How to Hold Your Harmonica
Finding the most comfortable position for you to hold your harmonica is essential to developing your own style of play. That said, there are some basic rules that apply:
Don't block the comb with your fingers — you don't want your hands to impede airflow through the instrument.
Begin by holding it on one or both sides with your thumb and forefinger. This is helpful at first because you want to see which holes you are playing when practicing techniques to get single notes.
The standard way to hold the harmonica is to place the left side of the harp into the crook between your thumb and forefinger in a comfortable but firm way, allowing your thumb to hold up the base of the harp and your finger to run along the top. You want to still be able to see the hole numbers on the top plate going from 1 to 10 from left to right.
Be sure to leave space for your lips on the two outer plates.
FIGURE 4-1:Holding the harmonica
Notice that your three remaining fingers are sort of just hanging out and don't seem to be doing anything except maybe getting in the way. Hold your fingers together and make sort of a flat surface jutting out from the top of the harmonica. Then you can take your other hand and create a cavity in your two hands through which air can flow but which will mute the sound as it comes through the harp.
The smallest harmonica manufactured is the Hohner Little Lady, which is 1⅜ inches long and has four holes with eight reeds. The largest is the Hohner 48 Chord harmonica, two harps mounted above and below each other, which measures a whopping 23″ long and has 96 double holes with 384 reeds.
With a little practice you can then open and close that gap while you play, creating a vibrato similar to what a trumpet player does with a mute getting that “wa-wa” sort of effect. This cavity you have created between your hands is where you will want to put a microphone. (Microphone techniques are discussed in Chapter 12.)