The Hohner Echo harmonica, sometimes referred to as a double-reed harmonica, is a harmonica that features two reeds for each set of notes. The notes on each set of reeds are an octave apart and vibrate slightly off pitch from one another, creating a unique "echo" effect. Besides the makeup of the harmonica, there is no difference in playing a Hohner Echo from any other type of harmonica. The music and techniques are the same, which makes the Hohner Echo an ideal starting harmonica for anyone interested in playing.
Learn the notes on your Hohner Echo harmonica. There are many models of these Echo harmonicas. These notes are all included in key of C models: the top holes are C-E-G-C-E-G-C-E-G-C, and the bottom holes are D-G-B-D-F-A-B-D-F-A. Depending upon your model, your notes may be positioned differently. You can find a note chart for Echo harmonicas online at no charge (see the Resources).
Place the harmonica against your mouth. Cover the top holes with your lips and gently blow, directing the air to one hole at a time. Begin with the first hole (left) and work your way up. Blowing is how you sound the notes on the top set of reeds.
Place your mouth on your Echo harmonica again, this time with your lips covering the bottom set of reeds. Draw (suck) on one hole at a time, directing the suction to a single hole. Begin with the first hole (left) and work your way up. Drawing is how you get notes from the bottom set of reeds.
Learn to read harmonica tablature. This is a simple method of reading music favored by harmonica players. It consists of a horizontal line with measures of music separated by vertical lines. Numbers written above the line indicate blow notes, and numbers written below the line are draw notes. This is the simplest, most logical way to get started reading music for harmonica.
Locate your favorite harmonica songs in tablature. You can purchase them from a music store or find them online at no charge (see the Resources). Playing familiar songs is the quickest way to get accustomed to your Hohner Echo.
Practice techniques that add flavor to your playing style. Blow or draw a note, then fold your tongue and change the direction of your air either up or down to bend notes. This allows you to hit sharp or flat notes and adds a blues feel to your playing. Flutter your tongue against the hole to make a trill, which is a slight fluctuation of the note tone. This is also a technique used in blues harmonica playing. These two techniques will add color to the songs you play.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.