It’s a little surprising that harmonicas aren’t more popular with kids, especially since they are sort of the perfect beginner instrument. They are cheap, easy to play, very portable, and they are already tuned to a certain scale so you can’t really hit a bad note.
Harmonicas are also great because kids can learn about basic music theory and they are so simple to learn that your child will be playing a recognizable song in no time at all.
So if you are thinking about getting your kids into music, but you aren’t quite ready to commit to an expensive guitar or piano, then have a look at the harmonica, because it really is an ideal starter instrument for kids. Luckily for you, we have rounded up lots of amazing resources that can help you get started.
Where to Start
Obviously you will need to get a harmonica before you can do anything. There are a number of different types of harmonicas (or the harp as it is also known), the two most popular types being the diatonic and the chromatic. A diatonic generally has 10 holes and each harmonica comes in different keys (like C, A, B, F#, etc.). A chromatic harp has a button on the side that lets the player play all 12 keys and are much harder to play than a diatonic.
So for beginners and kids it is generally recommended that you get a diatonic harp that is tuned to the key of C.
What Kind Should you get
There are lots of cheap harmonicas for children available, so a good place to start is with Hohner. Hohner has been making harmonicas for the last 150 years and basically sets the standard for quality with lots of harmonicas to choose from.
If you have a very young child you could get a starter harmonica. A starter harmonica has only four holes, so it makes it easy for kids to play one note at a time. A good starter harmonica is something like Hohner Kids PL-106 Musical Toys Play and Learn Harmonica.
If your child is over 5 then you should avoid the ‘toy’ harmonicas and get a good quality harp that will last for years. The most recommended harmonica for beginners and kids is the Hohner Special Twenty Harmonica, Key of C. It is a professional quality instrument for a very reasonable price (usually somewhere around $35). It sounds and looks amazing and is perfect for a beginner.
If you are looking for something a bit cheaper, but you still want a good quality harmonica then the Hohner Blues Band Harmonica is the one to get. This one also sounds great and is easy to play, but has a lower price point (less than $10).
Harmonica Websites and Free Online Lessons
Luckily there are a few really great free lessons that are aimed at kids that you can use to help them learn to play. Here are some to have a look at:
- Harmonica 4 Kids is Dave Gage’s harmonica lessons for kid’s website. There is lots of great info on this site including songs, tips and games. This is a wonderful resource with so much great material on it you won’t even believe it.
- Harmonica for Children is another really good site with online lessons for kids. It also has a lot of common children’s songs that kids can play along to.
- Funky Nursery has play along harmonica lessons designed for younger harp players to teach kids how to play traditional nursery rhymes on a C harmonica.
The Best Harmonica Books for Teaching Kids
If you want your kids to learn the harmonica it is helpful to have a couple of method books for reference. There isn’t a lot of choice as far as harmonica books for children, but there are few decent ones and some books that are for beginners in general that are okay for kids.
- Mel Bay Children’s Harmonica Method is one of the few harmonica books that was written for children. It has step-by-step instructions and shows kids how to play Jingle Bells, London Bridge, Oh When the Saints, Pop Goes the Weasel, Camptown Races, and a few others.
- Voggy’s Harmonica Book Book/CD Set for kid’s ages 6 years and up. This is another book put out by Mel Bay that is designed specifically for children. It covers proper playing position, playing technique, reading music, playing single notes and whole songs. It also has all songs recorded on a CD that is included. They even included an appendix that has tips on practicing, caring for the harmonica.
- Let’s Play Harmonica is a set that includes a couple of harmonicas and it has short lessons that are good for kids. It also includes a Song Book with how-to instructions and 12 popular songs for your child to play. This one is very basic, made for a very young child.
- Progressive Harmonica Method for Young Beginners covers the basics of harmonica playing and reading music. It has lots of well-known children’s songs that kids can learn and it has nicely illustrated full color pictures as well as a CD or link to Harmonica Lessons for Kids that has the songs and exercises that kids can play along to.
- Instant Harmonica is one of the more popular books if you want to learn the harmonica and it gets recommended a lot. It isn’t written for kids, but with an adults help it is a good beginner book. It has a combination of tablature and EZ-Play notation and over thirty country and folk songs.
- Harmonica For Dummies The Dummies series of books are usually pretty good for kids when there isn’t a look of other books on a particular topic. This book gives clear step-by-step instructions and has lots of info on tips and playing techniques, how to read the notation and tablature.
Hopefully you found something that will help you kids get interested in the harmonica, if you have any great resources that we missed let us know in the comments below.