Why We Play

I’ve played the harmonica, off and on, for many years. Because of daily and family responsibilities, I would go years sometimes without even picking it up. I’m sure I would have been a better harp player if I had stayed committed to it. Like most things in life, I tried playing it(the harp) “my way”, probably to my detriment. I quit long ago trying to play other people’s music. I stopped mainly for two reasons: (one) I wasn’t good at it. (two)I tried creating my own compositions. I haven’t been good at that, either. No one has ever said that they liked any of my music. So, it’s safe to assume that it stinks! But, that’s okay. I still enjoy making it and playing it. It gives me a sense of worth, albeit, about “two cents worth.” It’s my contribution to the harmonica world.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: Enjoying our music is paramount! Regardless of how we create it. Very few of us will ever become famous or even professional on the harp. But, that shouldn’t deter us from trying our best and giving “our all” to our music. That’s as much a part of “technique” as how we play. Why we play is just as important!

I started playing the harmonica not only because I was fascinated with its distinctive and wailing sound, it was to escape from my traumatizing childhood. I grew up living with an abusive father. Even though I’ve severed my ties with him, he was verbally and mentally abusive towards me and my family. I sometimes still think about the damage he caused to my soul. Despite this, I was heavily bullied in school. Having a severely tortured soul, I developed an emotional connection to the harmonica’s sound. When I’m not trying to imitate another player, I play the harp with my soul and try to convey emotions through the instrument.

Yes, the harmonica can do that for people. It is very soothing, consoling and therapeutic. Which way do you enjoy more? I would imagine that playing the harp with your soul has more healing and expressive properties. Maybe in a way, that’s another important aspect of music. It helps us to cope with our “demons.” It gives us hope and inspiration to “carry on.” Just like with your father, he was able to damage you and others with his behavior. But, by playing the harp , you’re giving others, and yourself, something creative and beautiful in this life. Your father “took away” but you’re “giving back.” That’s always a good thing. The fact that you can do it by using this wonderful instrument is a testament to the power of the harmonica.

Your father may have been treated badly in his earlier life, obviously, I don’t know that for a fact. But, I have seen people who have had childhoods which were bad, only to recreate that same atmosphere when they became a parent and/or spouse. Others, like yourself, who have had rough times, decide to break that cycle. They/you search for the goodness in life and in themselves. In your case, you’re using the harmonica to celebrate life. That’s a lasting tribute to you and anyone who hears your music.