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I have been trying to self-learn the harmonica over the past few days. I notice I sometimes blow/draw from multiple holes when I only want to make a single note. There are a few questions I have regarding things I could be doing wrong:

Should my mouth should be pursed enough that it's only possible to blow one hole at a time?

Do I just need to practice to become more accurate with positioning the hole correctly where I am blowing? If so, do I sense the position of the harmonica visually or more by feel?

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caveat: I'm not an expert, but I've learned a little bit from my grandfather.

You can get the effect you want by puckering up to produce a really small hole, but you'll probably be better off in the long run doing either tongue-blocking or vertical slot.

I was taught to play a single note using tongue-blocking, where you cover other holes using your tongue and leave one uncovered (which is the one that will sound). This is a little difficult but leaves the door open for doing cool effects!

There are a couple other ways to produce a single note (described here):

Vertical slot:

The vertical slot method creates the single note by dropping the jaw down and slightly back and then using the corners of the mouth to block the surrounding holes. This is in contrast to the simpler whistle, pucker, or lipping method where you play a single note with tight, pursed lips.

U-block:

curling your tongue to make a tube out of it and placing it directly over the hole you want to play

Hope this helps!

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  • It might help to point out that using the pucker makes it easier to bend and can also enable a more “vocal” tone. Sep 5 '20 at 3:44
  • The tongue-curling is something a person either can or can't do.
    – Tim
    Sep 5 '20 at 7:23

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