20 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
- 2. Mary Had a Little Lamb
- 3. This Old Man
- 4. Alouette
- 5. Stand by Me
- 6. When the Saints Go Marching In
- 7. Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
- 8. Happy Birthday
- 9. Jingle Bells
- 10. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- 11. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- 12. This Land is Your Land
- 13. Amazing Grace
- 14. Silent Night
- 15. For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow
- 16. Oh My Darling, Clementine
- 17. Isn’t She Lovely
- 18. Love Me Tender
- 19. Let It Be
- 20. No Woman, No Cry
1. Ode to Joy
Friedrich Schiller wrote “Ode to Joy” in 1785. He tried to describe an idea 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 popular 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.
11. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Everybody pretty much knows “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. What you probably didn’t know is that it’s very easy to learn this song on the harmonica. This popular English lullaby was written by Jane Taylor and was published in 1806.
This is a very simple song to learn and play that utilizes only the 4th, 5th, and 6th hole on the harmonica and requires very basic inhaling and exhaling as a technique. One glance at this video and you will surely have this one down in no time.
12. This Land is Your Land
“This Land is Your Land” is one of the most famous folk songs that is coincidentally a pretty easy one to master on the harmonica. As you’ve probably seen by now, all these traditional songs have a very simple base which is why they are good beginner songs.
The tutorial video will surely help you to master this song and add one more to your growing repertoire. With only using 3 holes (the 3rd, 4th, and 5th), you will have an easy session with this one.
13. Amazing Grace
Now, this is a fun and popular song to learn and add to your ever-growing arsenal of harmonica songs. “Amazing Grace” was published in 1779 and is incredibly known to this day as a religious song used for religious purposes.
On the harmonica, it is one of those ideal songs that utilize a very simplistic nature and learning base. The tutorial will show you how to learn and play this song effectively within an hour for sure!
14. Silent Night
Another traditional song that probably everyone knows. This Christmas carol is extremely popular and has a German origin. From the early 1800s, still played even today.
Hopefully, this will be more of a challenge as it utilizes 6 holes instead of the usual 3 or 4 like some of the previous songs on the list. This is still considered entry-level material but as a means of progressing correctly.
15. For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow
As you’ve probably guessed by now, most beginner songs on the harmonica are usually traditional ones. “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” has a French origin and dates back to the early 18th century.
From a technical standpoint, this is a very easy song to learn on the harmonica and will be an excellent addition to your repertoire, maybe even be of use when you want to properly congratulate someone. Using only the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd hole, it has a very simplistic base.
16. Oh My Darling, Clementine
“Oh My Darling, Clementine” is a western folk ballad that most people already know. Dating back to 1884 and credited to Percy Montross or sometimes to Barker Bradford.
It’s a very basic song to learn that uses the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th hole with the usual inhale-exhale technique. This should be another walk in the park for most beginner harmonica players.
17. Isn’t She Lovely
Diving into more of a challenge is “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. Released in 1976, this is one of Stevie’s most famous songs. If you want some good vibes then learning this will be very fun and worth it.
Playing this on the harmonica is really satisfying since the original has a harmonica incorporated. While challenging (a bit), it will come in handy when you have a get-together and want to bust out a classic for everyone’s entertainment.
18. Love Me Tender
No introductions are needed when it comes to the great Elvis Presley. “Love Me Tender” was released in 1956 and you can still catch it playing, even today.
This is so satisfying on the harmonica and pretty easy to learn due to the slow-paced nature of the song. Utilizing high notes, it will be a very fun experience listening to this tune come to life as you master it and play it.
19. Let It Be
When on the topic of legendary songs, “Let It Be” joins the ranks on this list. Released in 1970, this song was and still is incredibly popular. Age does not play a role in whether or not anyone knows this lovely tune.
Learning a Beatles song on the harmonica is impressive enough, let alone “Let It Be”. Having this in your back pocket for when you need it, surely jaws will drop. With an easy learning curve, you’ll have this one down within a day if you follow the tutorial.
20. No Woman, No Cry
I can’t think of a better way to end this list of beginner harmonica songs than with Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”. The song was released in 1974 and is a staple in reggae music still.
Following the tutorial below, you will probably get this done within the hour. Having this song in your arsenal can come in handy when you sit down with family and friends. With a very basic musical base, learning this will be fun and worth it!
The 20 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.