Level III Instruction

Level III Instruction Audio Tracks and Notation Sets

The Level III player is generally someone:
- with six months or more of playing experience
- who has developed a degree of confidence with, and repertoire in
              - twelve bar blues structure
              - shuffle rhythm
              - who can play from memory and with competence, at least one tune from Level II or equivelent. 

The goal of Level III material is to introduce the student to the wide variety of challenging repertoire with basic bending and intermediate tongue blocking.

All sets are - in download and hard copy. Click on category tree on left, to choose song, get description, number of tracks and pages of transcription, hear sample track and purchase.

Below are all LeveI III titles and general info

1-P BluesThis song is a study of 1st position or straight harp blues in the straight eight note rumba groove. The very first known recording of blues harp was actually played in 1st position on January 31, 1924, and up until John Lee Williamson and Sonny Terry started recording in 1937, the percentage of 1st and 2nd position recordings was almost the same. Players generally have avoided the middle range of the harp in 1st and either play on the low or high range. This arrangement actually utilizes the full range of the harp. The bends on both the high and low end can be quite difficult. My hope is that this arrangement will help to shed light on how to navigate around in 1st and give you a basic idea of how to make the most powerful blues sounds without advanced bending skills. While it can be said that basic 2nd pos blues is mostly inhaling on holes 1-5, this song is very challenging because it uses all 10 hole inhaling and exhaling. Page 6 is the exception with ALL exhaling notes.
3-P BluesLevel III - This song is a study of what harp players call "third position." It is playing with hole 1, 4 & 8 inhale becoming your new "home" or "root note." Third position was first recorded by Little Walter in December, 1951 and has become a part of nearly every professional’s sound and style, being used somewhere from 10% to 25% of the time. It can become very helpful when navigating through minor key songs but as this piece shows, does not necessarily have to be used exclusively as minor. It works with all blues. Set includes 23 tracks and 7 pages of instruction sheets.
5-P BluesThis song will help you to play in what is known to most harp players as 5th position. Instead of having the 2 hole inhale as your root, it is now your 2 hole exhale. This position is great for minor keys as the flat 3rd, flat 6th and flat 7th are readily available. While this particular arrangement will work great for "C#m," it also works just as well for the key of "C#," more commonly known as "Db." Your greatest challenge on this piece will be to avoid the "danger tones" which are 1 & 4 exhale and 5 inhale. This piece will also work without a "Quick IV."
6-P BluesThis song is a study of the 6th position with a nod to Rice Miller's "Help Me" and Booker T's "Green Onions." Please do make note that "Help Me" was NOT played in 6th position nor am I implying that it should be. Just happens to work fairly well. The very first known recording of blues harp in 6th was played by Eddie Mapp in a Curley Weaver song called "No No Blues" on May 26, 1929. There doesn't appear to be any other recordings of 6th until Little Walter took a one-chorus chromatic harp solo in an instrumental called "That's It" on July 23, 1953. 6th position is the most uncommon of the 7 modal positions. I personally have found that there is a fair amount of potential for it is as a blues position and hope to convey that potential in this piece.
B1 BluesThis study song uses a common riff based off the notes in the Major 6 chord of the chord change. Many other commom blues licks are used in the body of the piece. It is named after the famous "B1" blues room at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. 7 Instructional pages and 20 tracks.
Bhumba RhumbaThis song is a study in the straight eighth rumba groove which is NOT a shuffle or swing type of groove. The rumba groove is most commonly characterized by the riff played on page 1 and 8. This is a groove that should be in every blues harp players repertoire. 9 pages of instruction notations and 32 instruction tracks
Big Jim's BluesIntermediate Instruction - This lesson is a five chorus instrumental designed for an intermediate player to help develop techniques and abilities that can put the player on a path to better understand the traditional blues harmonica sound. This piece is a slow, low-down, Delta type of blues that exclusively uses the 6 note blues scale and heavily focuses on full bends on holes number 2 and number 4. Lesson includes the song played acoustically and played amplified in it's complete form. Each chorus played individually at two different tempos and the essential background practice tracks. This song is in the key of "E", requiring an "A" harmonica. 22-track disc and 6 pages of notations in a zip file download.
Boot Camp TrampThis song is a study of the straight eighth (NOT a shuffle) groove most commonly known as the "Tramp groove from the "Tramp," popularized by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas. 9 instructional sheets and 30 tracks.
BS Blues - Parts 1 and 2NOTE: 2 part download. This song is a study in the six-note blues scale. This is one of my more difficult songs due to the exacting bends needed on hole three. If your bends here are weak or sloppy, the minor key blues will not likely work as well for you as the standard blues, which is more forgiving of sloppy bends. Being able to confidently and accurately play the blues scale will add many possiblilites to your playing, including playing over minor keys. 9 Instruction pages, TRACKS 1 - 20 (of 38 tracks) are included in this download. NOTE: The download for this title is sold in two sets due to large file size. -Both sets include instruction pages. -THIS SET has tracks 1 - 20; set 2 has tracks 21 - 38. -Each set is $5.
