The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music


My father wants to obtain songbook that specifically has the song “John Henry” played on a harmonica. He played a harmonica when he was younger and he wants to renew that experience in these later years. Please advise how to obtain a songbook for learning to play.


Our method teaches one how to play a string instrument. Of course, the music principles apply to any instrument, but this wouldn't help learn harmonica technique.

Here is a link to the the song's lyrics and audio track that he can listen to and play along with on his harmonica in the key of C.


Gayle, while this is a great method to learn string instruments for harmonica, search the internet for “John Henry harmonica tabs” for your father. He will have to learn “that” method but, it does work and is easy. Here is an example:


Goggle is the harp-players good friend. try this for John Henry:

and for a how-to book, there are hundreds, some good, some not so good. A basic first decision is what kind of harp he wants to play- diatonic, chromatic, or tremolo, then what kind of music - gospel/country/folk/bluegrass - or blues?

Harmonica for Dummies is a good book - and not for 'dummies'.

happy harpin'



“John Henry” harmonica tablature is also in a Mel Baybook called “The Backpacker's Songbook” by Jerry Silverman. This is not an instruction book. The tab differs from the on-line version and appears a bit more 'advanced' although I have not tried either version. I would be open to chatting with your dad on non-blues stuff.

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