I started harmonica lessons 3 years into playing…and I love them

I started out on the harmonica self-taught for the first 3 years of my harp blowing career. This was because there was no information on how to play like my harmonica hero, Terry McMillan. All of the country harmonica resources would lead back to a player I don’t like, Charlie McCoy. I know that if I would mention that I didn’t like him, the Facebook harmonica community would be extremely offended by my words. They would tell me that I needed to play like him to be successful in country music and that I would be unhireable as a musician if I played like Terry. They viewed Terry as being an obscure harmonica player that didn’t have a lot of session work despite being popular in the 80s and 90s. My playing and love for Terry’s playing were constantly the butt of jokes in the harp community and I felt like I was all alone in the way that I feel. So I felt like I needed to take harmonica lessons to prove them all wrong.
I eventually settled on a country/gospel player named Todd Parrott to be my teacher. And let me tell ya that when I started that first lesson, it was like talking to a childhood friend. I was very nervous to ask him to help me because I’m autistic and some Christians claim that prayer can “cure” an uncurable disability like Autism. So I’d told him before hand about my disability and how it would affect my learning, he was okay with that. Now knowing that I’ve developed a good friendship with him and been progressing a lot faster as a player, I wish I started lessons sooner.


Hi @KeroroRinChou

Todd Parrott plays harmonica with the best of them, and I am glad to hear that you have him as your teacher. I really wish that I could play as well as he does!! He is a true model for harpists.

Terry McMillan left us much too soon. He was a terrific musician (Chet Atkins only selected top musicians to play with him) – so don’t let any Facebook-know-it-all types influence your opinion of him. And Terry was actually very much in demand as a session player – which just shows how much the FB fakers really know.

On this forum no one has been saying bad things about any professional musicians, so don’t feel self-conscious about your favorites or your teachers!!

– Slim :sunglasses:


Todd Parott is an AMAZING player!! How blessed you are to get to study with him. Sounds like he’s a great teacher too.

Anyways, music like all art is subjective. So I won’t be offended that you don’t like Charlie McCoy. :wink:

Yeah Terry did work for Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, The Gaithers, George Jones, Randy Travis, Kenney Chesney, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, EmmyLou Haris, Neil Young, JJ Cale. I mean COME ON. I don’t think you could have picked a better role model on the harmonica!!!

Rock on,


Thanks. From my experience from listening to the genre for most of my life, all of the successful harmonica players in country music had their different sounds which many of the Facebook blues players fail to realize.
For example, Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson’s harp player, actually learned some country playing techniques from Don Brooks, Waylon Jennings’s harp player, and he also played chromatic and tremolo harps. Both of them are successful both in and outside of country without piggybacking off of McCoy’s success. Wayne Rainey and Lonnie Glosson, two harp players that came before McCoy, played duets together and had their own distinctive sounds. And Terry McMillan, while being influenced by McCoy, had blues and jazz influences from Little Walter and Toots Thielemens and took inspiration from guitarists and sax players to create his iconic playing style. And he made it just fine without having to play like McCoy all the time.
My point is that you don’t have to imitate the most successful person to have notoriety in a certain genre. Even McCoy said himself, “try to figure out something that’s your own.” We need diversity in playing styles in order to not get bored.


Yeah, exactly. It’s just like the blues guys who only think “real harmonica playing” is regurgitating Little Walter licks.


Massive kudos to you @KeroroRinChou for sticking with it and treading your own path rather than going with the opinions of the sheeple of social media.

Also, thanks too for being open about your autism - as someone who lives with it too I’ve found that over time it does pay to be clear with people, and often helps them understand behaviour or approaches that aren’t ‘typical’.
On this note, regards Facebook, quitting social media about 5 or 6 years ago is likely the single best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. If you don’t have any particular ties for needing it, I’d thoroughly recommend giving yourself some space for it, temporarily or permanently.

On the topic of recommendations - I’ve found the Beginner to Boss lessons really great for how I learn - I’d recommend it if you wanted additional learning to complement your face to face lessons.

Keep on being yourself and treading your own path, we’re all here for you when you need support on your musical journey.


Hello @MikeyJay,
I also said goodbye to Facebook and Instagram a few years ago.
It has taken up too much of my time mostly pointlessly. I had also noticed how it was causing me more and more stress. As a replacement, I got my analogue life back and gained quality again.


