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How to Play Harmonica like John Popper

Learn how to play harmonica like John Popper of Blues Traveler with this harmonica lesson taught by John Popper himself.


Hi, I'm John Popper, lead singer of the band Blues Traveler. I also play harmonica, and am arguably one of the best in the world. But thank God, there really never can be an actual best, but I'm damn good. I'm gonna teach you a few things about the harmonica.

I'll tell you some of the tricks that I knew or made up. You know, I was a kid in the eighties, so of course I wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen. So I started going‚ "Simple 2 inhales and an exhale."

I can already hear my Mom upstairs going, "Stop that!" because I would do it for hours. But then I learned, you move that up and down the harmonica, that same pattern, 2 inhales and an exhale, and at that time, I'm was like "Wooow, I'm like doing like that thing like Eddie Van Halen does." Then I started learning a sextuplet pattern. But again like I said, listen to sax players, listen to guitar players, listen to any to anything you hear. Don't let the fact that they talk about what you can't do on this thing, throw you, it's amazing what you can do.

And there are harmonica players, Howard Levy for one, who can do a lot more than I can do. He can play full chromatic scales on this, which I can't. There are things that I can't do on this and I just try not to do them as much or I figure out a way to cheat them. And cheating works, cheat as much as you can.

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