Harmonicas are interesting instruments that require breath control and attention to detail, and singing requires a similar level of breath control and other musical skills. So, does this mean playing the harmonica can help with singing?
Playing harmonica can help with singing. It can not only increase your breath control, which is vital to singing, but it can help tune your ear to specific notes to find your pitch.
Let’s explore the connection between playing the harmonica and singing a bit further and see how these two skills are a powerful team.
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Does Playing Harmonica Help with Singing?
Playing the harmonica can definitely help with singing. Think about what is involved with playing the instrument; you need to be able to hear the note and control your breath. Both of these skills are directly transferred over to singing.
Improve Knowledge of Music Theory
Learning the music theory that accompanies becoming an expert with the harmonica will carry over to your singing career as well. On top of that, some consider it easier to read and understand sheet music as a singer after learning to read it with a musical instrument.
Train Your Musical Ear
One of the best benefits of playing the harmonica, as it pertains to singing, is training your ear to recognize notes. All singers need to be able to recognize a note and replicate it with their voices; learning how to play the harmonica will do wonders for teaching you how to do this.
Improve Breath Capacity and Control
You also need to control your breath so that you don’t interrupt your song with the need to breathe. Playing the harmonica can help do this in many ways, especially when you add in breathing exercises like this one:
- Lay flat on your back.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
- Take a deep inhale and focus on keeping your chest hand still expanding your belly hand.
- Focus on keeping the chest hand still throughout the entire breath.
If you do this every day, you will naturally start to breathe from your belly, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breath is vital for playing the harmonica as it will give you the strength and air required to play advanced techniques. With repetition and the addition of breath counting exercises, you’ll stretch out your diaphragm and increase your breathing capacity, too.
In turn, you will have more air for singing and carrying those strong, long notes. You’ll never have to run out of breath in the middle of a note again!
Can Playing Harmonica Negatively Impact Singing?
Some people believe that playing the harmonica might negatively impact your singing. However, according to one musician who is experienced with both, playing the harmonica will not negatively impact your voice.
They add that you should take special care not to overdo any techniques that call for using your vocal cords, which do come into play with advanced harmonica playing. You don’t need to avoid these techniques altogether, but you should take care when using them.
Do Other Instruments Help with Singing?
While the harmonica helps in specific ways that won’t apply to every instrument, playing any instrument will undoubtedly help your singing voice. Brass and woodwind instruments will also have the added benefit of improving your breathing techniques.
Any instrument that you learn will teach you how to read music, learn music theory, and learn other specific techniques that will often carry over directly to singing, though the particular skills you pick up will vary.
On top of developing specific technical skills that carry over to singing, learning an instrument will further develop your passion for music. You’ll learn to appreciate all music on a deeper level. Doing so boosts your motivation, which directly impacts your singing by encouraging you to practice more often.
How Else Can You Improve Your Singing Voice?
Improving your singing voice is a practice that’s just as difficult and rewarding as learning to play an instrument. While some people do have a naturally better singing voice than others, everyone can practice and learn how to be a great singer.
There are several ways to improve your singing voice, and all of them should be practiced regularly. Some of the most popular techniques are:
- Do vocal warm-ups. Every singer warms up their voice before they start singing. Just like going for a jog, warming up beforehand will loosen up your muscle and prepare them for what’s about to happen. Your vocal cords are muscles, so warming up helps “wake them up” before a performance.
- Breath control. Learning how to breathe properly and with control will help you go far with singing. It’s one of the reasons why many singers like to play harmonica or brass and woodwind instruments. Holding a note for a long time, singing staccato, and numerous other techniques call for intense breath control. You can practice your breath control by doing specific exercises focused on breathing, and playing an instrument.
- Stay hydrated. Hydration is essential for so many things that it’s no surprise that it’s vital for singing, too. Simply drinking water throughout the day will help you improve your vocal cords. Additionally, your vocal cords work best while lubricated. This means that before a performance or audition, you should drink plenty of water right before you step on stage.
- Keep your home humid. Another way to keep your vocal folds moist is to invest in a humidifier and keep it running in your home or room. While this might not be important if you only sing on occasions, it can do wonders when you’re working on a new album or doing a series of performances.
- Practice singing exercises. While they are often associated with warm-ups, singing exercises are typically focused on specific techniques that you’d like to work on. For example, if you use too much vibrato when you sing, you might practice a specific exercise that helps change your voice's tone.
- Take vocal naps. If you work out at the gym, you know you need rest days. This is also true for your voice: give it time to rest. If you have a tired voice, you’ll be more prone to injury, and it’ll be harder to produce a quality sound. Rest your voice if you’ve been performing often. Resting includes no talking, no singing, and no whispering. You need time to regenerate your voice.
- Hire a vocal coach. You can go far on your own, but almost every professional singer has worked with a vocal coach at some point in their lives. Consider hiring a vocal coach that will help take you to the next level. You can find vocal coaches in your own area along with looking at some in other areas that might work with you remotely with video lessons.
Of course, one of the best ways to improve your singing is to simply sing. Pick a few songs and sing them often, always aiming to perfect them. (And it doesn’t hurt to practice playing your harmonica, either!)
Does Playing Harmonica Help with Singing? Conclusion
Here, we’ve discussed how playing the harmonica will absolutely help you with singing. Anyone looking for a secondary activity that will still benefit their singing should pick up a harmonica and start practicing. You’ll train your ear, work on your breathing, and gain a deeper understanding of music theory. Perhaps best of all, you’ll enhance your passion for music.