Harmonica and Piano Instruction
(Last Updated on 04/12/2008)


This page provides a list of reviewed and recommended music/blues books metioned throughout this web page. I have used or played through ALL of the books listed below.   (I have also used or played through a whole bunch of other books that did not make this list.)   I hope you find this list helpful.      
I always encourage people to shop locally and support your local merchants.     However, if you don't have ready access to a music store or you simply want to order on the   "book name"   at the end of the description and it will take you directly to that music book on AMAZON.COM
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Beginning Harmonica Instruction Books
To order from on the book title
[gif] Instant Harmonica David McKelvy [gif]
...(Hal Leonard Publications) Includes CD...

My overall favorite book. Great instruction, good choice of songs, clear concise examples.   Lesson increase in level of difficulty in smooth increments without becoming boring.  Has a couple of great beginner solos that can be polished to performance level with some work. Starts on basic harmonica and moves to beginning blues.
To order from on the book title
Order the book Complete Idiot's guide to Playing the Harmonica [gif]

I don't usually recommend these sorts of guides...but in this case the book seems to be useful for beginners. It will guide you through the basics of holding and playing the harmonica. A book for those intimidated by "music instruction" books.
To order from on the book title
Order the book Building Harmonica Technique [gif] David Barrett (Mel Bay Publications)
Includes CD

Contains incremental techniques and theory. This really isn't a beginner's book...but a good book to move to after you've worked your way through the others.
Includes CD.

To order from on the book title
Order the book [gif] Christmas Songs for Harmonica Phil Duncan...(Mel Bay Publications)

Don't let the thought of playing Christmas songs on a harmonica keep you away from this book. This is well thought out harmonica instruction and ANY BEGINNER can learn a lot from this book. Like all of Phil Duncan's books...this one is very well organized. He re-addresses the basics of harmonica playing but this is primarily a repertoire book.

Harmonica Blues's Instruction Books
Suggestion: If you're a total beginner on Harmonica...DON'T start with blues books.
Beginning Blues books are great....but blues techniques require pre-existing harmonica skills. Start with a basic harmonica book. Learn to play some tunes. Learn breath control, lipping, and some hand dynamics. Then start playing blues.
NOTE: If you have the choice..Never buy an instruction book for blues harmonica without the CD. It is nearly imperative that you hear the sound to learn it.
To order from on the book title
[smp] Complete Classic Chicago Blues Harp [gif] David Barrett (Mel Bay Publications)...Includes a CD

Includes the requisite instruction in blues bends, playing techniques, and a lot of licks. Also includes several complete blues songs (lots of books only give you blues licks")
To order from on the book title
[smp] Blues harmonica Collection [gif] McKelvy

VERY NICE collection of blues tunes.   The book is great,   but the lack of a CD may make some songs difficult for the beginner/early intermediate player to grasp.     If you have these songs on CD from one of the artists, then you are in luck.
(NOTE: This book is not for the raw beginner)...get some practice first
Jon Gindick     has a series of harmonica books for the "So called" musically hopeless, that can get you going.   These books are a little short on music theory training....but that's not Gindick's goal.   Jon wants to teach the basics of music and get you started playing the instrument quickly. Jon has a whole series of books that can take you a long ways towards playing the harmonica well.

To order from on the book title

Order the book NEW VERSION....
Rock N' Blues Harmonica

Order the book Cross Harp Songbook...

Order the book Natural Blues [gif]

Piano/Keyboard Blues Books
To order from on the book title

[bk] Beginning Blues Keyboard Method [gif] Tricia Woods...(national Keyboard Workship
Tricia Woods' books are some of the BEST I've found....I really loved these books!!!
I have received multiple E-mails from other blues piano/keybaord players who also highly recommend these books. Tricia's books provide the usual blues basics, theory, chord progressions, etc....but but what really sets these books apart from the rest is the SOUND. Even the simple practice pieces in this book sound great. The bass lines are simple but effective and the right hand "blues" notes are GREAT.

