When I was a kid my dad and my grandfather played the harmonica. I don’t remember or couldn’t discern if they played it well but they did play it during late night family gatherings where liquor and music flowed late into the night. I exhibited enough curiosity about it that they gave me one but it didn’t seem to occur to either gentlemen that they should actually instruct me how to use one. So, along with a handful of small folding knives that my grandfather gave me, and a most excellent hat, my childhood harmonica is long lost.
About three years ago I picked up a couple of plastic harmonicas (in the key of C) at Brass Bell Music. They were very inexpensive and sounded good to me and I realized that I really loved the sound of them. After monkeying around with them at home for a while my wife brought me a real Marine Band harmonica that she owned from a show she stage managed in Memphis years ago. It is in the key of G and I find that I love it in the same way that the one that my dad gave me.
Now, the trick for me is going through the very real exercises of learning how to really use it. Fortunately I have a friend of a friend – Mark Revenson (“Lil’ Rev”) who is a harmonica expert, having written books for the Hal Leonard series on the subject. I have been following his videos on YouTube and reading the books that I have to indoctrinate myself into the reality of playing.
It is slow going, but my childhood experience with the instrument seems to be a little burned into my memory – even though I don’t know the notes I’ve been able to pick out some tunes instinctively. Fun stuff!