Invitation to play harmonica

The couple next door to me are ex-professional musicians. Now retired, but the husband still plays for friends and family. Toog, you would know some of the songs he wrote, Dockers and Eagles team songs and the TV channel 10, good night kids tune.
They occasionally have a sundowner party on their front lawn (we live right by the beach) for friends and neighbours, a street party of sorts. Bring a chair and a plate. He plays keyboard and a couple of his friends sing and play guitar. (they complain that he doesn’t pay them) It is such a beautiful time, to be present on a warm Western Australian early evening, literally 30 meters from the water, watching the sun set over the ocean with lovely live music playing with just 20 or so friends sitting on the lawn with a beer or wine or whatever.
This morning I spoke to them, and the Lady asks, “was that you playing the mouth organ yesterday afternoon, it sounded lovely?” So, I was apologising for being a beginner hack and disturbing the peace. " Yes, I was on my balcony, practicing, sorry I’m just learning." They both said, no it sounded beautiful. We’re having another get together in a month or two, you should play some tunes. Now I’m freaking terrified as I’ve never played to an audience or used a mic. I haven’t committed but the pressure will be on me to play. Aaaggghhh


Hello @PapaCurly,
I wish you a healthy and happy new year.
What you write here sounds so beautiful! Enjoy this time because it seems special.

Best Regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


My first attempt is under 7 Nation Army on Harmonica - #4. I shook so much I nearly threw the harmonica across the room. It was a month ago. Someone tried to hold a mike up to me and totally threw me. Either practice A LOT with a mike or ask can you play without for a while. Good luck. I bet you’ll be great. How exciting.


Thank You Astrid, Happy New Year to you.
Yes, it is indeed a privilege just to be present in such a beautiful time and place.

Fantastic Toog, I’m not sure that you’re making me feel any more confident but well done to you. Assuming I decide to take up the invitation, I’m sure I will be just as nervous as you describe. Thanks for the good wishes.


Papa Curly
I feel your fear man. I havnt completely taken the public playing step either. I had my first go on a mike and amp at a group lesson a month ago. I turned it right down and hid in the corner haha
Ya gotta spend some time with that Mike in your hand to get use to it, I reckon that’s the only way. - so maybe ask them to borrow one?

I reckon tell them how u feel, ask them for a number of songs they are gonna play and then learn some of the chords and rhythm to one so u can just be part of the whole sound. Maybe just do the chorus…. Bit like in the beginner to blues course where we learnt the Tom petty stuff ?

Hope it goes well for ya mate

Richard B


Thanks Mate, the only songs I could contribute to are Neil Young’s ‘heart of gold’, the 3 solos that Luke provided tuition for, and ‘long may you run’ intro, which is mostly self-taught. I might ask to practice with the mic before anyone else turns up for the party. Problem is that they don’t actually live next door to me, it’s just a holiday house for them, and the only time he sets up is for the aforementioned sundowners a couple of times over summer. I haven’t done BTB or any other course, just the free stuff on this site. It’s outside, so I might wear sunglasses and close my eyes.
Thank You for the good wishes.


Hi @PapaCurly

That is always a good idea (or perhaps do that during any break(s) they have during the session). That would be your “sound check” and that is what all decent amplified musicians do (or perhaps they have a person at the “controls” who adjusts the amplification during the performance – but the sound check is really, in my opinion, essential and I never play amplified without doing a sound check first). :point_left:

– Slim :sunglasses:


Are you figuring to play something solo? Or accompany the others? What key(s)? Grab your gear, a chair, and show up. Maybe you’ll end up playing, maybe not. Sounds kind of informal to me, like the porch/garage/yard parties we have around here. If you don’t go, you’ll probably always wish you had.


Thank You Trapper for your reply. Yes, you are exactly right, the musicians play on the porch to family, friends and neighbours sitting on the lawn. If it happens, I would hope to accompany them in a couple of songs that actually feature harmonica. From their perspective, it’s just an interactive, informal jam session, and I guess you would say it’s the perfect opportunity for me. But this Gentlemen was music director for the State Telethon for 30 years and has worked with many of the world’s most famous musicians, so from my perspective its terrifying. I’m a natural introvert.
I might regret that I didn’t do it, I might regret that I did. For now, I’m flattered that they overheard me practicing and said that it sounded great. Hopefully they weren’t just being polite. It’s a few weeks away, and I will continue practice.


Hey PapaCurly, these folks have heard you and invited you – that’s already saying something. These are the sort of sessions that I started with. I get it, you love playing the harp and would like to play for others, but that introverted, shy, stage-frightened self is at odds with the desire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played with sweat running down my forehead from nerves. But I kept at it and it’s been an awful lot of fun! Many of the songs I’ve played were just fills between lyrics, a few notes is all, what one vocalist called “tasty bits”. It’s a good way to start and nobody wants a harmonica overpowering the singer. A lot of harp players should learn that. I’ve been at it a long time, now, with several bands and recorded on a few locally produced albums. No, we’re not big time and I don’t make a living playing music, but getting paid is pretty cool. By now I’m pretty comfortable on stage. – just played a duo gig Friday and my partner Josh told me we’ll start with a song we’ve never done before. A few years back that would have terrified me, I mean, the 1st song? In front of an audience? But it went fine. So, whatever you decide, good luck to you. But remember-- nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Thank You again Trapper. You’ve got me worked out.
What you have written about your own journey is reassuring and very encouraging. Congratulations to you also for achieving so much. I’m glad you’re having so much fun with it.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is good advice. We shall see what happens.


Have fun and go for it. The only way to get rid of the nerves is to shake them off and keep climbing back on stage.

I would suggest not using a harmonica mic and simply playing into a mic set up for singing. It will reduce the complexity for you and you’ll be able to use hand effects as well. Learning to play with a harmonica mic (and everything involved) can be a next step.

Enjoy and let us know how it went!


Thanks, Jago, for the encouragement.
I hadn’t even considered there might be different kinds of mic.


@PapaCurly you will regret not doing, you won’t regret doing it. You’ll GROW from doing it. I’m a bit confused, are they setting up a PA or just playing acoustic kinda like around a campfire style?

More about the stage fright here:


Thanks Luke.
I had a very abusive wife also; there won’t be a second one for me. There are a few reasons for me being a bit fragile, including the death of one of my children.
I sometimes say to people, if you want to see courage, go to the cancer ward at a children’s hospital. So, with that frame of reference, I should know the philosophy better than most people, but of course we can all feel fear from time to time and fear of embarrassment is a big one. I reckon us broken people are over-represented on this forum, I wonder if this little instrument is acting as a salve for some of us.

The good people next door will have a PA set up. If it was just sitting around the campfire stuff, I wouldn’t be too worried.

Thank You again for your encouragement and advice.


@PapaCurly I’m so sorry for the loss of your child my friend. I imagine that must be the worst pain a human can have to endure.

Are you gonna be playing blues? If not, then I would just play into the mic they have set up, no need purchase a mic and amp or what not.

DO IT! You got this! :facepunch:t3: