I want to start playing the harmonica - where do I begin?
First of all, you need a harmonica! See below explaining the different types of harmonica. You will also need tuition, and there are plenty of options out there. Youtube has a wealth of free lessons and other material. You may prefer face-to-face tuition, either in person (1-to-1 or in a group) or by Skype. By becoming a member of HarmonicaUK, you will have access to Harmonica World, the members' magazine, and this contains a list of tutors.
What are the different types of harmonica, and which one should I start playing?
Generally, it depends on the type of music you want to play. The most common type is a 10-hole diatonic harmonica, and this is mainly used for playing blues, but also good for other styles such as pop, reggae and Irish. There is also the chromatic harmonica (good for classical and jazz), and the Tremolo harmonica (traditional and folk). Information on all harmonicas is available at www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica.
What harmonica is the best for a beginner?
If you ask this question to 10 different harmonica players, then you're likely to get 10 different answers! HarmonicaUK is impartial when it comes to manufacturers, and therefore cannot recommend a make and model. There are plenty of reviews on the Internet, YouTube and social media that should help you on your way. If you decide you want to start playing the diatonic (blues) harmonica, then most tutoring (especially online) will require a harmonica in the key of C.
How can I find a harmonica teacher?
By becoming a member of HarmonicaUK, you will have access to Harmonica World, the members' magazine, and this contains a list of tutors. Alternatively, please contact us and we will do what we can to put you in touch with a teacher in your area. However, HarmonicaUK cannot provide any guarantee or endorsement, and you are strongly advised to confirm the suitability and accreditation (including CRB checks where appropriate) of teachers. Please note that there are no professional qualifications for teachers, or an approved syllabus and exam. Usually teachers are players who pass on their experience.
How can I find other harmonica players in my area?
By attending open mics and jams, you will no doubt come across other players. There are also regular local groups - Searching social media should help to find groups, other players and events. By joining HarmonicaUK, we can put you in touch with other members in your area. Of course, you can begin your own group - we can help you with this, so please get in touch.
I want to start playing in public but worried I'll be no good - where do I start?
Open mics and jams are a very good way to cut your teeth. If you're unsure at first, attend a few different ones just to see how each works. Although the formats vary greatly, hosts and audiences are usually very welcoming, especially new faces. Get to know the hosts. You will come across other harmonica players - use this as an opportunity to get to know them. Don't be daunted about playing - you may be better than you think! You can also check if there are any harmonica groups in your area; this can be the first step to playing in front of other people. There are also the Annual festival and the Chromatic weekend which encourage playing with others, as well as other events.
What are the benefits of joining HarmonicaUK?
See the Membership page.
Why has the National Harmonica League changed its name to HarmonicaUK?
At the 2019 AGM, we agreed to change our name from the National Harmonica League (NHL) to HarmonicaUK (HUK). We believe we can represent the whole harmonica community in the UK, including all players from beginners to professionals, plus teachers, music therapists, collectors, repairers and customisers, manufacturers, and retailers. HarmonicaUK is a clean, modern name that describes us perfectly.
Is Harmonica UK a voluntary organisation?
Yes, it is run by harmonica enthusiasts in their spare time, and is Registered Charity (England & Wales) (1131484).
Is there anything I can do to help?
Definitely. Harmonica UK is run by a small number of volunteers, so any extra help is welcome. Examples of tasks are being involved with are social media, publicity and marketing, production of the Harmonica World magazine, planning events, helping out at events, etc... Please contact us to find out more.
Let us know if you this FAQ hasn't answered your questions - we may add it to this list!