Buffalo Shuffle-OThis song is a Chicago style song that uses a very common blues type of melodic head on the 1st & 6th chorus. You will hear influences by Big Walter and Little Walter. I named it after a place in the states that I am very fond of and has been exceptionally good to me, Buffalo, New York. 7 Instruction pages and 26 tracks
Bye Bye BirdThis is a beginning-intermediate, 6 chorus instrumental that focuses on the style of harp legend Rice Miller and designed to help develop techniques and abilities that can put the player on a path to better understand the blues harmonica sound. Lesson includes the song played acoustically and played amplified in it's complete form. Each chorus played individually at two different tempos and the essential background practice tracks. This song is in the key of "E" using an "A" harmonica. 27 track disc and 7 pages of notations.
Chasin' Lost Sonny DownloadChasin' Lost Sonny Download - Please note that there are two things different about this song, “Chasin' Lost Sonny.” First, it is twice the price. That is because it was at least twice as hard to prepare as anything else here in the Filisko Store. The second is that there is not a single defined final arrangement for the song but instead, numerous building blocks that you will need to arrange into your own version of Sonny's stylistic. If you goal is to capture his special style, you will need to do a lot of listening to the numerous versions of this type of piece that he recorded. Some of those are listed in the song notes. You will hear these building blocks and countless variations of them. Please also go back and review the song notes often and continually listen to the sample tracks on the CD.
E-Z BluezLevel III Beginning-Intermediate 5-chorus melodic blues instrumental to help develop techniques and abilities that can put the player on a path to better understand the blues harmonica sound. Also a light study in the style of Walter Horton. Lesson includes the song played acoustically and played amplified in it's complete form. Each chorus played individually at two different tempos and the essential background practice tracks. This song is in the key of "F" using a "Bb" harmonica. 22 track disc and 6 pages of notations
East Aurora ShuffleLevel III - Medium Tempo 12 Bar Blues Shuffle - This song is intended to be on of the easier Level III songs. It is actually a revised version of "Buffalo Shuffle-O" which is named after Rick Nicotra and numerous other friends in the Buffalo, New York areas. After using it for a few years, I decided to make some upgrades to it. This song very much has a Big Walter type of sound to it. The head hints of T.D.'s Boogie Woogie and is very recognizable as classic Chicago Blues that I think every blues harp player should know.
Henry's LamentThis is a study of the first known cross harp approach to playing the harmonica that was originally often referred to as “choking.” Henry Whitter recorded a few versions of this in 1923 called “Rain Crow Bill Blues” and “The Old Time Fox Chase” followed by “Weepin’ Blues” and “Rabbit Race” in 1924 and “Lost John” in 1925. This original Filisko study song is intended to help folks get oriented at larger and more complicated pieces in this FoxChase & LostJohn tradition. My goal is for it to be the pathway to undertaking the cross harp approach of DeFord Bailey, Kyle Wooten, Palmer McAbee, Henry Whitter & others.
I. O. U. BluesThis is a study in slow blues and in developing the EP (exhale push). IOU Blues stands for Inhale Only Ultimate Blues. Most of the powerful blues sounds come from inhaling, so it made sense to me to write an inhaling only study song. This is much in the spirit of the slow blues by Little Walter, but does not have the advanced bending demands on hole 3. Be sure to read up on the Breathing Guides. 5 instruction sheets and 15 tracks.
I Need By Baby BluesThis song is a study of the style of Walter Horton and how we would likely play a melodic type of blues. Please pay careful attention to the anticipated / swung notes & chords, the quarter note triplets in the solo page and on page 7, and the consistent use of throat tremolo. As a long term goal, please work towards incorporating the use of bright head tones. ALWAYS be listening to Walter's recordings!!! 8 pages of instruction notations and 26 instruction tracks
Jail W BluesLevel III - This is a study of the style and techniques of John Lee Williamson (JLW) a.k.a. Sonny Boy Williamson #1. His largely acoustic playing style may be the most imitated acoustic blues style in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. Play all clean single notes using tongue blocking and switch for hole #1. John Lee was the master at playing dirty with great precision. He even applied it to the splits not shown in this study. You should first learn this piece clean and then slowly try to incorporate in the "dirt."
Key to the High WeighThis song is a detailed study in playing over the popular 8 bar blues associated with the song "Key to the Highway." Goals are learning to improvise over the 8 bar form and to improvise around the melody. The biggest challenges will be to "own" the melody, develop the technique necessary to play the bends with precision, and become solid with the 8 bar form. Going to the "V" on bar 2 will be very challenging. You must learn to avoid resolving on the tonic note (2 inhale) in the second bar and fine tune your bend on hole 3. Ten Instruction pages and 24 tracks.
Little BoogieThis song is a study of one of the blues harmonica essentials, playing a boogie riff. In the late 1940’s and early 50’s, this style of piece was recorded by Walter Horton, who appears to have called himself “Little Walter,” Forrest City Joe and Jimmy Rogers with more to follow. If you are able to play the first few bars with confidence and good rhythm, you will be able to start the song without a count-off and signal the band in at the IV chord. This song is also a warm-up for the study song “Shakey’s Boogie,” which is a warm up for the classic instrumental“Walter’s Boogie.”
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