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Breathe Better - Help COPD and Panic With Harmonica

Updated on April 18, 2015
brakel2 profile image

A medical background and interest in research created Audrey Selig's interest in writing about medical issues.

Breathe Better with Harmonica

Playing the harmonica creates a feeling of ecstasy if you have breathing problems. The mouth organ, as it is sometimes called, creates sounds as you inhale and exhale through the reeds. You will learn how this tiny metal instrument can relax you and help you to breathe better. A brief tutorial helps you choose a harmonica and then start the process.Unusual studies show how this method helps COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and panic. The music helps breathing so much that you may feel like you are soaring like a bird while creating sound. You will learn how patients can improve from the pleasure of the harmonica and how to purchase and use the instrument.

Man Playing Harmonica
Man Playing Harmonica

Musician with Transplants Improves Life for Patients

Larry Rawdon, a musician, had already undergone one lung transplant and was about to have a second transplant. He gave up hope of improvement. However, he met a thoracic surgeon who told him about improving breathing with harmonica. His wife gave him two instruments as Christmas presents, which delighted him. He soon learned how to play the instrument by watching a video, and began giving lessons at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. He found, through his own breathing, the improvement after use of the harmonica. His classes began in 2006, and patients had fun and enjoyed better breathing. He even contacted a music company and persuaded them to donate instruments to help the class. In the meantime, other studies showed the harmonica helps anxiety and panic.

Cupping Hands for Better Breathing

Man Cupping Hands Playing Harmonica
Man Cupping Hands Playing Harmonica | Source

How to Buy and Use Harmonica for Beginners

You can buy a harmonica for under $20.00 at a music store. At a later time, you may desire a better instrument.

When you first acquire it, play with it for a while. Place it by your lips and start breathing in and out. Make sure you breathe from your diaphragm and not your upper chest. You might practice breathing without the harmonica for a little while. Some people are not used to diaphragm breathing. Only the diaphragm should move up and down and not the upper chest.

After you master this technique, start gently with the in and out breath. You can practice for a few minutes the first day. When you get used to breathing with gentle breaths, you can graduate to more powerful breaths or vary the breaths. Try going up and down the scale.

After you have done this for a few weeks, you might try cupping your hands and making more music. Without taking lessons, you can gradually make chords and little tunes, Someday, you may wish to learn by watching a video on the computer. The video below will help you with breathing and playing the instrument.

Harmonica, Anxiety, and Panic

In 2008, Delta Psychiatric Hospital in the Netherlands began a program using the harmonica to help patients with anxiety and more serious illnesses. The head of Delta says such teaching is all over the world.

Another man in the US, David Harp, has taught thousands to play - those with breathing problems, and those who want to have mindfulness and be calm in the moment. Some students can do four breaths a minute.

This author began using the instrument in 2002 after reading about it. She had a heart ailment which brought on episodes of breathlessness and panic. Using it alone and with the help of a therapist, she had a breakthrough. Her breathlessness subsided, and she could maintain a longer breath. Playing was like being in Heaven, and her joy comes from knowing it can help others.

It helps to use the harmonica regularly each day. The author uses it about twice a day and anytime she feels breathless. It can prepare you for just about anything. There are times when the breathing does not work as well, but most of the time, it works by not allowing a full fledged attack.

This Little Harmonica Can Perform Miracles for Panic and COPD

A brand new harmonica to help patients breathe
A brand new harmonica to help patients breathe | Source


Could harmonica help this man?
Could harmonica help this man? | Source


The harmonica is a unique musical instrument. Pleasant sounds emanate from this small metal piece of the music world. Along the way, someone decided it would create better breathing, and help panic and COPD. Several people in the United States and a center in the Netherlands, encouraged by research, began to teach people with health problems to play the instrument. From those scenarios was born help for COPD and panic, and just plain fun for other musicians. The patients who use it for medical reasons use it in conjunction with other available therapies. The magic for the patients comes, not only from the health factor, but the music that moves their souls. Music is a healer, and, combined with the other benefits, can certainly change lives forever. The tiny instrument may improve longevity and allow patients to soar and sing like angels about their new mortality


Have you ever had COPD or trouble breathing from panic?

