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Harmonica Lesson: Vibrations and Advice on Bending


One of the most expressive qualities of the human voice as a musical instrument is its ability to bend notes and glide seamlessly from one pitch to the next. Note bending is a technique that singers employ frequently, and it’s often mimicked as accurately as possible by a variety of different musical instruments. One instrument, in particular, through which you can bend notes and capture this expressive vocal texture is the harmonica.


In this online harmonica lesson, Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, co-founder of Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, and ArtistWorks harmonica instructor, Howard Levy, teaches about the importance of note bending, provides some tips on how to bend notes on the harmonica, and explains how the vibrations of the instrument establish a deep connection between the harmonica and player.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play harmonica from a master musician like Howard Levy? Try some free online harmonica lessons now!


“When you pick up a harmonica and play it with bends, the instrument comes alive,” Howard explains. “It becomes something that’s almost organic, and is very compelling not only for those listening but also for the player.”


What is note bending?

Note bending is a controlled technique musicians use to transition a musical note from one pitch to another smoothly. With unfretted stringed or other continuous-pitch instruments such as the trombone or human voice, this type of variation in pitch is often described as note intonation.


Bent notes, however, are commonly played on fretted instruments by literally bending the string with excess finger pressure to raise a note seamlessly in pitch. On brass instruments, such as the trumpet, notes can be bent by adjusting the lip shape within the mouthpiece. On free-reed instruments, such as the harmonica, players are able to bend notes by altering their tongue, throat, and lip positions and using excess air pressure to overblow the reed.


“You don’t have to know that much to play some simple blues licks that will really move an audience,” Howard explains. “If you get out in front of a crowd and start bending, people will go crazy because this music and this instrument touch them in their hearts.”


To learn more about note bending on the harmonica and how to implement this technique into your playing, dive into this online harmonica lesson from Howard Levy:


Vibrations and Advice on Bending with Howard Levy:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the harmonica? Through our comprehensive harmonica lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Howard Levy, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Howard’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner harmonica to advanced performance techniques, classic popular tunes, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as harmonica players and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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Harmonica Lesson: An Introduction to Bending with Howard Levy




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