Reading Music
Reading Music

Harmonicas for Health: A Guide to Breathing Better

Live Classes are now ONLINE. They are still FREE.
Starting April 5, 2021. Classes are led by respiratory therapist Larry Vesely, RRT, on Zoom. Beginners' classes are the first Monday of each month, and Intermediate classes are the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month. Keep reading for details and how to register.

Online class: Learn How to Improve Your Breathing While Playing the Harmonica


During the first session, initial focus will be on teaching people different exercises with the harmonica to improve their breathing.  We will move into playing simple songs by the end of the session. Classes are to be held via Zoom.


The classes are taught by Larry Vesely RRT, who has 24 years of experience as the Lead Respiratory Therapist at a hospital-based Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program and 13 years of experience teaching harmonica to respiratory impaired patients (COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung transplant, as well as other health issues including cardiovascular issues, tobacco cessation, etc.).  He has presented this harmonica program to Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and at Respiratory Care conferences nationally. Larry also plays harmonica and piano professionally.



Beginning harmonica classes, which will also focus on the health benefits, are held on the first Monday of the month.  Muting while you play is totally acceptable.


Intermediate classes are to be held on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.


Classes start promptly at 7 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), and will run for approximately an hour. 


You will need a diatonic 10-hole harmonica in the key of C.  Any quality is acceptable for a beginner. 


Contact Larry Vesely to receive Zoom meeting information:

For more information on playing harmonica to improve your health, go to:

This program is based on a book written by Mary Jane Gormley and Larry Vesely, Harmonicas for Health: A Guide to Breathing Better (2009), which can be downloaded from the above website.  Portions of the book will be used in the classes.

Harmonicas for Health history

The Harmonicas for Health program at IU Health Bloomington Hospital was started in 2006 by a COPD patient (Mary Jane Gormley) and a serious harmonica-playing respiratory therapist (Larry Vesely, RRT). 

The program’s new book was welcomed at the health seminar of the international conference of the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH) in Sacramento in August 2009, and it was enthusiastically announced in the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of the Pulmonary Paper (p. 6). An overview was presented at the Great Lakes Regional Conference of the American Music Therapists’ Association in Indianapolis in March 2010. 

Vesely led a special session Harmonicas for Health for the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) in Charleston in 2017. See the slides, videos and additional materials from this presentation.

The program continues to meet monthly at the hospital and other places around Bloomington, Indiana. It has been presented to Bloomington programs for stroke rehabilitation, Parkinson's and smoking cessation, and to several hundred respiratory therapists from Indiana and other states.

Watch the Videos

Get the book

You can do the exercises on your own, with friends, with your respiratory therapy or support group, or start a new group and learn the program together!
Sample page (15) from Harmonicas for Health by Mary Jane Gormley and Larry Vesely RRT

Download PDF (complete book)

The 2nd edition Harmonicas for Health book by Mary Jane Gormley and Larry Vesely RRT is provided here as a PDF for download so that anyone can follow the program.

Download book order form

Order printed books

The printed 2nd edition book can still be purchased for $10 from IU Health Bloomington Hospital individually or in bulk (for groups and classes). Download the order form here and mail with a check to the address shown.