My main question is, should I be trying to play easy songs while I am working with JP's course or am I going ahead of myself by doing this?
Howdy Butch! <<<name of my friend who got me into trucking when I lived in Tucson, Arizona over 25 years ago; who sadly passed away earlier this year; R.I.P. Dude! anyway…>>>
As a proud owner of the JP Allen World’s Best Home Harmonica Course bundle set myself - You too should have been given links to download all of JP’s songbooks.
I have created a special folder to hold them all.
And yet while JP doesn’t specifically talk about these songs, as he’s intense and energetic about teaching techniques from breathing to tucka toodles and bending etc – I am a very strong proponent for learning these songs.
Learning as many of them as you can and more!
Because no matter how many other riffs, licks, chugs and improvs you can play – People won’t recognize anything you’re doing until you play them a song they know!
Cases in point:
- Taking a break from my bike riding, sitting on the steps outside a bar, smoking a cigarette and jamming away on my GM A – guy came out, listened for a few seconds and said: “Hey, man, you know Dixie?”
Telling him I hadn’t played it in awhile, I gave him my best rendition of it I could. Guy walked off listening to it after saying: “You’re freaking-a great dude! Keep it up!”
- Outside a rehab center waiting to go in for my treatments, giving my lungs a morning workout, just jamming away on my Piedmont Bb – nurse walking towards the entrance slowed down to listen; but when I started playing Blowing in The Wind for her, she really brightened up.
“Hey, isn’t that Bob Dylan?” Yes it was. “Wow! You’re good. You made my day.” Leaving to where she had to be, she smiled: “Keep going! I like your style!”
- Standing outside my favorite Chinese restaurant waiting for my order of eggroll and cab, I was jamming away on my GM C and Lee Oskar Am – One of the Chinese girls came out to wash the windows. When I played my version of Oh Susannah, she stopped, listened, smiled and said: “I know that song! It’s one I learned in school. You’re really good!”
I thanked her. But also, every time I visit the place and stand outside playing, there’s always an extra eggroll or two in my orders!
- Well I can go on and on…As these are everyday occurrences.
But points being if you can’t play Happy Birthday and For He/She’s a Jolly Good Fellow; what’s referred to as Campfire songs, Old Standards, or anything people will recognize and can/may compliment you on –
Well, my thought on it is: Until you actually do, peeps will/might think you’re just making noise, not music!
And if you think you have to play these songs perfectly and exactly every time, well, check it out –
At the downtown square, after taking my break, getting ready to head home, a wedding group emerged from one of the hotels. While they were all happy taking pictures and stuff on the sidewalk, I paused a few moments, pulled out my Big River C, worked out a little ditty I never tried before.
As they were standing around, I got on my bike and slowly worked my way through the crowd, making sure I got as close to the bride as possible, while playing “The Wedding March!”
I momentarily stopped and looking at the bride said: “Congratulations! I didn’t know what to get you, so I’m playing you this!” I riffed it again out as best I could; and the unsuspecting now grateful crowd broke into applause, as I went along my way.
Bottom line is: While you’re learning all the techniques on the JP Allen dvd lessons, at whatever pace you’re going, and you play them wherever and whenever –
Please don’t forget about the other half of the harmonica universe which is playing songs and melodies people recognize and know the moment they hear them!
Not just you, but everybody who hears you will be glad you did!
So on that fine note then:
Welcome aboard, Butch aka Marc!
Keep us posted!
Keep on harpin’!
OH PS: INRE: Suggestions For Your Sideways Pic –
Other than redoing it to keep me from laying down looking at you, um, no!