Bending on the harmonica

Ronnie Shellist

Learning to bend on the 10 hole diatonic harmonica is one of the most challenging skills that you will encounter. It requires patience and plenty of practice. Consider the fact that the instrument was never designed to produce those missing notes. The key lies in tongue position to reshape the airflow as you breathe. We can produce bends on draw notes 1-6 and blow notes 7-10. The 5 draw and 7 blow only bend a quarter step down unlike the other holes which can produce 1/2 step bends and sometimes multiple bends like on holes 2, 3, and 10. Take your bending to the next level with Ronnie’s Bending Clinic Workshop recording. This Zoom recording can be streamed and/or downloaded. These bends are the key to unlocking the full potential, especially for blues, of the diatonic harmonica.

2 thoughts on “Bending on the harmonica”

    1. Yes, the tongue still moves but I think it’s less detectable than what a pucker player might experience. When I tongue block bend, I feel more of the emphasis on changing the restriction of airflow by focussing on the upper mouth cavity and throat for those deeper bends. It’s a subtle difference yet distinct at the same time. I typically bend in the pucker embouchure so I’m less informed than full time tongue block benders however.

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