Courses overview

Diatonic harmonica

Olivier Vander Bauwede
MABO - Lycée Maria-Boodschap - Rue de la Braie 22, 1000 Bruxelles

The diatonic harmonica is an indispensable instrument for the blues. Whilst it was designed in Europe as a portable toy for playing simple tunes, in the United States it has become an instrument in its own right, known as the “blues harp”. The harmonica is a unique instrument which you alternately suck and blow, and on which you can play notes and chords individually. The sound can be reshaped with different techniques, making it close to that of a singing voice.

The blues have a rich history: they contain elements of African music and have had a great influence on the development of rock, soul and pop music. Although the harmonica was never designed for this genre, it has proved to be a perfect match for the harmony and sound of the African-American music that developed in the late 19th century.

The lessons focus on traditional American music such as blues and roots, where the harmonica player can play the role of soloist or rhythmic accompanist. Reading music is by no means obligatory, as we learn mainly by ear. Some theoretical aspects will be explained, but it is mainly the control of rhythm, the pleasure of playing and personal expression that will be important. In addition to techniques specific to the instrument, learning how to improvise is also central. You will also learn how to play well-known themes and riffs, how to play with others, and how to guide.

These lessons are suitable for all levels. Knowledge of music theory or reading sheet music is not required. We work mainly by ear.

Olivier Vander Bauwede

Olivier Vander Bauwede is a harmonicist and multi-instrumentalist from Ghent.

In his teenage years he developed a passion for the blues and learned to play music on his own. Later he broadened his knowledge of music by studying jazz at the Jazzstudio and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. He immersed himself in the harmonica, influenced by players such as Steven De Bruyn, Joe Filisko and Steve Baker. He is mainly active on the Belgian blues scene and plays with Guy Verlinde and the “Missy Sippy All Stars”, a group of promising young musicians led by Tiny Legs Tim. In addition to focusing on blues and jazz, he has also worked as a studio musician for television, radio and theatre productions.

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Come and discover this course during the free meeting session on Tuesday 22 September 2020, from 6 to 8 pm.

Collective lesson (10 classes/cycle)

Tuesday between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm (depending on the number of registrants)

The time of the lesson is determined in consultation with the teacher.

Registration is required from the second course of the cycle. Sign up before 27 September 2020 and pay 10 euros less!


MABO - Lycée Maria-Boodschap
Rue de la Braie 22, 1000 Bruxelles


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If necessary the teacher can vary the calendar in consultation with the course members.