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David's Tip of the Day: Tongue Angle

David Barrett Admin's picture

Every now and again I'll have a poor student come in and their face is all contorted to the side when playing. I ask them to stick their tongue out with the harmonica still attached and I'll see that they're using the side of their tongue for the tongue block. They hear "block the holes to the left" and away their tongue goes, pointing far left in the mouth. The angle of the tongue on the harmonica should only be one click of the clock to the left... 11 o'clock. If you're not able to block enough holes, then use more of the top of the tongue, which is wider and more easily blocks the intended three holes. So... lesson... just a slight orientation to the left.

P.S., on the same subject, a student came in yesterday for his first lesson and the subject of tongue blocking came up. He thought that the leaning that's done towards the right cheek when playing was for tongue blocking. This is to cover the leakage out of the right-most holes of the harmonica for a more muted cup (think dark amplified playing or Wa Wa).

It's interesting playing an instrument where the majority of the techniques can't be seen.