Father of six trying to learn something to teach the kids.

I’ve always wanted to play an instrument. I bought an expensive yamaha electric keyboard once when I was younger. I still have it, the kids beat on it, I can’t play it.

Bough a First Act Harmonica with instruction booklet a while back for one of my kids as a birthday present and when their birthday came around I forgot I had stashed it away. Well, its been sitting around being neglected for a long time now and I thought I’d give it a go. I can’t read music, I have very little free time, and I am not very hopeful of my ability to become good at it…but I DO however tend to enjoy new hobbies I can obsess over for a bit. I don’t really have money in my budget for any of your packages or I’d definitely consider one. I’ll just have to make due with what I have already…

I’m sure this little silver First Act harmonica is probably pretty junky but it make sounds when I put air through it. I’ve ordered a book off of Glyde for very little money. Three Minutes to Blues, Rock, and Folk Harmonica thats supposed to come with a more grown up sized crappy harmonica. The book got good reviews on amazon, we’ll see if it does anything for me. If I can get halfway decent at playing, the kids might pick up some interest and then I’ll be back on track for birthday present harmonicas.

Hey Good luck nonstick, If you can just set aside a little time every day
you will improve. If you haven’t already check out JP Allen’s free youtube lessons,
that will help you a lot. Here’s a link.


let us know how your doing.


I am pleased to meet you! I have 6 brothers and sisters! Big families are awesome, especially when music is involved!

Keep it up! The harmonica is a great instrument!

Peace Out!


The most difficult part will no doubt be trying to take it seriously with my whole family making fun of me. ::slight_smile:

Welcome! We here at the forum are willing to help with any snags you come across! Keep the harp in your pocket you’ll be amazed at the practice you can get in while waiting… in traffic jams, bank teller lines, etc. Yes it is a cheep harp but it should do fine till you are ready to learn to bend then you will want to move up.
Keep up up to date on your progress!

Howdy Big Daddy Ron!

As the stories go, my own dad picked up harmonica during his travels on the boats – He was a merchant marine during Korea and quit just as then Vietnam was getting underway.

He taught himself to play. And it was just for enjoyment and entertaining the family during get-togethers. He was from a family of 12! Not to mention all the sisters and brothers-in-laws, their relatives, plus nieces, nephews, and his own that came along the way – Yeah, pretty decent lot them. Enough to fill a small country…Or as they used to say: A good size tavern on a Saturday night! Hehehehe!!

Thing is, as I recall, he always played tunes and melodies that everybody knew. JP Allen calls them Campfire Ready songs on his vid lessons; yet my dad knew a lot of them, and led everyone in sing-a-longs just having fun.

Point is, you don’t have to be fancy-shmancy or anything like that. Meaning, don’t concern yourself with learning techniques such as bending notes, overblows and all that stuff.

If you can just do easy things like playing chugs, chords and/or single-note tunes, and you do them well enough, nobody’s going to care one lick or the other if you do anything else. All that comes with Time anyway. And if it’s not available or it doesn’t grab you – No problem. The harmonica is just that kind of instrument.

Now it seems to me the book you ordered was by David Harp. He’s a great teacher. And too, he also has his own line of inexpensive harmonicas. They’re called Mojos.

I know because I purchased a whole set of them myself. Sure, they may not be the greatest harps; but they are better than them Hohner cheapos. And they come in nice little boxes too!

So for probably less than the price of taking everyone out for a dinner and a movie – You can actually get one good Mojo in C each for the whole lot of ya! Cool beans!

And while we’ll most likely never have another time whereby a von Trapp-like family has to escape the invading Nazis by singing their way through to freedom in the Sound of Music –

Still, whose to say somewhere down the road a movie isn’t made about the NonstickRon family?! Julie Andrews will probably be there too, no doubt. And I can just hear her now with: “The hills are alive…With the Sound of Harmonicas!”


Have fun!


Welcome to the forum!

Keep On Harpin’!

My grandfather had 8 kids and my grandmother had 8 kids when they got married, lots of big family craziness when I was a kid. When my grandparents died though, it was like the glue came off of our family and we all spread out across the US and don’t really see each other much anymore. Thank goodness for Facebook, say what you want about it but I think its a wonderful thing.

We’re a “yours, mine, ours” family. My lady had 2 daughters, I had one and we got together and wanted to have “one more” which turned out to be twins and then a birth control baby. She got the tubes done up after that last one, whew. My Lady’s older girls are pretty jaded, not sure I’ll get much interest from them after the novelty of me making horrible non-music wears off. If I can eventually figure out how to make the harmonica sound good playing along with pop music like Selena Gomez or Miley Cyrus, I might actually get them. Hehe. I’m most likely going to end up just doing it for myself. Our girls aren’t really going to be interested in campfire ready songs. Maybe my oldest, she’s blind and quite a singer even at 8, so she might take more interest than the others even if its just to have me accompany her singing. I’m hoping so.

