How to Play the Hohner Echo Harmonica

Written by matt mckay
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How to Play the Hohner Echo Harmonica
Playing the Hohner Echo harmonica is similar to other harmonicas. (harmonica image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com)

The Hohner Echo is a line of double-reed harmonicas. The reeds are arranged in two rows, top and bottom, and are played simultaneously. Hohner makes 28 to 48 reed Echo harmonicas. Aside from being larger and containing more notes than a standard 10 reed harmonica, Hohners are played in the same manner. The double-reed system emits a louder and stronger note than single-reed harmonicas, and are available in all popular musical keys. Double-reed harmonicas are also known as "tremolo" or "vibrato" harmonicas. Each reed vibrates at a slightly different rate, adding fullness to the notes.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Hold the harmonica by placing your thumb across the bottom, and your index finger across the top. The fingers must not interfere with your mouth against the holes, nor block the open rear section. The hole numbers stamped on the harmonica should be facing up, with the lower numbers (low notes) to the left as you hold the instrument to your mouth.

  2. 2

    Purse your lips into a loose "kissing" position and blow into any hole of the harmonica. Adjust your lips and moisten them with your tongue, if necessary, until you are able to play a clear single note. The lip position is called an "embouchure" and will be slightly different for everyone.

  3. 3

    Using the same embouchure on the same hole, inhale to produce the second note produced by the reed. Harmonica-playing involves inhaling and exhaling to play all available notes. Practice inhaling and exhaling while adjusting the embouchure until the two notes are clear.

  4. 4

    Place your mouth at the first hole (the lowest number), exhaling and inhaling until the single notes are clear-sounding.

  5. 5

    Repeat step 4 on each hole until you reach the last (highest note) hole, and repeat the exercise in reverse (from highest to lowest hole). Increase your playing speed as you progress through the exercise until you are able to play all the harmonica notes forward and backward without missing notes.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice controlled breathing and develop a rhythm as you practice moving up and down the holes. Using more air pressure will produce louder notes when blowing and inhaling, while less air pressure will produce softer notes.
  • After you have mastered your embouchure and single-note technique, you may experiment with different embouchure forms to play multiple note intervals and chords.
  • Experiment with different combination of notes to work out simple melodies, and learn the basic playing techniques before investing in a harmonica song book
  • Put aside time to practice everyday, and keep your harmonica with you for impromptu practice sessions when time permits. Even if your practice time is limited to 5 or 10 minutes a day, your skill and comfort level will increase. As with any musical instrument, the time you put in is directly related to how proficient you will become.
  • Avoid blowing too hard or too soft when learning, as the notes will not be clear and defined. Using exaggerated air pressure is an advanced technique used on single-reed harmonicas to "bend" notes, but is not commonly used on double-reed instruments, as the notes are difficult to control.
  • Tap the harmonica against your hand with the holes striking your palm. This will remove excess moisture from the instrument, and will prolong the life of the reeds. Allow the harmonica to dry-out before placing it in a case or enclosed area. Regular wiping of the body and hole areas with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol will prevent bacterial formation.

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