T.R.Y. !


The way you breathe, keep time, and hold your body will make you or break you as a harmonica player. The harmonica is the box of reeds. The resonator, the bellows and the metronome are all built into one amazing instrument: your body.

You can customize harmonicas to be louder and more responsive. You can also customize your body into a world-class musical amplifier and rhythm section, funky as a monkey and natural as a tree.

Use the word TRY to remember how to set up your power stance for playing harmonica.

Look at the illustration and start from the T at the bottom and then work your way up. The three-step process starts with the T…


  1. T stands for (lower) Trapezius – the name of the muscle that you engage to straighten up your upper back. The lower trapezius muscle is v shaped and pulls your upper back and shoulders into an upright, balanced position.


When you engage the lower trapezius muscle you will feel the sensation in your mid back, and your upper body will move into alignment, with your head balanced on your shoulders. The lower trapezius starts the process and then as you roll your head up you will feel the back of your neck relax because it is no longer struggling to hold the weight of your head.


It can help to visualize a string attached to the top of your head pulling your head up gently as you do this.


  1. R stands for Rhomboids. The rhomboid muscles are deep muscles, located under the trapezius muscles. They are shaped like a fat upside down V or chevron. When you engage the rhomboid muscles your shoulder blades move toward the spine and you open up your chest cavity. You will feel your shoulders moving back a little as you do this.


  1. Y stands for Yawn. Now that you have your stance in place it is time to melt upper body tension and open up your throat by yawning. When you do a nice luxurious yawn you will feel your shoulders and neck relax, and this feeling will sink down into the rest of your body like a wave.


Now breathe into this new posture and feel the difference that it makes in your entire body. When you engage the lower trapezius and the rhomboid muscles you start a chain reaction that aligns your entire body. Your pelvis will shift. You will find all sorts of changes happening as you hold this new stance and get used to it.

TRY this three-step process – it will change the way you feel and the way you play the harmonica. It works on many levels. It is the stance of a champion: relaxed, alert, confident, open, ready for anything.

For more information on this process and how to breathe through the harmonica, contact Richard Sleigh: rrsleigh@gmail.com with TRY in the subject line… Thanks!

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