something new online! For standard beginner tips and lessons,¬†I think I will stick to sources such as Harp Surgery, or other very commercial, professional sources. For the specific songs or tricks that I want to learn, I think it is ok to use the random sources, but it’s always important to look at them with a critical eye.

Here is living proof that I can now make draw 2 on a C harmonica sound half decent.

Jumpin’ on the Wagon

I figured since I’m just jumpin’ on the harmonica wagon, I should play “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker on my harmonica. And by play, I mean attempt to play. I’m using it as note practice, and I’m hoping to progress to Happy Birthday (harder notes to play), and Amazing Grace (even harder notes to play). But I may change my mind and find other songs!

I have yet to master hole 2, but breathing is coming a lot easier now! I found a very insightful video (Harmonica – Beginning 2 Hole Draw and Breathing) that talked about breathing properly while playing harmonica, and I was able to make some changes and breathe successfully. Because you know, breathing is always important.