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.

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