10 Easy Harmonica Songs For Beginners
The harmonica is a simple instrument to pick up but a difficult one to master. If you want to learn, you should start with simple songs and then work up to more complex ones. The easy harmonica songs for beginners listed below are great options to consider.
This list is suitable for kids and adults. Although some of the songs will seem intimidating at first, they are simple. With just a little practice, you can master them. And you can do it faster than you think!
Keep in mind that learning how to play the harmonica is easier than most other instruments. You do not need formal lessons, although they can help, of course. Watch the videos under the name of the beginner songs and follow the instructions.
1. Ode to Joy
Friedrich Schiller wrote “Ode to Joy” in 1785. He tried to describe an ideal of triumphing brotherhood and hope. This is exactly what Ludwig van Beethoven tried to transmit as he picked up the playwright’s words and created the music section with the same name in his Ninth Symphony.
The composition is intimidating, but it features a lot of repetition and very simple notes. This makes it a perfect beginner song to master on your harmonica, and you will be able to brag about knowing how to play one of the most recognized classical pieces in history.
2. Mary Had a Little Lamb
It’s a little-known fact that this poem was the first-ever audio recording. Thomas Edison recited “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to see if his phonograph worked. But the origins of the poem date back to 1815, with it being first published in 1830. Lowell Mason is responsible for the composition of the melody.
Few nursery rhymes are as known as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” This is, in part, because of how simple it is. Young children can easily learn it, and you can quickly master it on your harmonica or on the piano. In fact, this song is often utilized as a practice piece for people that are learning how to play several instruments.
3. This Old Man
Nobody knows the real origins of “This Old Man,” with the earliest version appearing in 1937 as a song Anne Gilchrist remembered hearing from a Welsh nurse during the 1870s. The original version was a little different than what we know now, and its name was “Jack Jintle.”
As a beginner song for the harmonica, “This Old Man” is similar in tempo to the other nursery rhyme mentioned before, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The only important difference is the ascending beat as opposed to a monotone beat.
“Alouette” is one of the simpler songs to learn on a harmonica and a pretty fun one to practice. It is also a children’s folk song, but it is in French, with Canadian origins. It was first published in 1879, and it is believed to have French origins. What is interesting is that it was brought to America and several other countries during World War I as allied soldiers learned it.
When played on the harmonica, “Alouette” is played in C and only has two lines. You can actually learn this song in just a couple of hours.
5. Stand by Me
Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” was inspired by “Stand by Me Father” by J.W. Alexander and Sam Cooke. It was first performed in 1961. Nobody could have guessed the popularity it would gain. Right now, there are over 400 recorded song versions of “Stand by Me” by countless artists, including John Lennon and Otis Redding.
You can easily sing along to the song, and you can learn it very fast, even as a beginner. All you need is a diatonic harmonica, and you should know that the song is in key A.
6. When the Saints Go Marching In
“When the Saints Go Marching In” was originally a Christian hymn, but it gained popularity as it was picked up by jazz bands. The first famous recording was the work of Louis Armstrong in 1938.
At first glance, you will think the song is difficult to play on the harmonica, but with a C major 10-hole diatonic and a little practice, you will quickly learn it. This song is a perfect first step towards experimenting with pop and rock tunes. This is because “When the Saints Go Marching In” has very simple chords and a chorus you can pick up fast.
7. Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was recorded in 1972 and is the only No. 1 single in the US by the artist. Its history is interesting since it was written as Young couldn’t play his electric guitar due to a back injury. As a result, he started playing his acoustic guitar. Then, harmonica parts were added. This resulted in a perfect song to master as you train your harmonica-playing skills.
“Heart of Gold” is more complex than other harmonica songs for beginners, so you should take it slowly and not be discouraged when you make mistakes. If you feel overwhelmed, practice a simpler song from this list.
8. Happy Birthday
It is hard to argue with the fact that “Happy Birthday” is the most sung of all the songs in the world. It has versions in over 18 languages and can easily be played on every single instrument. Also, this is the English language’s most recognized song according to the 1998 edition of the Guinness World Records. The original melody was taken from “Good Morning to All”, an 1893 song by Mildred and Patty Hill.
You can start playing without overblows or bends so the song only uses 4 harmonica holes. Then, you can go for the more “difficult” version.
9. Jingle Bells
“Jingle Bells” was originally known as “The One Horse Open Sleigh” and was originally published in 1857. Originally, it was not connected to Christmas. It was originally meant to be a drinking song or a school choir song. Eventually, it became linked to the holiday season as a Christmas song during the 1860s.
The first part of the song is very easy to learn on the harmonica and is sure to make any holiday gathering better. You will surely master it pretty fast and your friends will sing along.
10. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is another very popular nursery rhyme and children’s song. The original was published in 1852 with a different tune and similar lyrics. The version we now know was initially recorded in 1881. Bing Crosby was the first singer to include the song on an album in 1961 (101 Gang Songs).
You can play “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as one of the first songs you learn on a 10-hole diatonic harmonica. Its simplicity comes from using just 4 holes, 4 to 7, and you don’t have to change between blowing and drawing.
The 10 easy harmonica songs for beginners above are all simple and do not require much practice. They cover different genres and although most are children’s songs, they are your first step towards mastering the instrument. Learn all of them and then move on to more complicated songs afterward. The harmonica can be difficult and it does take a lot of practice to master.
Make sure to dedicate as much time as possible to learning and practicing. Also, switch between songs and try to learn many simple ones before you move on to complicated tunes.