What I did first...

Hi Gang. I wanted to share a couple of simple concepts i used to get myself up and running as a basic harp player. I am no Howard levy, but i did progress rapidly and was bending notes in under 2 weeks…not accurately, but at least getting it done by starting with the unbent note and sliding down there. It was a start.

The basic concept i wanted to share was this one: Learn the harmonica as an instrument, not as a sound effect. I learned train sounds…of course i did. I love them too. But, i never lost sight of my goal to play the notes i want, when i want, and with enough control to put them into music, both by myself and in a band context. I have done much better in the band context because i was motivated to get ready for a blues and bbq festival. I have a very very long way to go before i can attempt any one-man playing in public. Still, the concept remains and drives me to find the notes i want on any harp in any key i pick up, when i hear a song i like. I do this as an exercise, realizing i will choose a key based on the music and position i want to play in in real life.

The concept forces me to drill home the mechanical reversal at hole seven, for example…the importance of hitting a half or whole step bend from some other hole because it is the next note in the melody…the use of vibrato in its different mechanical forms and tremolo as it often appears when attempting vibrato…avoiding the OVERUSE of any one technique (including vibrato) and the importance of space in music.

All these flow from the one umbrella concept of learning the INSTRUMENT just like you learn a piano or a flute or a guitar. Gear is secondary and a whole different topic.

That’s my .02 on that…

Yeppers, gotta have goals, man!

Charlie “Bird” Parker and the Most Interesting Man in the World down in my sig say it best!


Keep on Harpin’!

I really appreciate you focus on techniques and mechanics.

I totally agree…some people don’t think working on this stuff is as fun as just jamming but it is where the rubber hits the road.

Thanks congaron!


Nice Post Congaron,

Especially this one

and the importance of space in music.

Without that it’s just noise. But there was so much good info in that post Hope everyone reads it through
nice and slow :wink:


Harp On!!

Very nice post, congaron. Everyone should read this. Learning any musical instrument is difficult. Before we can create music, we have to practice, and practice until the instrument becomes an extension of the body…just like our hands and fingers. Then you don’t have to think - “okay, I’ve got to hit a 3 draw bent a half step”. The notes are there when you need them. You just think about the note, and it will be there. You don’t have to think about the technicalities behind it.

After becoming a part of the body, the next stage is when the instrument becomes a part of the soul. This is when the player starts expressing himself/herself through the instrument.

and the importance of space in music.

Very true! When I started playing, I just focused on the notes. Now I realize the importance of the empty spaces between them. This space is like the canvas on which an artist can paint beautiful paintings. :slight_smile: Listening to the silence in between is just as important as the musical notes.


PS. I’m learning to play the guitar right now. I’m finding it very challenging right now. The guitar is not a part of my body (yet)…but I’m in no hurry. :slight_smile: From my experience with harmonicas, I know this will take time. :slight_smile:

Good post congaron :wink:

When I was in school, many, many years ago, I used to play( :P) the flugelhorn in the band and our old music teacher use to tell us you have to play the pauses, and, don’t practice, PLAY :wink:

Me and you both Ashish I love practicing my Guitar, are you taking on line lessons or
out of a book.

I’m learning chords right now “C” “D” “G” “A minor” and “E minor”,

I can play them but not well enough to go to a beat yet.

I’m trying to learn Blowing in the Wind. ::slight_smile:
I also practice some scales.

Harp on!!

Hey Joe,

We’re almost on the same level. :slight_smile: I’m learning barre chords right now, and some basic fingerstyle techniques. I can play many of the open chords such as C, D, G, A, E etc without problems now. Learning to change between different chords is always the hardest part, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

I can play them but not well enough to go to a beat yet.

Practice with a metronome! Practicing chord changes with a metronome has helped me more than anything. Also practice “air changes”.

BC-153 • Air Changes (Guitar Lesson)

How to memorize CHORDS - Part 1

I’m taking online lessons, but I also have some DVDs. Justin Sandercoe seems to have the best online guitar lessons. And they’re all free! www.justinguitar.com

I also have the Learn and Master Guitar DVDs by Steve Krenz. This is also really good.

Nice to have someone to talk about guitars! But this is a harmonica forum, and we could get sent to jail! :-X ;D


B U S T E D***************************************B U S T E D!!!

Hey it’s loosely related I think :-\

Thanks for the guitar vids definitely going to check them out 8)

Harp on!!

It is very closely related to the post i think.

I have been playing guitar for over 30 years. At around the 25 year point i was given a hand-made mandolin by my high school best friend in a different state. Suddenly, i wanted to learn another instrument. I bought a Bass guitar several years ago…before the mandolin…and love it too. I also began on trumpet. singing of course came first. harmonica is my most recent musical pursuit and i love it, just like the rest of them. I have minimal gear for electric playing…basically a valve junior for both guitar or harp. I own one acoustic guitar, one acoustic -electric, three electrics (strat, Les paul copy, and epiphone dot studio), the jazz bass, one f-body mandolin, one a-body with a much thinner neck than the custom one given to me, two sets of three congas, two sets of bongo (i have multiple locations i play percussion at), two darbukas, numerous hand percussion “toys”, my original conn conquest trumpet from my youth, a full set of assorted model professional harps minus Ab and Db for lack of any real need to get them (played an f# harp in 3rd position the other night to some Ab minor blues at jam night), an astatic roadhouse crystal mic, a twin 12 inch cabinet made out of another guitar amp…amp removed… and lots of PA gear.

Not one thing in the list above makes a sound until i make it happen. The sounds are COMPLETELY dependent on me and how musical I can be. Music is just AWESOME, but it has to come into play at the very root of learning all this stuff. Thanks for all the kind words!

The sounds are COMPLETELY dependent on me and how musical I can be.

Wow! G/f says the same to moi; only not talking music, methinks - But sentiments are the same!

It’s a fascinating world at that! hehehhehe!!

Keep on jammin’!