Re: right way to bend

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Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on December 22, 2002 at 12:28:34:

In Reply to: Re: right way to bend posted by Chief on December 21, 2002 at 18:21:25:

: I can play all the single notes well but when i looked for bending technique on this site, all i found was what to do if you couldn't do it the right way. What is the right way?

Hello 'Chief'. Tricky question. I'll try to suggest a couple of 'simple' answers. There are really two different approaches to bends. Some players/teachers suggest mimicking syllables.

For example: for draw bends - use a hole and reed that's pretty easy to bend, like #4 hole, on a low G or A diatonic harp. The lower the scale, the longer the reeds, and the easier they are to bend. On #4 draw reed, put your mouth around it, and say 'aah, oooh, aah'. When you pronounce the 'oooh', you should feel your tongue going to the rear of your mouth cavity, towards your throat. And you should hear the pitch of the reed go down, and then come back up with the second 'aah'.

For Blow reeds (like a #9 or #10 hole), play the note, and then say 'Teeeee', like the English drink. Again, you should hear the pitch of the reed lower when you say 'teeee'.

Another way to do it, which I really like better is to VISUALIZE the reed in your mind, based on its normal tone. For draw notes (back to #4 hole), you want to 'pull' on the reed, by pulling back with your tongue, and using airflow from your diaphragm (below your lungs). Really concentrate on not just using the mouth cavity. Try to start good habits early on, so you won't have to correct bad habits later.

And for blow reeds (back to #9 or #10 hole, blow reed), visualize your tongue pushing against the reed. But don't let your tongue go too far forward, or you'll stop the reed from vibrating. Get the reed to play, and then, gently, and carefully, start to push your tongue a little bit forward. The reed tone should start to flatten downwards. There's a feel to it. Don't forget to breathe from your belly again; try to avoid just using your mouth cavity.

The more you practice this, the better the feel you'll develop. It's not really as hard as it sounds!

Don't be surprised if you have trouble with draw bends on holes #5 and #7, and blow bends on hole #6, and a bit on hole #7. The bend semi-tones are harder to get on these reeds.

You might be better off with a plastic bodied diatonic like a LO, Special 20, Golden Melody, etc., too, because lack of air-tightness won't be a problem.

Regards, Jeremy c/o

Good luck, and don't quit! Keep trying, and be patient with yourself!

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