I've been practicing playing blues harmonica for over a year now (with some breaks of a few weeks) I'm noticing that after about 20-30 minutes of practice time my lips and mouth become tired and my single notes become sloppy.

I use puckering / lip blocking to get single notes. I can bend the the holes 1,2,3, 4 and 6.

If I exercise on the bends seperately and slowly, I have full control over them and I can keep my mouth relaxed. When I play a (fast) song/riff and have to use bends, my mouth is a bit more tight and I lack control over the bends, often I position the harmonica a bit upwards to achieve the bends.

Is 20-30 minutes too fast to get tired from practicing harmonica? If so, how should I keep myself from tensioning my mouth during hard parts of riffs and difficult bends?

I'm aware of the adviced pucker embouchure (no small opening with tensed lips, but a duck-like wide seal with the harmonica) and I'm holding my harmonica deep enough between my lips, but some tension is needed to get the single note (bends), isn't it?

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    Making music has some elements of a sport. You do have to physically maintain and train your body for flexibility, speed, strength, and most important, stamina. Don't push yourself too hard, take breaks when you're tired, and practice a little every day. Your stamina will grow and you'll be able to play longer between breaks. Also, your lips might change a bit. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 15:15
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    @ToddWilcox why not make than an answer Todd. Plus one on the comment. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


In my opinion half an hour sounds perfectly normal.

I suppose that is half an hour of constant playing? Most blues featuring harmonica do not call for it to be played continously but rather in a "call and response" fashion with the singer, or to take solos of limited lenght.

I would say, after practicing any instrument constantly and vigorously for half an hour, there would be a need to take a break.


Lips are muscles. Muscles require you to build strength and endurance. This is true of all instruments that use the mouth.

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