I’m into an eclectic variety of music, I’m often told I “listen to some weird stuff”. Among the genres the harmonica seems to be good at, I like jazz/soul music, blues is ok, not to keen on folky or country type stuff. Medeski, Martin, & Wood are downright amazing and I’d like to eventually be able to put some of their music on and jam with it. I have been watching a lot of stuff on YouTube and I think I really actually prefer the very slow haunting stuff to the high tempo jams/chugs, although it seems that ends up sounding a little too country music for my tastes most of the time. I really like the haunting crooning the harmonica is capable of, I don’t see very much of that being done in what I can find on YouTube. I like to just blow long notes on it though and listen to the sound, I’ve no skill at putting a melody or a pattern together. Whatever, maybe I’m gravitating to that because it’s all I can really see myself being able to do.

There’s one guy I found on Youtube, Ronnie Shellist, who apparently also does instruction. I really like his style, one of the few guys I’ve seen who makes playing the harmonica LOOK cool, but he doesn’t seem like a very good treacher. At least not for beginners, his videos seem like they’re for someone who already know how to play a bit. I was glad I found him though cause I was able to prove to My Lady that not everybody who plays the harmonica looks like they’re choking on a corncob. ;D

Well if you’re into the ‘eclectic jazz’ stuff…

For diatonic, I’d have to offer Howard Levy.

I do belong to his online school; more than a year now, and I’ve visited there about 6 times. I don’t know why, so don’t ask! Hehehe!!

As far as his teaching goes, well, he’s Howard Levy, so maybe that’s why…Other than that though…

However, for other eclectic jazz and haunting melodies, you’re probably getting more into chromatics and the stylings of Toots Thielemans and Larry Adler territories. And that’s a whole lot of other discussions there!

For teenage and older girls, they’d probably relate to the likes of Jason Ricci over any harpsmith named Sonny there.

The younger girl who sings and has music ability should have no problem learning harmonica in various styles and/or whatever interests her.

Good luck!

Keep On Harpin’! 8)

Hey wow, that’s some great stuff, thanks!

After googling chromatic harmonicas, I think I’d prefer the greater versatility of diatonics.

Hi Ron (I guess I can call you Ron)

Don’t worry about the family making fun of you, I am sure with six kids you already have broad shoulders and just think how it will be when you can show them when you are up and running and playing the house down. Best of luck.


Welcome to the boards, Ron!
My family’s pretty big, too, and they all laughed when I took up the harp last December. Well, even though they still think it’s “a hillbilly instrument” (to quote a dear family member who shall remain anonymous), they don’t laugh so much anymore.
Also, if it means anything to you, I still just play on a couple of BluesBands, and even 'though I’ve been bending notes since around January, they’re working just fine for me; and I suspect they will continue to 'til I finally just go out and by a Marine Band.

Whoops. Choked on a corncob… :smiley:

Howdy & Welcome Again, FP!

Great story! Your visits are more than enjoyable…Thanks for the privilege! Hehehe!

However, while you have some blues harps to begin with…Please don’t go sideways…

Meaning, in order to learn and get better, you really need to UPGRADE!

And if you’re considering the MB 1896s, it/they isn’t/aren’t them!

Hope to hear you’re going Spec20s or better!

And you’ll be glad you did too!


Keep On Harpin’!

How’re MBs sideways versus and upgrade, SPD? I saw what JP posted, and they were ranked as pretty decent instruments (7 on a scale of 10 for bending). So, whaddaya have against 'em? Is this personal preference or are Spec. 20s really that much better (and if so, why)?

Well…seriously and no bullshit aside…

We’ve been all up and down the Hohners and their liberal usage of the word/name “Blues” on their harps. Here’s just one thread on the subject:


In my reading of your post, you’re going from the “BluesBand” cheapo model into the MB 1800s style, another cheapo model.

Yes, although you won’t see 1800s on the box, you will see them engraved on the harps e.g. 1871, 1881 etc. etc. Although priced similar to Spec20s, these old style cheapo harps soon become a beginner’s nightmare.

Same thing with the Hohner Blues Harps which look and are priced very similar.

Again - the words “Hohner” and “Blues” and “Harp” are nothing more than a marketing scheme to confuse and confound those who don’t know anything about the instrument itself.

It’s the dark side of and life as it is in the wide & vast Harmonica Universe!

Also, amongst other things, as other professional players do: JP Allen has an endorsement contract as one of their pitchmen with the manufacturer themselves. Hey, it’s a living! And it’s all good too! Anywhat…

If you’re investing in the Hohner Blues MS series harps, that’s great. And I sit corrected.

However, if you’re simply going from BluesBand made in China harps to MB 1800s or similar, albeit made in Germany – Then yes, you’re going sideways and not upgrading above the Spec20s. And I stand by my previous views.

Hope this helps!


