How many Beginner players Here

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

How many Beginner players Here

Postby G McBride » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:08 pm

I have been playing the Harmonica a couple of years now. Not real good but advancing. I play along or imitate harmonica back up and solos on the radio and CDs while driving the back roads to and from work.

How did the rest of you start and progress to a higher level of playing? Did you have a teacher or Mentor that move you up or did you do it on your own.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby jeffl » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:49 pm

I'm almost 60 yrs. old and have been playing harp since I was about 15; there's WAY more learning resources now than there was then. Back then, we listened to British blues recordings first, and those led us to white American players who were influenced alot by the Chicago & delta harpers of the 40's,50's, and 60's. THEN, we found recordings of Chicago & Delta players. Even after all that, it was a book a white American named Tony Glover wrote that explained a little theory and different harp positions to play in, and gave tribute to some harp pioneers that brought everything into clearer focus.

If I was learnin' to play nowadays, I'd do alot of the same listening (including the British blues), add the slew of good American harpers... but I'd use the online resources to get the basics earlier so that I wouldn't have to fumble around ignorantly as long as I did then. Even the simple tutorial that's linked to from the main page of this forum will get people started. Otherwise, there are online coaches aplenty now, and there have been some great book/cd sets done by guys like Jerry Portnoy (one of Muddy's old harpers).

If I wanted to be a serious harper now, I'd get to some harp clinics for hands on coaching, and I'd find a decent coach as close to home as I could. It's always beneficial to have a coach.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby jbone1 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:01 pm

what jeff said. i'm 56 and got my first harp at age 16. many many years later i began to "get it". by the 90's i was a fair player and worked with bands here and there, hit a lot of open mics, listened to a lot of cassettes and cds. that all helped but a couple of very good guys helped me a lot one on one.
then the internet began exploding, and i got a lot more benefit from all the information to be found there.

the bottom line for me, looking back, is that i wish i'd actually learned what tony glover was teaching in his book, and sought out a teacher long before i did. i could have saved about 20 years of stumbling around.

G, any way i can help you, just ask. and i know there are others who visit this forum who will gladly do the same!
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby TC6969 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:43 pm

I got my first Marine Band when I was 11 (I'm 58 now)

The only learning tool available to me at the time was the little brown paper book that came free with Hohner diatonics in the 60's.

Learning "On top of old smokey" and "Home on the range" gave me the basic fundamentals that made me the player I am today.

I've never had any luck teaching people because I insist on them learning the basics first and everybody wants to be Little Walter in two weeks.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby jeffl » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:48 pm

Tony Glover was my first hero, and of course he led me to Sonny Terry and the other Sonnys, :)
Really though, I was glad to not have alot of local influences, so I did alotta playin' in a vacuum and it helped me develop my own style.
Corky Siegel was another one of my early influences, and I WAS able to catch him playing live a few times when I was young.

I think a big part of learning fast was that I had a close friend who became my playing partner and he played both piano and guitar, so we played together alot and learned the blues together. That's the guy that just died on me last week- heart attack. By the time I went to college I had harp pretty much figured out enough to perform.

And, BarbecueBob Maglinte will tell you that alot of harpers regress at some point in their journey. If you don't keep gettin' better - or at least maintain your skills- it's gonna happen.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby DaveG » Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:18 pm

I'm about as beginner as they come. At 57 I've just got my first serious harp about a month ago. I've been taking advantage of a lot of the online resources. I figure with a lot of hard work and practice I may soon become a bad harp player, but I hope if I keep at it one day I may rise to mediocre. :D
My playing partner has been bugging me to play some at our next gig, though, so it can't be all bad.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby allanlummox » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:32 pm

I'm a perpetual beginner at harp - I started playing guitar and singing nearly 30 years ago, and I'll have started messing with harp about the same time. Only recently have I started using racked harp as a regular part of my performances.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby TC6969 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:22 pm

jeffl wrote:And, BarbecueBob Maglinte will tell you that alot of harpers regress at some point in their journey. If you don't keep gettin' better - or at least maintain your skills- it's gonna happen.


I'm going through that right now.

Its like I came out of a trance one day and discovered that I was playing the same groove over and over again.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby watertore » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:22 pm

I have been playing for many decades and like the other older learners said, there was nothing around for learning if there wasn't someone in your neighborhood who played. In my case it was the little instructional paper inside the harp box. I looked at it once, got confused and that is as far as my technical learning has gone. I became obsessed with the harp and blues and soon sought out the blues greats and moved anywhere that my soul told me to. I dedicated my life to this and learned firsthand, no lessons just being with them, what playing music was all about. I lived with louisiana red, cool papa, helped sonny terry get around, and played with guys like lightning hopkins, champion jack dupree, junior wells, albert collins, and many others of that era. Often people say to me "man I wish I had opportunities like that." I respond "you would if you blindly dedicated your life to the music." Todays internet/book/video learning methods are lacking the root to what the blues and all live music is about- live. The real learning comes from being in a scene, and seeing how the players live. It is a basic apprentership approach that has been the way for centuries. There is a magical note that only can be passed this way. Most of todays newer stars are technically great but to me, lack that magical note. They google, skype, and youtube their chops. That makes it of no interest to my soul. Also players are now charging for their services. With the old guys there was never any charge. They did like they learned- when someone showed up with the passion for learning, the ones that knew, shared. For this reason, I will never do any kind of non in the flesh teaching or charge a passionate player. Follow your dreams and you will get to them. Walter
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby tbang » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:27 am

New to this forum. I'm 26 yrs old and have been playing harmonica for about 2 and a half yrs. I feel like it's difficult to establish who is a 'beginner' or 'intermediate' harp player because there is always something new to work on. I usually play cross-harp and am usually a lip-purser (or U-blocker in th upper range) who gets along more than decently at blues jams, coffeeshops, and festivals with local bands.

However, when I'm hiding in my house practicing my tongue-blocking and overblowing, I certainly sound like a 'beginner'.

Looking forward to reading, sharing with, and learning from everyone on this forum.
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Re: How many Beginner players Here

Postby Antoon » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:43 pm

Hi, I'm a beginning blues harp player. I took a 6 lessons-course in which we learned to play simple songs and some techniques like bending and tongue blocking. I practice almost daily. Next October I'll take a 6-lessons course, learning playing the blues especially.
One evening in four week I go to course for 2 hours, lead by a blues-harp teacher.
Regularly I print the tabs of a nice song from internet and start to practice. I must say, until now, I'm successfull in learning the songs, but it will take a long time before I can play like my teacher.
I like the instrument very much and hope to play many years.
My teacher says you will learn every day and her motto is: today it is aprty, and tomorrow it will be too: everyone on the blues-harp.

Antoon Koster from Horst, a little town in the south of the Netherlands.
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