Why play the harmonica?

Why should children learn the harmonica?  Because it’s fun!

And also because:

  • It’s easy to play – you don’t need to use fingers (manual dexterity can be hard for young children)
  • It provides an accessible and relatively easy introduction to music
  • You can play scales and tunes over three octaves
  • You can play rhythms with chords, as well as melodies (sometimes even both at the same time!)
  • You can also play pairs of notes simultaneously using different intervals, including octaves
  • It’s cheap and fits in your pocket
  • You can play along / accompany on the piano – the harmonica equates to the white notes on the piano
  • It sounds great right out of the box
  • You can learn to play it chromatically (all the sharps and flats). Children generally don’t get to this stage so we play it modally to access C major, D minor (dorian), E minor (Phrygian), F major (Lydian), G major (mixolydian) A minor (aeolian), B minor (locrian)  
  • You can play the Blues – where it is best known
  • You hear it on adverts and tv theme tunes all the time
  • A lot of bands use the harmonica as part of their show
  • There are a thousand harmonica performances viewable for free on YouTube.

Plus it will even lead to work if you want it to; there are many people who play music in bands and who teach and write about music as a full time or part time living.

A child who starts an instrument in primary school could easily be earning a living from music aged 18 if they put their mind to it, and having musical skills is a job for life in any country.

The social aspect of learning a musical instument, the teamwork skills you learn, the sense of community you feel, the friends you make – these are all wonderful and important things.

We wouldn’t say the harmonica is necessarily better than the recorder, ocarina, ukulele or anything else, but it’s got a great deal in its favour. Alright, let’s be honest – it’s way better that all these other instruments!

The harmonica is the highest selling instrument of all – one company alone, M. Hohner, has been making 30 million harmonicas a year since the 1930s. The Chinese factories are much bigger again.

Posted in: Parents' FAQs