Tips For Raw Beginners

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Tips For Raw Beginners

Postby Old Stella » Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:30 pm

This might help you learn harmonica. I know that the best words to describe learning any instrument are regular, systematic, and short practices. To avoid blowing a new harp out also, I:

Decided to give myself one year to learn - meaning a couple tunes that sound close to the original and the ability to improvise, plus learn bending on the easier, basic bending holes.

I bought 7 harps of a good brand so I HAD to learn. No turning back.

I practiced and just goofed off with the harp in my car to and from work, nowhere else. That's how I learned. Plus, a few tips from a harmonica playing buddy and John Sebastion's DVD.

So I had a structured practice regime that was fun too, and I had a goal to learn in a year. My harps were broken in slowly over time and still after 3 years they play fine. I wasn't pressured or embarrassed in public, because I wasn't in public - I was in my car. But the best advantage I believe is that you hear the harp clearly and deeply. Most people really get into their CD's or radio while driving. I really got into my harp. Driving is a right brain activity. So is music. They go together. You'll learn fast.
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Postby jeffl » Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:54 pm

Thanks Old Stella. You've just reopened the thread where we talk about about drivin' down the road, steerin' with your knees, drinkin' a soda, smokin' a cigarette, and diggin' for the right key in your case on the passenger seat,lol!
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Postby 1armbandit » Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:35 pm

jeffl wrote:Thanks Old Stella. You've just reopened the thread where we talk about about drivin' down the road, steerin' with your knees, drinkin' a soda, smokin' a cigarette, and diggin' for the right key in your case on the passenger seat,lol!


Everything but the smoking part. But I will be texting the daughter so it all even out. I'll also be changing CD's cause I just have the "C harp" stuck in the visor and the "A" in my pocket. The cruise will be set so all's cool right?
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Postby angerboy » Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:22 pm

This could be a great thread that shouldn't be derailed...

Here is a great tip, which helped me out. If there are players in your area, go out and see them. Listen to them. Watch what they are doing.

I was fortunate. I started playing in the early 80's in Chicago. There were a lot of great harp players still around that were playing in the 50's. I saw them as much as I could and absorbed what I could. Sadly, many of those players are gone.

I never felt comfortable asking questions, because I considered those guys to be stars. After all, many of them were American music legends or had worked with legends.

That would have been one thing that I would have changed, because I have yet to meet another harp player that doesn't have time for people that have a genuine desire to learn.

Practice. While it isn't completely necessary, it'll be extremely helpful to learn how to tongue block.

Have fun. It supposed to be fun.
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Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:06 pm

Angerboy, yer points are well taken. I know when I started out, back in the sixties, seeing great harp players was a huge inspiration for me, as well as being educational. When I heard Paul Butterfield, Tony (Little Son) Glover, Corky Siegel (that's two Chicago guys!), and some good local guys, it really inspired me to see what I could do with that little instrument. I also feel that Tony Glover's book was a huge help to me, helpin' me understand basics-- especially tongue blocking. My dad had introduced me to tongue blocking and taught me how to do it, but Glover elaborated on what you can do with the technique. Also, I think Portnoy's CD does a good job of discussing moving between tongue blocking and lip pursing on the fly. I think there's as much need for tongue blockers to learn lip pursing as their is for lip pursers to learn tongue blocking.
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Postby Jaybird803 » Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:14 pm

"That would have been one thing that I would have changed, because I have yet to meet another harp player that doesn't have time for people that have a genuine desire to learn. " --Angerboy.
Right on that!!
I have been going to opens mic for a while and always try to talk to and get to know all the harp players. From my view, it is not a competition but a fraternity. None of the other harpers I know can play quite like me, but at the same time, I cannot play quite like them either. I am always willing to lend any asked for advice, or take any well meant critisism. That's how we learn and grow. It should be fun.
I also learned while driving my VW with my knees, and then upgrading to a rack (Ha!). My cars had no radio, so I was the sound system. Still am.
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Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:59 pm

Good points about learning from each other. There's a local blues band here with a front man who is and always has been a mediocre harper, but I love him. I listen to him any time I can, because even though I do alotta things better than him ( according to his own band ) he does many things well that I need to improve on. I learn somethin' everytime I catch his band. BTW, the guy is a great frontman, and a really good blues singer too, so you got a guy who's a passable harper, with all the other skills, and years of experience and tons of tunes in him....How could I not learn something from a guy like that? When people start dissin' his harpin', or tellin' me I'm a better harper than him, I always respond that my harpin' may be better, but I don't hold a candle to him in any other category or skill, and I've always known him to be very gracious in sharing his stage with me. He's a way better overall bandmate than I am at this stage. I go listen to any harper I can.
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