I’ll be honest and upfront and say I don’t understand a whole lot about the technical aspects of music…just yet. I may like to get some sort of scholarship and perhaps study it further, but it’s on a back burner for now.
When I was younger though, I did take accordion lessons. But the first teacher turned out to be a child molester (not me, his family members); and the second one an alcoholic (who fell off a stage and ended his career there and then). So my musical training didn’t ever go far, and what I knew then, well, miles and miles have gone by since.
The only thing I do remember is that I when I played the accordion in my bedroom I liked to try my own things out on it. It sounded good to me; however, I had to play the book notes and songs properly because dear old mom was paying for the lessons. I don’t know why, but I found it difficult to do.
I wish I had pursued it in some form or another because one Weird Al Yankovic came along and did his own thing on the accordion and made a living at it! Well, maybe soon enough some Aha-Eureka moments will be shining through, I know they will. Anyway…
Speaking freely here as the non-professionally trained harp enthusiast that I am, I do read a lot about music. Doesn’t mean I understand it, but I do have some comfort here. Why? Well I’m a big fan of David Harp. And he says upfront too that he never understood music and its language either. Yet he stayed with it, and eventually became the fine author and great teacher that he is.
He does offer some instruction on Music Theory as well as on Improvisation. I don’t know where you are in your journey through the harmonica universe, so maybe this can help:
However too though – in reading other people from other forums and such, many of them like yourself seem to struggle with this or that. I’ll admit I do and have as well. We all want to get better and improve ourselves to be sure.
Yet I believe in how one approaches things where the real enemy and/or foe is here. Meaning, along with buying lots of things harmonica – I also wanted to know what makes a musician a musician to begin with.
I came across a great book and cd that many talk about and has helped lots of people. Perhaps it will help you too!
It’s called Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. I recommend the book with or without the cd, not with the dvd. But you can it find here as a start:
Another interesting thing I found is playing with your eyes closed.
Yeah, check it out!
I don’t know if you do that already or not. But Howard Levy said other people have commented on his playing with his eyes closed. Howard said he could better feel and hear the music that way.
Well, think about it! Shutting off one sense (even for a few brief moments) brings out other senses. I noticed JP closes his eyes too on his dvds where he’s playing on stage.
It might seem self-evident, but really it’s not.
Here’s another thing I found within myself. When I’m out on the street just harpin’ away – Many times I’ll just get into a ‘zone’ and viola! things that I’ve been working on at home struggling with even suddenly just come out and play. It’s like having an out-of-body experience, man! Cool beans, eh?!
Bottom line is: Play what’s in your head; play what’s in your heart; and don’t sweat the small stuff too much and the bigger stuff will take care of itself!!
If anything, I’ll leave you with a quote I found in David Harp’s ‘Music Theory Made Easy’ book – It comes from the late, great saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker who said:
“First you master your instrument, then you master the music, then you forget about all that…and just play!”
Let me know if any of this helps you.
Thanks for reading!