Harmonica Lessons with Joe Powers

Joe’s harmonica lessons are fun! He’s passionate about what he does and has a patient, encouraging approach with his students. He offers classes in both Diatonic (standard 10-hole) and Chromatic (button) harmonicas. He has taught in the Portland, Oregon area since 2002 and has worked with students of all ages and skill levels. 

Don't live in the Portland area? Ask Joe about SKYPE lessons via the internet. 

What to expect? In addition to providing technical guidance, tailor-made exercises, and clear-cut goals, Joe incorporates elements of music theory into every lesson. His goal is to foster an understanding of fundamental musicianship that will allow students to approach any style of music that interests them. 

Joe’s beginning lessons focus on helping students become proficient with the basic playing techniques in order to establish a solid foundation, i.e. holding the instrument, playing single notes and scales, folk melodies and melodic songs, breath control/support, and hand tremolo. 

Intermediate classes progress through note-bending exercises, blues/rock/jazz chord progression studies, scales, improvisation, chugging/rhythmic accompaniment & other intermediate techniques such as throat vibrato. 

The advanced student may choose to learn more about any playing style that interests him or her, as well as working on advanced bending techniques, repair, tuning, performance practice, musical interpretation, and other advanced skills. 


Harmonica Lesson FAQs

What do I need to have for my first lesson? 
For the first class it is important to have at least a "C Major, Diatonic Harmonica". If you don't have one you can purchase one from Joe at or before the first lesson. 

For beginners on the 10 hole diatonic Joe recommends the Suzuki "Harpmaster" model MR-200. For students learning to play chromatic he recommends the "4 octave Suzuki Chromatix" model SCX-64. For more information on the different models visit Suzuki harmonicas.

Which styles does Joe teach? 
It all starts with basic technique, but after you develop that... Joe can teach you to play any style you'd like to learn including; Blues, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Pop, Hip-Hop, Polka, Classical, Folk, Country, Brazilian/Latin Jazz, Tango, Traditional Japanese, Irish, French Chanson, Bluegrass, etc.

Should I learn to play diatonic or chromatic? 

As far as which harmonica to get, it depends a bit on your musical experience, interests, and budget... 

Do you already have experience playing harmonica or other instruments? 
Which styles are you most interested in playing; Blues, Jazz, Classical, Tango music, etc? 

In general Diatonics are much less expensive than Chromatics... if you're just getting started it may be best to try a diatonic, because many of the techniques you learn will translate directly to the chromatic... how ever if you're very serious about learning Tango/Classical Music/Jazz etc. and can afford it you may want to start directly with a chromatic. 

Either instrument should be tuned in the Key of C major. For chromatics that is the standard tuning but for diatonics it will be important to request specifically that key. You can also purchase harmonicas directly from Joe.

How often do I need to practice? 
Regarding practice, really the more one practices the better one gets. Joe believes that learning an instrument is a lot like learning to speak another language. It's best to be exposed to music daily (and if possible other musicians), it's also better to practice several short times a day (instead of a few long times a week). 
That said, it's also a very personal thing... everyone has different needs and everyone learns best in their own way.

What is SKYPE? 
Skype is an application that allows you to make video/audio calls over the internet for free (when calls are Skype to Skype). Learn more about Skype and download the software for free here. 

Does Joe offer group lessons? 
Yes, Joe does offer group workshops in the Portland area and worldwide. Be sure to contact Joe for availability.