“Have (Blues) Harp, Will Travel!”

Hey Spud, don’t be kicking my Marine Band harp around like that.
Of course if you’re upgrading, I would listen and buy spec 20’s.
And excuse my manners…welcome Mr. Nonskid.LOL. You’re going to love it here.
Check out all the free lessons, and do the few minutes each day as JP suggests.
You will surprise yourself and your family.
BTW, mind if I call you by your first name, “Teflon?”
Just joking! I’m really glad you joined us. We have some great friends here and have a lot of fun.

First off, yes I have been known to go by Tefron (with an r) from time to time. Rolls off the tongue easier than Nonstickron.

Now, on to this harp chat that has taken over this thread! I get that the Spec20 gets some fanboy treatment here, and that’s fine. I’m that way with some things too, like apple electronics/computers. And it kinda makes sense now that I know JP has an endorsement on top of that. SPD, you’ve made several references to the Hohner brand manufacturing processes. I’m not really familiar with the Hohner brand. Is it where more than one company manufactures stuff and slaps their name on it?

And if so, are the ones from germany also from different manufacturers? If not, I don’t see how the two harps could be all that different, I’ve actually been wondering that for some time now, and not just about Hohners. There’s so many different types of harmonica, within each brand. I can see how some might be tuned differently but I understand how they could really differ all that much outside of that. Suzuki for instance, I am guessing are all really made by suzuki…I can see how the Manji might sound drastically different due to its high tech comb material, but exceptions like that aside I don’t see how two harmonicas manufactured from the exact same materials, by the same company, at the same factory even, can really be all that different.

I’d love some light shed on that, just to satisfy my curiosity.

The cheaper, low grade harps are mass produced in Japan/China (not sure which). They come straight of the production line to the package according to the TV show HOW ITS MADE.
The Marine Band 1800 series, some Pros love them like Adam Gussow, SPD and many others, including myself, don’t like them because they are put together with nails instead of screws. The nails bend and the nail holes get larger and nails become loose over time as you take it apart for maintenance and cleaning. Also the reed plates protrude a little past the comb that tend to cut the lips on some people. Also the wood comb tends to loose its sealant over time and the comb teeth will swell and protrude past the plates from moisture from the mouth and act like a grater on the lips and tongue.
The Special 20 has a plastic comb that does not swell, the reed plate’s edge is covered with the plastic comb making it easy on the lips. It is assembled with nuts and bolts and screws through the comb into the threaded bottom plate making an air tight seal. It is made in Germany by Craftsmen with pride in their work and still at an affordable price.
One thing that impressed me was, even tho JP is a spokes person for Hohner he doesn’t push the high priced harps, he steers us to a good quality harp that is still affordable.

No doubt. I drank the kool-aid and I’m happy with my Spec20. (DAMN YOU 2-DRAW!! lol) ;D

Still, I’m asking for a Manji for christmas. hehe

Thanks for the info, i didn’t realize there were nails involved. I hate nails, they should be uninvented.

Yep, sorry SPD, but I think the MBs I’ve been looking at are the 1800s. You know, like all the people 40+ years ago used to play (when “pop” music–if you can call it that–was good :)). Just whatever plain, old instruments all of them played.

So, I guess I’m with BB on this one; I like those “cheapo” harps. Or, at least, I think I do… :smiley:
Will update when I know for sure…

I’d like to get back to your original post. You were talking about books to learn from. I would advice you to steer away from this way of learning in the start. Spend a lot of time just playing with your harp. Explore it, do whatever without regards for the consequences of your playing. Learn the basics. After doing this for a while you will most likely get a feeling that makes you think: “Hm, what should I do know? What can I learn next? I don’t seem to be able to progress any further!”

This means that you have synchronized your musical understanding with your harp playing skills. We all have musical understanding prior to picking up an instrument, we are just not very aware of it. This is a feeling that will come and go for a long time (I suspect it comes and goes throughout our musical lives).

What you must do now is to widen your musical understanding from sources outside of yourself. My recommendation is to drop by the chatroom over at Harmonicaclub.com and ask somebody there for guidance, or go watch some harp videos on youtube or simply put on a CD with someone playing harmonica and try to learn from listening. When you’ve watched, heard, talked with people and expanded your musical understanding you can go back to fiddling until that feeling comes back, then you repeat over and over :wink:

I think your ambitions of teaching your children is great! I wish my parents would have done the same for me when I was younger!


When you feel like you are standing on steady feet harp wise. When you’re past the beginner stage, you can pick up some books and learn from them. Because you now have enough knowledge and understanding of music to be able to read something and connect it to what you do on the harp. Remember that there is only one way to learn music and that is by listening and trying. No book can teach you what you can learn from patient listening. My experience is that books only misguide and confuse is the start. Because you don’t really understand what they’re trying to tell you, even though there’s a lot of people out there that makes excellent attempts at explaining what they do and how you can do it.