Harmonica for Lung Health at popular Harpin’ by the Sea festival

Asthma + Lung UK hosts a special Harmonica for Lung Health session at Brighton and Hove's annual harmonica festival

Visitors to Brighton and Hove’s popular Harpin’ by the Sea harmonica festival this February are invited to join a special Harmonica for Lung Health session with leading lung health charity Asthma + Lung UK – a novel way for people with a lung condition to strengthen their breath, while also learning a new skill and having fun.

The Harmonica for Lung Health workshop for people living with lung conditions is taking place on Friday 2 February from 1.00-2.00pm at the Brunswick music venue in Hove and is free to attend – just turn up on the day to join in, or for those who can’t make it in person there is the option to join online.

Participants will not only get to have a go at playing the blues (or maybe some country or folk music) on the harmonica, but will also learn how playing the instrument can have health benefits for people with lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Friday 2 February is the festival’s second Harmonicas for Health Day, featuring a range of sessions that showcase the health benefits of harmonica playing, including Harmonica for Lung Health.

Led by Chris Startup, who regularly runs harmonica sessions for Asthma + Lung UK, the session will combine the joy of a live music session with learning new breathing techniques to help people manage their lung conditions. There will also be the option to join in the session online, for those unable to take part in person.

Chris has been running online lung health groups, including Harmonica for Lung Health, for more than six years. He said: “It’s a joy to be able to share my passion for music and playing the harmonica, and seeing the difference it can make to help people improve their lung health is so rewarding. I’d really encourage people with lung conditions to give it a go. No experience necessary, you just need to get hold of a C harmonica to join in – and what better place to get inspired than a whole festival dedicated to harmonica music?”

Vanessa Wylie has had asthma since childhood, and has been regularly playing the harmonica since attending an Asthma + Lung UK Harmonica for Lung Health course.

Vanessa said: “Playing the harmonica has had a huge impact on my asthma. I haven’t had any asthma symptoms this autumn, which is completely unheard of for me. Harmonica playing has played a large part in normalising my breathing pattern and exercising my lungs. In fact, I have been so well that, after consulting my GP, I have been able to step down my inhaled steroids – I’m super chuffed! And I’m really enjoying playing too. I’m delighted that I started playing harmonica!”

Debbie Bridger, Community Network Coordinator at Asthma + Lung UK, says: “The feedback our Harmonica for Lung Health groups is amazing, people see it as a whole support group. It’s fantastic that something as enjoyable as playing an instrument can also help people to manage 
their lung conditions. They find it improves their fitness and helps with their breathing and some are even able reduce their medication.”

One in five people in the UK will develop a lung condition and many struggle with breathlessness, which can make every day activities difficult or even impossible. Asthma + Lung UK’s Harmonica for Lung Health sessions offer support for people with lung conditions, where learning to play the harmonica as part of a welcoming group is combined with learning techniques and strengthening their breathing and coughing muscles, helping them to better manage their lung conditions.

Find out more about Asthma + Lung UK’s support groups for people living with lung conditions, including Harmonica for Lung Health.

Harpin’ By the Sea is an annual festival, which has been running since 2011. It brings together  the abundance of harmonic players in Brighton and Hove, as well as players from the across the world.

The festival takes place from 2–4 February 2024, at the Brunswick in Hove.