Hello. I am 60 years of age and live near Seattle. I took up the harmonica in August of 2009 at my wife’s urging. I was diagnosed with a pretty significant lung condition having lost almost 70% of my lung function. Playing the harmonica was supposed to help according to a news documentary she watched. At the time, I could not walk a flight of stairs without gasping for air. It was a pretty scary time for sure.
I am a lifelong hobbyist musician having studied clarinet and sax through my school years and then turned to vocal music as an adult, singing in church choirs and in a barbershop chorus and a eventually a quartet. At 50 years of age, I embarked on a life’s goal of learning the piano. Ten years later, practicing several hours a day, it is starting to come together. My current instrument of choice is piano. It is my passion, my therapy, my creative outlet. I play a couple of gigs a month and have a great time.
The harmonica? Well, it couldn’t hurt and might be fun. So I joined the Harmonica Academy and started working through the lessons. It took me almost two months to get single notes and then another month to get to the end of Shenandoah without gasping for air. This wasn’t fun….it was a lot of work and effort. But the weeks and months passed and I kept working on it. It seemed to be getting a bit easier each week. Finally, on my six month anniversary with the Harmonica Academy, I recorded my first tune, Scotland the Brave. It is posted on YouTube.
Scotland The Brave
I didn’t blink during the whole song. I was terrified. Since then I have recorded several other tunes. You can view them all by searching on “ejp1949” on YouTube. It seems like it has been a few steps forward, then a few steps back. When I think I have the 2D bend down pretty well, it goes away for a while. Sometimes this is frustrating……but I have developed a passion for the harmonica. And….I am having fun with it.
The big news though, is that shortly after recording Scotland the Brave, I had a check up with my lung doctor. Let me tell you what he said when all of my lung capacity tests came back. He said, “I don’t know what I am going to do with you. You are an abnomally. When people come in with the condition you have they don’t get better. They deteriorate and within three years they are dead.” Yes, my tests were better, not just a little, either. My lung capacity was up by almost 20%. I have been hovering between 45% and 50% function for almost a year. That alone is worth a few hours a week on the harmonica. I still can’t run up the stairs or do a lot of strenuous activity, but I seldom think about my breathing problems any more. I believe the harmonica had a lot to do with that. I have also been covered in prayer by those in my circle. One of my favorite Bible teachers, J. Vernon McGee, said, “When you pray to God for a harvest, He expects you to say Amen with a hoe.” Well, the harmonica has turned into my hoe.
So, now, about fifteen months into this adventure, I have become afflicted with a new disease. My friend David Thomas calls it GAS. Its full name is Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I fought this to no avail. What started out as a Golden Melody in C has become an almost full set of Seydel Blues Sessions, amplifiers, microphones, cables, camcorder, digital recorder……it seems the list is endless. Then, when I thought I was pretty much set, somebody flashed a picture of the Harrison B-Radical in front of me. I tried to resist with all my might, but I wasn’t strong enough. I put in an order for a C and G harp that will cost me more than my entire set of Seydels. I am guessing I will have them sometime in March 2011. I can hardly wait!
So, fellow sojourners, that’s my story and I’m sticking by it.