Thanks to you both @MikeyJay and @AstridHandbikebee63. The only reason I stay on Facebook is that without it, I have no connection to other musicians and harmonica players especially since there’s no other musicians whom are or aren’t in my age range in the area. I tried asking to join a band on a few Facebook groups, but absolutely nobody wanted to interact with me. I think they are friends with a few of the Facebook blues harp purists and have told them how much of a bad apple I supposedly am and have basically blacklisted me. I feel so alone as a musician. I only have a few online friends and no IRL ones.


Hello @KeroroRinChou,
reading your lines makes me very sad.
I could play in a sound orchestra here in town. But that is not possible for me because of my physical handicap and the unfavorable times.
I have longtime IRL friends, but they don’t play any instruments or want to learn.
So only your own room remains! Nevertheless, I keep going because I’m doing it for ME and it’s good for me mentally and physically.

Why should I limit myself because of other people and different interests? I’m not harming anyone! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen to it. Advanced learners should never forget that they too were at the beginning.


Sorry to hear that @KeroroRinChou

None of my friends play any instruments and a few don’t even listen to music, so don’t let things like other people hold you back - as Astrid has pointed out, we all play music for our own enjoyment and wellbeing; if other people enjoy our playing too then that’s just a bonus.

Regards finding people to play with if that’s what you’re after, do you have a local music shop? If so you could always leave a flyer on their noticeboard saying about being a harmonica player looking for musicians to play with.


@MikeyJay I’ve been looking at Facebook music groups in my area of Northeast Ohio (Erie and Lorain Counties). But there’s no country bands looking for a harmonica player in my area. In fact, none of the bands want a harmonica player. All they want is metal and rock music. There’s a music store near Sandusky, but I’ve never been there at all so I don’t know if there’s any country bands looking for a harmonica player.


That does sound like an uphill struggle, certainly.

The only other thing I could suggest is to blaze your own path, record with backing tracks or take the lead in setting up your own band. Easier said than done but potentially a lot of fun, and you’d have like minded people joining you on your adventure rather than having to fit yourself into someone else’s criteria.

However you take things from here though, good luck, all of of us on the forum have your back :blush:


I recently started to study play harmonica but it’s hard. Used to read new information about choose harmonica and how to hold a harmonica which is like new thing which I use to study. Hope I will study information about elements of harmonica and how to play it correctly


Welcome @Samder. I believe that the harmonica, just like any other musical instrument, can be difficult to learn. It might even take a while to get your foot off the ground. Just trust the process and take your time with it. Harp is really a fun instrument to play on, even if it is one of the most difficult to sound right on it. I hope that your journey on the instrument is an amazing one.


@Samder first up, welcome to the forum

Regards the harmonica being hard - of couse it is, all instruments are difficult, especially in the beginning.
Buuut, perservere with it and soon you’ll hopefully find a few aspects start to click and then things will get going for you.
Enjoy the process and have fun discovering what this little instrument can do


It is really hard. Perhaps deceptively so because at first blow appears to be a simple tiny instrument. I got single notes instantly along with playing simple melodies I knew well by ear. THEN I wanted to play by tab, things I didn’t know. Mmm problem. Then the 2 draw. I had decided I would never get. Being stubborn I kept at it. I got it then I didn’t. Then all of a sudden I always did. Now I’m fighting with the 3 draw on a G harmonica. And so it goes.
But it’s worth it. The guys here are really supportive and positive.
Don’t be fooled. It’s a big dragon in a tin box but I’m sure once you tame it he’s your PUFF.


Hey @Samder big welcome to you. You will find that this isn’t just a group of people who talk about the harp. I been here less than a month and found that I have this new wonderful family. I have gratefully been the recipient of support in areas of life non musically related.
(Yes, I’m referring to you Cheesecake)
I’m so happy to have you with us :grinning:


Hey @Samder welcome to the forum and CONGRATS on your decision to play the best instrument in the world! It’s not hard, it’s easy! Well… As @toogdog said, it may be a dragon, but it will become your PUFF! :dragon::heart::notes:

You might like my 3 free lessons for super-beginners. Keep us posted how it goes for ya! :facepunch:t3: