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Jerry Portnoy's Blues Harmonica Masterclass Box set

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, June 26, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

3-CD box set with with instructional CDs & accompanying book is a comprehensive & easy-to-use lesson on how to learn to play the harmonica. Portnoy, who's been in the Muddy Waters & Eric Clapton bands, realized other instructional materials put all of the explanations into the text of a book, and the accompanying sound reference consisted only of playing examples, so Jerry put everything on the CDs so you don't have to switch back & forth between the two. He starts at the very beginning on how to hold the harmonica, all the way to milking special sounds & effects out of the harp, and finally includes blues guitar jams to play along with.


The best blues harmonica instruction ... bar none! --Blues Revue Magazine

Head and shoulders above any other harmonica instruction kit...the best in the business. --Real Blues Magazine

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Holding the Harmonica
  3. Chord Rhythm
  4. Tongue Blocking
  5. Changeover Scale
  6. Syncopating Chords
  7. Back Rhythm
  8. Octaves
  9. Draw Octaves
  10. Simple Songs
  11. Pursed Lips
  12. Lip Blocking
  13. Bar Structure

Disc: 2

  1. Intro to Bending Notes
  2. Bending Techniques
  3. Bends With Syncopating Chords
  4. Bending Exercises
  5. Upper Register Blow Bends
  6. Transitions
  7. 2 Draw Vs. 3 Blow
  8. Intro to Special Effects
  9. Vibrato
  10. Warbles
  11. Flutters
  12. Growls
  13. Barks
  14. Kiss Pops
  15. Rips and Glisses
  16. Double and Triple Tonguing
  17. Turnaround Figure
  18. Tongue Switching
  19. Special Chords
  20. Shaping Notes
  21. Use of Hands

Disc: 3

  1. Breathing and Diaphragm Attack
  2. Positions
  3. "Saints" - 5 Positions
  4. Boogies - 3 Positions
  5. Mics, Amps, and Playing With a Band
  6. Closing Remarks
  7. E March With Harp
  8. E March
  9. E Shuffle With Harp
  10. E Shuffle
  11. E Blues With Harp
  12. E Blues
  13. A March With Harp
  14. A March
  15. A Shuffle With Harp
  16. A Shuffle
  17. A Blues With Harp
  18. A Blues
  19. B March With Harp
  20. B March
  21. B Shuffle With Harp
  22. B Shuffle
  23. B Minor Blues With Harp
  24. B Minor Blues

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 26, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Jerry Portnoy's
  • ASIN: B00005KJ36
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,996 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I have never felt strongly enough about any product to take the trouble to write up a rating. But, the potential of this 3 CD set to dramatically enhance the ability of any but the most accomplished harmonicist (diatonic or chromatic) is enormous. The title is slightly misleading, but in a good way. I would not confine its benefits to blues (diatonic) harp players!
I had purchased and aggressively used all the top-rated blues harp instructional products (including those available at Amazon), avoiding Portnoy's because of its relatively high cost. Mistake! It's not that the other materials are not worthwhile. It's that Portnoy's CD set is where I should have started. Learning from the rest of the instructional material out there would then have come much easier. After "taking" Jerry's Masterclass, I find myself going back to the other material with far greater technical ability and a more thorough understanding of the instrument that grant me fuller access to information I was previously unable to absorb.
In this Masterclass Portnoy clearly articulates even the most difficult to understand nuances of playing effective harmonica, rendering the material accessible even (especially?) by a beginner. As the serious student of any musical instrument should expect, Jerry carefully concentrates on all the fundamentals. He takes his "student" through each technique in small steps, giving superb examples all the way. You just follow along with Jerry's lessons on your diatonic (in the key of A), stopping and repeating at your own pace until you're comfortable with each new technique. You decide when to go on to the next lesson, and can come back for a refresher any time (a highly recommended practice).
If you want to learn specific blues licks, there are better resources.
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By A Customer on November 6, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I've been playing about 30 years, and a friend wanted to learn to play blues harp from me. I told him just have a miserable life and the rest would take care of itself. After that, I began to look at instructional material to help him. Jerry Portnoy's set is the best. Period. The other materials are divided into either playing Oh, Susannah or learning licks (which is difficult for beginners.) Portnoy provides a very good sequential method of learning. This is a great harp player and a smart guy who can also teach. Just buy this course and forget about the rest.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you can find an instructor, Harmonica lessons can cost between $20-$75 and hour, and you have no idea how good the teacher is. This is a great Blues Harpist who also happens to be a really good teacher. For the cost of 1-3 hours of professional instruction, you can get this set.

I'd recommend buying this. Th

There are cheaper sets on the market. In fact I think this is the most expensive set of it's kind. A lot of the less expensive sets are the ones where the author has you playing simple songs in 5 minutes. 6 months later, you may be able to play 2 or 3 songs, but that's about it. The harp, book, and CD end up in a drawer.

If you buy these, you will NOT be playing simple sings in 5 minutes. You will learn the techniques that will allow you to make continual self-directed progress. You will be able to expand your repertoire as you progress. By the time you're done, you will know how to teach yourself to play the music you hear.

If you already play a little (like I was when I got this set) you should still go back to the beginning and see what he's got to teach. This guy is a serious Harpist. He's played with BB King & Eric Clapton.

It requires time and patience. The author understands how to teach, and he understands the limitations of the "CD/book set" as a medium. The CD talks you through each exercise, and you learn skills. He gives you clear instructions, and he provides examples of what each exercise should sound like.

This is incremental instruction. The lessons are short and structured. You will want a CD player where you can pause and go back pretty easily.
You will also need a Harp in A. I recommend you skip the $3-5 cheapies and get something good.
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Format: Audio CD
This book contains all you need to know about playing the harmonica. Jerry wastes no time diving into fun and useful techniques. He will show you how the blues monster get their big sound. Every chapter is important in its own way. You start with rhythmic exercises, then single notes, scales, special effects, modes. He doesn't repeat himself all that much, but he helps you develop your technique slowly. So make sure you don't skip through those chapters too fast. If it takes you 6 months before you get to the last chapter, i think it's just fine.

This set will benefit absolute beginners as well as advanced players. This set however targets people who are serious about learning. If you're willing to take it a step at a time and build up your skills, this is the right choice for you.

One thing Jerry doesn't show is licks, riffs, patterns. He suggests you get that by listening to artists you like. But he gives you the necessary tools to understand how riffs are played. This set is mostly about technique, he becomes your teacher for a couple hours. Creativity is left to you.

It ends with a nice selection of play-along blues tracks. You'll learn in various keys and at various tempos.

You will need an harmonica in A.

The CD set is a bit pricey, it certainly could be more affordable, but once you get it, you'll forget about the money. It's really worth it.

The presentation is excellent, the booklet is filled with artwork and fun photos - a nice complement to the audio. One thing I would suggest as an improvement: some of the written content is mostly the same as some of the audio content. I would have liked to see some analysis of his playing in the the play-along tracks.
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