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Better Breathing With Harmonica


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    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks sujaya for your kind comment on my hub. Blessings, Audrey

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 

      3 years ago

      a nice interesting hub

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks Cam I thought you found it quickly, and I really like your FB page. I need to play my harmonica more often to improve my breathing.Thanks for your kind words. I have been to your flash fiction site and found many interesting tales. I wish our traffic would improve soon. What a bummer. Have a great day. Blessings. Audrey

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      3 years ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

      Audrey, sorry it took me so long to discover you post on my Facebook page, but this article is outstanding. I hope it reaches many who can find help in this creative way.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      3 years ago from USA

      Howdy Audrey (brakel2 on HubPages) -

      Now this is such a fine article. Your advice about blowing marvelous tunes on the harmonica would indeed assist these COPD'd lungs. I would run on over to the big box in the closet and dig out the old harmonica, but for one thing. It would kill me. Not the harmonica-blowing, but the hammer wielded by my bride for making noise instead of music. :-)))


    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      harmonica and playing the saxophone is almost the same, helps to improve the breathing

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Joel - Hey that us great to give harmonicas as gifts. You may help people with their breathing. It is so much fun to play, even if you don't have any expertise. I found out there are special harmonicas to help with breathing, and I am now investigating that idea. Will post results. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Blessings, Audrey

    • Joel Diffendarfer profile image

      Joel Diffendarfer 

      4 years ago from Ft Collins, Colorado

      Love it. I buy harmonicas every year as Christmas gifts. Some people don't get it until they pick it up...and play...

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      4 years ago from North Carolina

      So glad to read what the harmonica did for you, Audrey. I have a close friend with COPD so know first hand what it can cause as you write about here and have experienced. A truly helpful hub that will be shown to this friend. Thank you!

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Deal - I really appreciate your reading my article and making the kind comments. You are right, breathing exercises are the greatest form of exercises. They give your lungs more power and makes your life better. I think you came from Squidoo, and if so, welcome to this site. I will read your profile again and look at your hubs. Best of luck with your writing. Blessings, Audrey

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Peggy W. Thanks for reading my hub and for sharing it. The research show that the harmonica does help. I guess anything that slows down breathing and releases tension is good for anyone. So many people on this site write good recipes and try to help others. Good luck with your writing. Blessings, Audrey

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 

      4 years ago from Earth

      I'm all about breathing exercises, and betterment of one's life. Loved the article!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have never heard this but it makes perfect sense. Going to share this information all across the board. Thanks!

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Moonlake - Thanks for reading my hub. It is worth it to try this method to see if it helps your husband. Proper breathing is so important to relax and help improve capacity. I hope he finds it helps improve his health. Good luck to both of you. My husband has a checkup soon about his problem. Let us hope for good health to all. It is so nice to hear from you again. Blessings, Audrey

    • moonlake profile image


      4 years ago from America

      My husband has COPD I will have to pass this along to him. Information I have never heard about thanks for sharing. Voted up. Sharing

    • RTalloni profile image


      4 years ago from the short journey

      Well, if anything tells us that the right kind of exercise is very beneficial, this does! Interesting, and hugely important for sufferers of COPD and related disorders. Pinning to Solve It: Health… board.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Pamela. Thank you for the read and for the referral to your brother -in-law. It sure means a lot to me that you received so much pleasure from the info in my hub. I hope you are doing well and enjoying Florida weather. Wish your brother well with COPD. Blessings. Audrey

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an excellent hub as you explained the benefits of the harmonica so well. My brother-in-law has COPD and I am going to send him this link. There are so many benefits that never occurred to me. Rated way up and shared!

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Barbara Kay. The harmonica can do wonders for breathing. If you practice it can improve or slow it down. It can control it and help panic. It's fun to play with and make up chords. Thanks for reading my hub, and may you buy one if you like music and good breathing. I will stop by your hubs again. Blessings. Audrey

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      5 years ago from USA

      I had never heard this before. Since I know someone that has panic attacks I'll need to suggest this. I think I'll get one for myself. My husband had one years ago, but I think it is long gone.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Bill It is great to see you on this football website. Thank you so much for the kind comments. You almost got close to fame by teaching a famous football player's wife. That might never happen to anyone in a million years. This is an exciting year for the NFL; many changes, good and bad teams. The excitement for me are the great players. I also like the little guys. I love to visit your hubs, as they always leave me with a smile and a little more knowledge than when I came. Thanks for passing the info to your friends with COPD. Some people with asthma plan to try the harmonica. Blessings Audrey

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      How very interesting. Not really surprising but very interesting. I have several friends with COPD and I will pass this along. Thank you for some great information.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Randy. Nice to hear from you and glad you enjoyed hub. I just wing it with harmonica. Wish you could teach me to play. I guess I could take lessons or watch Utube. It does help breathing. You may not notice it unless you have a problem. I love to read your hubs, so we will meet again there. Blessings. Audrey

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      5 years ago from Southern Georgia

      One of best friends plays blues harmonica great. No, he didn't have trouble breathing. He learned the art while doing a short stretch in the county jail. lol! I play a bit myself but nothing spectacular. It's very interesting the harmonica may help those who suffer with breathing problems. Enjoyed the hub!


