2 steps forward, one step back

Hi fellow Harmoniacs :rofl:

I hope I wont bore anyone but I wanted to share a small update on my 2 month journey to learn the blues harp.
The joy of drawing and blowing the first chords to the devastation of single note embouchure was a precursor of the path every harp player goes through.

There was so many ups (“yeah!!! bending” :crazy_face: ) and downs (“fricking single note embouchure” :joy: ) in this short time, that I really had to learn to calm down and enjoy the ride.
Every tribulation was closely intertwined with a moment of pure surprise when a technique finally clicked and more importantly, vice verse.

There is times where I feel like I forgot a certain technique just because a day passed, and there´s days where a technique finally is memorized in my body and it clicks and works.

Lukes Beginner to Boss course is great and I´m constantly going back to some of the lessons to practice my rudimentary “techniques”,.
This gives me the chance to reflect where I´ve started (sure enough 2 months isn’t very long though :joy: ) and stop to be too hard on myself.
In my opinion, I often want to rush to certain goals with the harp but it surely shows me that its a path to walk and not to run.
I´m happy with my results so far but I know its a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll (maybe some get the song hint :blush:)

Currently I had a “small” shopping spree with new harps, amp, mic (Arkia, Big Six, Harp Blaster, Spark) and it really payed off
The airtight harps makes my life easier to learn a comfy embouchure and combined with an amp/mic its just soooo much fun to practice certain songs from the course.

Besides practicing certain parts of the BtB course I´ve started with Adam Gussows unconventional conventional paid lessons that are pretty hard to master but very fulfilling when I get the hang of a song and technique behind it.

Again I have to excuse my long post and I hope it doesn’t sound like I´m singing my own praises.
As I walk the path of the blue harp alone and most people around me have no clue how to react when I share my harp feelings, I had to consider writing to fellow blue harp players.

Maybe it will even help some beginners (like me) to reflect and don´t feel discouraged when a certain thing is hard to do (like that 2 draw that sounds like a deflating balloon in the beginning)

Stay on the bus, take the ride and keep on trucking as Luke likes to say in the course :smiley:

many greets from Vienna

PAScal

P.S.: to the admin, please move or remove the topic of its unappropriated or in the wrong spot

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It’s all good buddy. I’m about 2 months in myself and yes, there’s the good days and bad days. In many ways for me it’s a bit like being 15 again trying to learn guitar (especially the knowing i should be working at exercises vs i just want to play this cool thing 500 times).

My frustrations are mostly with myself when I know can do it but it doesn’t seem to happen, single note isolation in particular hitting a 5 draw alongside a 4 or 6 draw i was supposed to be playing. It’s just practice and concentration but it’s a slap in the ear when I do it. It’s got better but it’s still the mistake i get most mad at myself with.

Did you like the Big Six btw? It’s got that “oh that’s a cool little thing” appeal but on the other hand it’s not like a 10 hole harp is so big I need a small one to carry round.

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Hi @Piglet

its great to hear that you got similar experiences in the same time frame as me.
I can relate to exercises versus cool things to play but with the harp I try to have a practice plan.
As a warm up I do breathing exercises with metronome (quarter notes draw/blow; triplets draw/blow from Rhythms of the Breath book) followed by simple songs (to memorize), some new challenging song and at the end some throwback lessons of BtB course.
Usually I try to practice only one hour but its constantly a minimum of 2 :joy:

I totally understand the frustrating part of some draws but practicing the draw/blow rhythms of the breath exercises really helps me in my daily endeavor.
Please don’t be too hard to yourself (easier said than done), every practice session is a move in the right direction in my opinion.

The big six are something else, they look “cute” and inconspicuous but don´t be fooled, they pack a punch and sound very good to me.
I decided to buy them not just because of their size to carry them around (as you very well said, a 10 hole isn´t big either) but a combination of size, different keys and curiosity to try Seidel harps.
I´m very impressed with them but I´m just a 2 month beginner :joy:

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I had a day like that today. Sometimes putting the harp down for a day or two helps me when my confidence drops because of the percentage of you laying is nothing but mistakes and noise. The way i look at it is a professional baseball pitcher may toss a no hitter. His next start he gets shelled and is taken out in the third inning.

Scott

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Hi @scott4 ,

that’s a good analogy.
Yesterday I had the same situation but went through it with the least exercises (breathing, positions, scale) and then just stopped, it doesnt make any sense to cramp up and try to play with a tense mouth/lip/body…
I feel like sometimes we have to go through a tough practice day to enjoy the next time with a harp even more.
I cant wait to play after the office hours :smiley:

greets

PAScal

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I have been playing about the same amount of time as you assuming this post is current (2 months). I am slowing getting through the bending module while I seemed to breeze through the previous ones. I don’t find bending that hard but switching from regular to bend and back while going from blow to suck with any sort of speed is hard. I keep working Mod 4 lesson 6 and it is getting better every day.

