Puckering & Tongue Blocking: Play Single Notes On Harmonica

Harmonica, Podcast

Learn the two main techniques to play single notes on harmonica: puckering and tongue blocking. Learn about their advantages and disadvantages to improve your playing.

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Eamon - Iman RP

Founder of Harmonica For All, Instructor

Puckering & Tongue Blocking Play Single Notes on Harmonica, Featured Image

How to play single notes on harmonica?

The harmonica is a small musical instrument that people like to play. It can be used to make different kinds of music. First, however, you must know how to make just one sound at a time to play the harmonica.
Puckering and tongue blocking are two main ways to play clear single notes on harmonica for chromatic, blues harp and tremolo.

In this article, we will learn about these two ways and what makes them suitable and not so good.

Puckering Technique:

Puckering is a technique where the harmonica player uses their lips to cover the holes in the harmonica. This technique, also known as lip pursing, is excellent for playing single notes on harmonica; it’s quick and easy to learn.
To produce a single note, the player places their lips tightly around the hole they want to play with and blows air through it. Puckering is a good technique for playing melodies and is relatively easy to learn for beginners. However, it has some limitations, such as its inability to produce chords or overblows.

harmonica puckering method, harmonica for all, Iman Music Studio

Tongue Blocking Technique:

Tongue blocking is a technique where the player blocks some of the holes on the harmonica with the tongue while allowing air to pass through others.
Tongue blocking on harmonica allows the player to produce multiple notes simultaneously, creating a chord or a double-stop effect.

To produce clean single notes using the tongue block embouchure technique on a harmonica, you need to cover three or four holes with the top of your mouth and open your mouth slightly. Next, move the tip of your tongue to the left, and then use the surface of your tongue to cover the two or three left holes while keeping the right hole open. This allows the airflow to hit only one hole and create a clear and crisp sound.

tongue blocking on harmonica

Is tongue-blocking ever really used in harmonica playing?

Tongue blocking is often used in blues and country music and is a good technique for playing single notes and chords. However, it requires more practice to master than puckering.

Differences between the Two Techniques:

Puckering and tongue blocking have their strengths and weaknesses, and which technique to use depends on the player’s style and preference. For example, puckering is suitable for playing melodies and is easier to learn, but it can’t produce chords or overblows. Tongue blocking, on the other hand, allows for more versatility and can produce chords and overblows, but it requires more practice to master.


In conclusion, puckering and tongue-blocking techniques are the two main methods for producing single notes on the harmonica. However, both can be used together to create a unique and versatile playing style.

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