January 13, 2017

A Harmonica Lesson with Yvonnick Prene

If you haven’t heard of this guy you need to check him out. He can really play some serious jazz on the chromatic harmonica and he is deadly serious about his practice regime. I had a gig in New York City so I contacted him and stayed an extra day to meet him for a 90 minute lesson on January 9th, 2017. He showed me some things like where he puts the extra half steps in his lines to make things land right. He also showed me this 2 triad concept that’s a little different than what I’m used to doing. These were a half step apart rather than a whole step and he uses that to create tension. There was no way he could show me everything he does but he really emphasized learning the harmony to jazz standards and a process he goes through including just playing the roots of the chords over and over in tempo until he starts internalizing the harmony. Then playing roots and thirds. He has been working out a lot with the metronome at slow tempos with the click on every 8 beats so he just patiently plays quarter notes to work on his time.

Playing good jazz on an instrument is a challenge. I’ve been working on jazz saxophone for many years of course but playing those same lines on the harmonica in a multitude of keys is Mount Everest for me. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I must conquer the summit!

Bluesette-Harmonica Lesson (23min)

In this lesson I will walk you through 16 exercises on Bluesette by Toots Thielemans. I’ll explain jazz improvisation techniques such as guide tones, arpeggios, patterns and how to apply them in a musical context. Musician: Felix Lemerle on guitar and Yvonnick Prene on chromatic harmonica. Filmed in New York City.

Yvonnick has also published a few harmonica books that are for sale on Amazon. I have purchased three of them. There’s a few spelling mistakes I meant to talk to him about but the musical content is solid and there are links included in the book to download samples of the phrases and tunes. Please take a look at his website to learn more about this recording artist and educator and listen to his amazing jazz harmonica playing.

Coincidently, I also ran into another astonishing NYC jazz harmonica artist William Galison on the same trip!

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