Harmonica Tongue Blocking Power Secrets

In this video I describe a tongue blocking technique that had me confused for years. First I didn’t know how to do it, and then I finally hit on a way to do this, but I did not know what I was doing. So I finally slowed way down and kept describing to myself what seemed to be going on until I had something that made sense. Please let me know in the comments if this makes sense to you…

Harpe Diem!


  1. Jack Casey

    May 7, 2017 - 5:44 am

    Thanks I do All of the above tongue blocking techniques drawing from each side with bends to get more power and tone, but also include a partial half (several) hole tongue blocking and drawing air from under my tongue on those half blocked holes pulling air from under the tongue also is extremely powerful. Hopefully I am understandable to you. If you practice octaves and tongue block and draw air from under your tongue on partially blocked holes it is a more powerful tone than a straight side to side blocking techniques. Something I has played with and great success.

    • Richard Sleigh

      May 8, 2017 - 10:18 am

      I’ve never tried this idea of partially blocking several holes and drawing air under my tongue- I’ll give it a shot – thanks!

  2. Karl Woetzel

    May 7, 2017 - 5:43 pm

    Hi Richard, thanks for the video. I tongue block instinctively and I think for the most part I block with the tip of my tongue. I’ve been able to get some of the sounds in your video but not sure of the process. I’m not to sure how to get the sound sound from the back of the tongue or the side of the tongue so will have to do some experimenting.

    Thanks Karl

    • Richard Sleigh

      May 8, 2017 - 10:31 am

      It’s always interesting to break down the stuff we do without thinking. Drives me nuts but that’s part of the price for continuous improvement…

  3. Jerry Eisner

    May 7, 2017 - 7:58 pm

    Richard – as always, your videos are useful and inspiring. But this time I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding the sequence of things that are being done.
    I can do the “K” maneuver with and without tongue blocking. But I am not sure of the side of the tongue maneuver. Is it really a clicking, as you suggest when the harmonica is not in your mouth? How does one turn a click into useful air movement?
    Is it done is sequence with the “K” maneuver? Because what happens in the mouth is mostly invisible, I can’t quite visualize what is happening.

    • Richard Sleigh

      May 8, 2017 - 10:28 am

      You have to get the side tongue maneuver as a separate thing happening and then as far as I can tell, I am doing this just after my tongue moves from the release of the K embouchure and travels forward to block the holes of the chord

      So the chord plays until I cut it off with the K embouchure and then the single note pops in as i close off the chord with the front of my tongue and then open the side of my tongue to play the single note

      sorting this stuff out is really tedious and seems impossible till you get it and then it is obvious – but not necessarily obvious how to explain!

  4. Guy Hathorn

    May 7, 2017 - 11:09 pm

    Richard, The best thing about your videos is that they are always provocative. They make me reconsider my own technique. Thank you for taking the time to post them. I always learn something. Guy

    • Richard Sleigh

      May 8, 2017 - 10:30 am

      Thanks! I always learn something new when I try to explain what I’m doing…

  5. Tim Byman

    May 8, 2017 - 8:39 pm

    Hi Richard.. You are an awesome teacher!!! This technique of toung blocking I got right away with the way you explained it. Of course I need more practice and will keep on doing that. Thanks for the videos that you produce, they keep me not only intrigued but determined to better my harp playing.

  6. Dirk Thomas

    May 17, 2017 - 3:41 pm

    Thanks, Richard. Very helpful, as always. I’ve been using some of the techniques without knowing at all what I was doing. Now I’m inclined to include them more often–great sound!

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