[bk] Intermediate Blues Keyboard Method [gif] Tricia Woods...(national Keyboard Workship
The intermediate version is great!
To order from AMAZON.COM on the book title

[bk] Fast Forward:  12 Bar Blues for Piano [gif] Jack Long...(Wise Publications)
[bk] Fast Forward:   Real Blues for Keyboard [gif] Jeff Hammer...(Wise Publications
[bk] Fast Forward:   Cool Blues for Keyboard [gif] Jeff Hammer...(Wise Publications

All of these books from the "Fast Forward series"   have great blues riffs and several outstanding blues variations. Like most books of this type, all three books concentrate on blues technique and blues basics...but in this case the variations and riffs have been incorporated into nice sounding 12 bar blues jams that you can actually use as a complete blues pieces. Each book contains a differenct style blues sound, so there is very little duplication between books.       Very good books to start your blues education...
To order from on the book title
[gif] Exploring Basic Blues [gif] Bill Boyd (Hal Leonard Publications)

A VERY good book on blues basics although it contains no CD or cassette. Boyd takes your thru exercises, theory, and improvisations. Explores various blues styles from early blues, thru Dixieland, swing, boogie and rock. Great book on 12 bar blues style...if it had a CD it would be perfect!
To order from on the book title
[gif] Basic Blues.... [gif] Ron Payne (Hal Leonard Publications)
Contains 12 variations around the 12 bar blues progression. Teaches chords and inversions. Looks at different rhythms and playing techniques. Lots of blues bits and pieces...good instruction. Lots of blues technique..not very many complete blues songs.
[smp] Minor Blues Tunes in all 12 Keys [gif] Jordon Ruwe (Hal Leonard publisher)

A GREAT book for minor blues. Contains songs, riffs, and selected excerpts. Walks you thru minor blues scales, progressions, chords, and variations. A great addition to your blues education.
Hard to find but worth it!!!
To order from on the book title
[gif] Blues Hanon [gif] Leo Alfassy (Amsco Publications)
A modern spin off on the ever popular Hanon exercises. Provides a number of blues exercises (bass and melody line) in progressive levels of difficulty. Very good book but it would benefit from having a CD or cassette available.
To order from on the book title
[gif] Boogie Woogie Hanon [gif]
by Leo Alfassy (Amsco Publications) A modern spin off on the ever popular Hanon exercises. Not a blues book exactly but I include it because the boogie woogie bass line shows up in lots of blues songs. This book will definitely help your left hand. Very good book but it would benefit from having a CD or cassette available.
To order from MUSIC BOOKS on the book title
order the book David Cohen Teaches the Blues [gif]
...Book & CD
This book delivers what the title promises.   It does indeed teach you "how" to play the blues...rather than simply provide blues tunes.   For those looking for some blues piano theory...presented in an understandable format...AND with a CD to boot...then this is your book.
order the book David Cohen Teaches the Blues   vol 2 [gif]
...Book & CD
Move good instruciton from Cohen.     If your are serious about learning the blues and you like both books together and save money.

The books in this section are oriented primarily towards repetoire and contain less instruction. Some of these books are compilations of basic blues tunes...others contain a mixture of blues technique, blues songs, and blues "riffs".
To order from on the book title
[gif] The Definitive Blues Collection [gif]
...(Hal Leonard Publications)
A very good collection of blues tunes. Most of these are recognizable blues songs in their original format, which means that the piano part is mostly accompaniment rather than solo. If you're looking for those flashy blues'll have to look elsewhere but this is still a good book for basic blues songs.
To order from on the book title
Order the book 100 Ultimate Blues Riffs [gif]

An excellent collection of blues riffs. This is not an instruction book nor is it a compliation of blues tunes (although it does contain two complete blues songs), it does however contain tons of blues riffs in different keys, styles, and rhythms. It also has a section on hooking these riffs together into a more complete blues solo. This is a must have book for aspiring blues pianists/keyboardists.     NOTE: Beginners may find this book a bit daunting...and they may have some trouble integrating the riffs in this book into their blues playing. Early intermediate (and onwards) players will find a lot of good blues ideas.
To order from on the book title
Order the book BarrelHouse and Boogie Piano [gif] Eric Kriss
This is an Intermediate level book (total beginners will have trouble learning from this book). It is a cross section compliation of old barrelhouse/blues piano styles...and it is a great compliation. The book explores various early blues piano style. NOTE: This is NOT a "how to" book
Folk Jerry Silverman
      (Silverman publishing....a Division of Saw Mill Music Corp).
A good compilation of "down home" original blues songs. This book concentrates on basic blues providing the right hand melody and a very basic left hand. Once again no flashy piano solos. This book chronicles songs by blues legends and those not so well known. The sheet music provides only the basic melody lines and you fill in the rest with improvisation.


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