Hooks, riffs, licks, songs, and the importance of building repertoire

The biggest missing factor in most beginner and intermediate players is the lack of material they are able to perform when called upon to do so. Saying that they like to “jam” is often a red flag. Not having any songs they can actually perform is a major issue. The person is really saying that “I’m too lazy to work out actual material and lack the responsibility to lead a band and deliver the goods.” The more songs a harmonica player can pull off, the more they can consider themselves a true entertainer. Songs like Happy Birthday, Christmas songs, Americana, and folk songs are all very good to be acquainted with as a player. The more songs you have, the longer you can entertain. There’s incredible satisfaction in connecting with other people through music. Learning as many songs, riffs, licks, and study pieces as possible helps create mastery over the instrument. I’m A Man, Mannish Boy, Boogaloo, Hambone, Boogie, Box Shuffle, Tramp and Cha Cha Cha all have recognizable riffs to be acquainted with that are not that difficult. You never know when you might be called upon to sit in with a band and need to play one of these well known blues riffs or grooves. You don’t even need to know the actual single note melody, but it is very important to be able to describe a groove and play it with some solid rhythmic chordal accompaniment.