Today we’re talking with David Barrett, one of the world’s leading harmonica teachers and experts in blues music. David is the author of over 70 music education books including Mel Bay’s main harmonica tutor books, he is the founder of, the leading online training provider for learning blues harmonica, and he has also somehow found the time to found and run the world’s only music school dedicated to the blues, the School of the Blues in San Jose, California. He is also a Grammy-Nominated blues harmonica player who still regularly performs and records.

We were really eager to pick David’s brains on harmonica, the blues and also improvisation, and he delivered 110% on all three.

In this conversation you’re going to hear:

  • Why harmonica is both a very difficult and also a slightly easier instrument to figure out by ear
  • Why it is that harmonica and the blues are so closely associated with one another
  • What characterises blues music
  • And how David teaches his students to go beyond just memorising licks and riffs and build musically-meaningful improvised solos that will connect with the audience

This is definitely not a conversation only for those of you into blues music or who play the harmonica. There is a ton packed in here that’s relevant for any instrument and style of music. That said, we suspect that by the end you may have had your mind and ears opened to the possibilities that blues and harmonica might hold for you, too…

Listen to the episode:

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We interview harmonica master David Barrett on the relationship between harmonica and the Blues, and how to go beyond licks and riffs to unlock true improv.