National Harmonica League

HarmonicaUK The National Harmonica League
The NHL is Britain's national harmonica association, with members world wide, supporting and encouraging the playing of all types of music on the chromatic, diatonic, tremolo, octave and chord harmonicas. Paul Jones is our President.



The National Harmonica League

The NHL is Britain's only national harmonica association, and it is proud to have Paul Jones as its President, and Norm Dobson as its Vice President for the USA and Canada. Brendan Power, Lee Oskar and Adam Glasser are Patrons. It is a Registered Charity (England & Wales) No 1131484.

Most of its members live in Britain, but there are many members in the USA, and smaller numbers in around 20 countries. We welcome every kind of harmonica enthusiast. The majority are players, ranging in attainment from complete beginners to extremely accomplished professionals. Others are collectors, or listeners who go to concerts and enjoy hearing recordings. Some are even parents or partners of harmonica players. That's real enthusiasm. Some are introducing the harmonica to school children.

Anyone can join. The benefits of membership include

  • Harmonica World, a magazine about the world of the harmonica (six issues per year)
  • Super festivals, workshops, competitions and other events
  • Access to fellow enthusiasts, teachers, professional players etc
  • Information about harmonica players, tutor books, CDs, harmonica music
  • Free line adverts in the magazine for a member, worth 9 UK pounds a year
  • Discounts on festival and workshop entry fees
  • Discounts from the major UK harmonica shops - details in magazine
The annual subscription for UK members is only £20 UK pounds. You can save much of this with the discounts you can get once you are a member.

Join up now, or visit pages that interest you and discover more reasons for joining. Full details of membership and a form for joining the NHL are available on the membership page.

More details on the NHL's history and activities are included lower down on this page.

The NHL's mission statement, strategy,rules, and officers can be viewed online.

NHL activities and member benefits

The NHL caters for its membership in several ways. More than half the members are rarely able to attend events, and for them the magazine, Harmonica World, is their main contact. Six copies are produced each year and distributed on the first day of February, April, June, August, October and December.

The NHL has a Facebook group and a mailing list NHLNet where members can ask questions and share information.

As a national association, the NHL organises events of various types. Members come from the length and breadth of Britain to enjoy a Festival (including a contest), Social meetings (including workshops, opportunities for the members to get up and play, and an evening concert), and tuition days like the Blue Saturdays, which give the blues harpist a chance to brush up his technique and jam with a band, and the Chromatic Weekend.

These last two events are an attempt to extend the NHL's offerings to its members who want a more intensive learning experience than a festival permits. If they prove popular we will continue their development. Through the concentration on one discipline or type of harmonica we hope to help standards to rise and also to locate and develop more people capable of becoming the teachers of the future.

We would like to do things for the equally important folk harmonica player. Give us your ideas, and/or offer to help us get things going to support YOUR special interest.

The NHL also encourages the growth of regional groups, and provides a membership list (except for people who ask to be excluded). This enables people to find each other in an area and share their interests.

History of the National Harmonica League

In 1935 the Hohner Company set up the Hohner Harmonica Song Band League. It restarted after WW2 in 1951 and changed its name to the National Harmonica League. The present organisation descendes from a reincarnation which took place in 1977 when Hohner asked an Essex Headmaster, John Tyler, to help them run the harmonica activities and magazine. Initially it was free, but by 1981 there was an annual subscription charge, when Hohner passed the organisation over to John Walton.

At this stage it became totally independent of Hohner. John and his wife Jeanette ran it for 6 years before passing it on to Colin Mort. John and Jeanette had done everything, and after 6 years of hard labour, and a lot of fun, and friends made on the way, and they were tired of carrying the burden. John became President of the International Harmonica Organisation, and was very active on the international scene up to his death in 2002.

Colin Mort ran the NHL until he retired at the end of 2000 and he was responsible for its survival. Roger Trobridge took over the Chairmanship from Colin and he supervised the modernisation that has resulted in the very current successful and growing organisation. Roger stood down in 2012 when Ben Hewlett took over the NHL with an able and active committee. There is plenty to do, and volunteers to help will be welcome - very welcome!