Playing Happy Birthday On Harmonica: A Comprehensive Guide

Harmonica Tabs

Become a harmonica pro and play 'Happy Birthday to You' like a pro with this beginner-friendly guide to playing a diatonic harmonica.

Eamon - Iman RP

Eamon - Iman RP

Founder of Harmonica For All, Instructor

Are you ready to learn how to play “Happy Birthday to You” on a diatonic harmonica? Great!

First, let’s talk about what a diatonic harmonica is. It’s a type of harmonica with 10 holes and plays different notes based on which hole you blow into or draw air from.

Now, let’s start playing “Happy Birthday to You.”

Ensure you have a diatonic harmonica in the key of C. You’ll hear a C note when you blow holes 1, 4, or 7. You can check the pitch of the note with a tuner.

Use this harmonica diagram in C. You can find all the blow notes, draw notes, and try to memorize them; it will help you read harmonica notes and tabs faster.

diatonic harmonica diagram, blues harp in c
Blues Harp in C

What’s Tuner?

A tuner is a device that helps you tune your musical instrument by showing you if the note you are playing is in tune or not. For example, to use a tuner to find the correct pitch for the C note, you first need to turn on the tuner and select the type of instrument you are playing, in this case, a harmonica. Next, you play the note you want to tune, in this case, C.

What’s Tuner?
Digital Tuner

The tuner will show you the pitch of the note you are playing, usually using a needle that moves toward the center as you play the right note. If the needle is to the left of the center, the note is flat, which means it’s too low in pitch, and if it’s to the right, it’s sharp, which means it’s too high in pitch.

Keep playing the C note and adjusting until the needle is centered, indicating that you are playing the correct pitch for the C note.

Hold the harmonica with your left hand and put your right hand over the holes to help create a good sound. Try to make single notes; sometimes, it’s hard initially, but you’ll get used to it after a while.
Read our post “How To Hold The Harmonica” to learn more about how to hold the harmonica.

Happy Birthday, Harmonica Tab:

For the first line of “Happy Birthday to You,” play the following notes:

Red Square = Blow Note


Green Square = Draw Note

6
6
6
6
7
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you



  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 6 Draw (A)
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 7 Blow (C)
  • Hole 7 Draw (B)

The second line is the same as the first one, except for the end. The biggest challenge in this phrase is making single notes on hole nine and switching between the 8th and 9th holes.
To better play on the 9th hole, allocate some time to hit a few shots on both the 8th and 9th holes. Change between them frequently until you become comfortable with it, then try attempting to play through it all.

6
6
6
6
8
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 6 Draw (A)
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 8 Draw (D)
  • Hole 7 Blow (C)

Now, it’s time for the 3rd line. Maybe it’s the most challenging phrase to master as it has a giant leap from hole 6 to hole 9.
Here are some helpful exercises for learning this part faster. You can practice these exercises as warm-ups at the beginning of your practice time. Then, make a loop of each exercise and do it as often as you feel comfortable.

  • Ex 1: 6 Blow (G) 9 Blow (G)
  • Ex 2: 6 Draw (A) 9 Draw (F)
  • Ex 3: 6 Blow (G) 9 Draw (F)
  • Ex 4: 6 Draw (A) 9 Blow (G)

Let’s play 3rd phrase:

6
6
9
8
7
7
6
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
some
one
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 6 Blow (G)
  • Hole 9 Blow (G)
  • Hole 8 Blow (E)
  • Hole 7 Blow (C)
  • Hole 7 Draw (B)
  • Hole 6 Draw (A)
You can hold on to the last note (A) a little more. The 4th and the last phrase. We have a descending order of notes in the previous phrase. Here is how to play the last phrase:
9
9
8
7
8
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you

Now put together all four phrases to play the entire song.

Red Square = Blow Note Green Square = Draw Note

6
6
6
6
7
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you
6
6
6
6
8
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you
6
6
9
8
7
7
6
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
some
one
9
9
8
7
8
7
Ha
ppy
Birth
day
to
you

For better results, please use this interactive Happy Birthday Harmonica Tab and start playing and practicing with it.

Happy Birthday on Harmonica – YouTube Video

You can use this interactive widget to practice this beautiful song and have more fun. You can set the metronome on different tempos, make a loop from a part of the song, check the notes and tabs, and practice with it until you can play it confidently. You’ve just played “Happy Birthday to You” on a diatonic harmonica. Keep practicing, and soon, you’ll be able to play it easily. 

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