    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Shyron - How great to try harmonica for asthma. Thanks for reading my hub and and sharing. It should help any breathing problem as it slows it down and allows deeper breathing. You are so clever. A French harp harmonica sounds interesting. I may buy a better one myself. Lol I have about five now, as I am a famous misplacer? of important things. I sometimes play it softly in the car while I am a passenger, of course - very softly, to allow my husband to concentrate on driving. You sound like a fun person. It is so nice to meet you. Blessings. Audrey

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Vellur - Thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. You also voted it up which I do appreciate. For those who have trouble breathing, it is a very simple procedure. I hope it gets more attention, as it has helped many patients, according to the information. Someone mentioned asthma, and it may be useful for that ailment. Good luck with your writing. It is nice to meet you. I don't believe our paths have crossed in the past. Blessings. Audrey.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi MG Singh - Sure do appreciate your reading my hub and commenting. It is amazing that a little harmonica can help someone who is struggling to breathe. Sometimes, the simple solutions work the best and cost less money compared to something like months of respiration rehab. Of course, some patients require many solutions to their breathing problems. It is so nice to meet you, as I don't think our paths have crossed. Good luck with your writing. Blessings Audrey

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Nell Thank you for reading my hub and sharing it. The news does need to be spread about the harmonica's ability to help improve breathing. Any type of breathing exercises will help, as you said with singing. The story of the man with a second lung transplant was amazed at the help. The music relaxes you and you have fun. That makes a difference to these people with COPD and anxiety. I love to read your hubs and know you are a good writer and have good subjects. Keep up the good work. Blessings. Audrey Thanks again.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      brakel2, I had a French harp (harmonica) when I was a kid. I am going to buy myself a new one, maybe it will help my asthma.

      Voted up A/B/I, and shared.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      I never knew that harmonica could cure COPD. Thanks for the information. Voted up useful and interesting.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Pamela - Thank you for reading my hub. Not many people seem to be aware of the helpful harmonica. It has not been widely publicized. if my article can help one person breathe better, it is worthwhile. One person is about to buy the instrument. Maybe you could bring it up in your medical writing at some time. Thank you for finding my hub. I love to read your writing. Your articles are always so interesting and helpful. I hope you are doing well. Keep in touch. Blessisngs. Audrey

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Nice suggestion for breathing problems. Voted up

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      This is a great solution to all sorts of breathing problems whether physical or mental stress, I remember reading about singing doing a similar thing, great hub! and voted up and shared, nell

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is such an interesting hub. I was not aware of how the harmonica worked to help people who experience panic attacks with their breathing. It is amazing how some of the most unexpected things can help someone with a serious medical problem. Voted up! God Bless.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi quildon Thank you so much for reading my hub and for your nice comments. I am slowly learning this method does not have much publicity. It is so helpful to patients who have breathing difficulties. Someone who read this article is going to try it for her COPD. If this article helps just one person, it is worth it. It is nice to hear of a method that does not require medication but your own personal effort, as you indicated. It is so nice to meet you, and stop by again. Blessings Audrey

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      5 years ago from Florida

      This is a very interesting hub. I'd never heard of this before. It just goes to show that there are so many simple remedies for common ailments without the use of drugs. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks Writer Fox for your read and comments about my article. It amazes me that people don't know about this technique, when one hospital says it is used everywhere. I did not believe it, and it is not publicized. It works, so more people need to know. It makes you stay in the moment when you play the harmonica. You are right that simple techniques can sometimes help. The music makes it relaxing even if you are just winging it. I enjoy seeing you in the forums helping others, and find your hubs enlightening and easy to read. Take care. I am still plodding along learning more about SEO. Audrey

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      5 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      What an interesting idea. It's amazing how simple techniques can help with serious medical problems. I know that music is used for therapy to help patients afflicted with many diseases, but this is a new one. Voted up and interesting!

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi drbj. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you already heard about this method, as many have not. I tried to explain it for others to understand easily. You laugh and have the funny puns, so you must breathe better than others. You sure do make me laugh. Keep it up. Blessings. Audrey

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      I have heard of playing the harmonica as a method to alleviate COPD or panic/anxiety attacks before. Thank you for explaining the methodology in a very easy to understand way.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi thanks FlourishAnyway for reading and commenting on hub. I think this breathing method is not publicized enough. You are right that it is inexpensive and not difficult. It is so much fun. Thanks for enjoying the personal testimony and share. I do enjoy your hubs and am glad you stopped by. You are the first to read hub just published. Blessings. Audrey

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I like this because it offers a creative, inexpensive and effective solution, and it offers a personal testimonial. I haven't heard of this as a solution but certainly can see how it could help. Nice job! Sharing, Voted up +++.


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