What I do is try to identify a song I can really jam. Then I run the lesson 3-4 times. I stop the lesson, and then go play a song that I know and like to remind myself that I really can play songs and have some fun. I cannot believe how much easier it is to add scattered to bends to songs I know compared to trying that tough blues riff and trying to make it sound good. That’s my strategy to try and keep it fun.

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Hi @nmilender

I can relate to the bend unbend playing and did/do have the same feeling often but with practice it changes.
In my case it helps to learn songs that uses scoops (from bend to unbend in the same note), I get more of the feeling inside the mouth/throat and more control over it than just practicing monotone bending over metronome.

The songs you like is a great practice and at least for me, gives me more confidence that I can learn and even feel certain songs.
I love to practice the blues scale over backing tracks as its more melodic and it gives me the opportunity to hear if I hit the bends right.
Learning triplets is very rewarding as well for the scale but certainly I´m still not where I want to be with it

Thank you for sharing that you’re in the same situation and your strategy to overcome it :grinning:

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2 months, you’ve come a long way. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Start a session, with just you and the noisemaker, blow in it, all ten, draw, all ten, work up and down, listen for clear single notes. Can you curl your tongue? this can help pull or push air in the right direction. Also try throat air control, diaphragm control, cheeks to make it warble, move the harp around lip it like you love a woman, kiss it gently like a baby. See the reeds in your mind’s eye, feel the vibration, feel that reed, isolate that reed.

When drawing or pushing, don’t be in a hurry, gentle, like a soft breeze, work the reed, coax it, little by little increase pressure, remember to use your nose as a safety valve and so you can breathe in or out.

The other stuff you said, it seems you got it. Now if what I said seems silly, I remember my guitar teacher. He said hold it and caress it like a woman you adore, don’t paw it and hold onto it for dear life and strangle it, the analogy isn’t exact size wise, but if your sucking it like you’re in a panic on a jet plane and need oxygen… don’t.

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Hi @GreenStamps ,

thank you for your kind reply and your great analogies.
I loved the jet plane one the most as as I tend to do that when I bend.
Nowadays I try to get the bends smoother without that intense sucking feeling I did in the beginning to initiate the bends (reminding myself to breath normal but change the tongue position)
My recommendation, besides the BtB course lessons, are Adam Gussow bending and scooping lessons.
They are tough but really make a difference, technique and feeling wise.

For me its a small edge between the fun, working on songs to master and the technique practice (wood shedding)
I tend to tense up on the latter and this is counterproductive but the urge to nail certain aspects is way too high :joy:

Anyway its such a great instrument and I´m hooked to walk the path of the blues harp

many greets from VIEnna

PAScal

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I actually like to play all the scales as well. This is on of the reasons I wanted a way to put the tabs in my phone so I have a scale page with labels and could start memorizing them. I want to try to develop a sense of the keys. This was something I never understood well. Like knowing the wavelength of a color as a definition but not being able to experience the sight of it. I will say though, that if you play that blues scale with bends and just try to give it some attitude and alter the time it seems to automatically make a song and is strangely fun.

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Hi @nmilender

What I did is screenshot all the scale tabs from the BtB course on my phone and transfer them into a new picture folder to have access on the go.
I agree, especially the blue scale with bends is a great foundation, altering time and accents on different notes is fun and feels like an improv session without memorized licks.
Talking about licks; I´ve started to watch and practice the “checkerboard blues system” from the SPAH event on youtube, maybe you or others are interested as well.

many greets

PAScal

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Someone else mentioned that as well. I get distracted on so many other things like his free email lessons and being new there is plenty to work on. I have tabled that for later, I hope remember it when I am looking for something.

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Hello @nmilender,
When I started learning the harp, I felt the same way you did. There were too many options and information about learning the harp rushing at me. That meant stress, which is not a good guide. Since I often write down tabs first, I started to create a kind of do-do list at the beginning of the A4 notebook. Here I can decide between important and less important. This helps me a lot because there are important things to learn about the harp. Other things are optional, so to speak, and I decide for myself if and when I learn it without missing anything. Regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

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I mostly just do what I think is fun today. Sometimes I get stubborn and really want to hammer a technique. Makes progress a bit slower, but who cares it’s not like I do it for a living.

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