Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time to Restock

   After I retired, and was poking around. looking for something to do, I decided to take a course in Beginning Harmonica at the senior center in Blue Springs, Missouri, where I had settled down.  Somehow I had managed to teafh myself to play one number, Oh, Susanna on the one harmonica I had.  I thought I ought to learn to play something else too.

   I had to buy a new harmonica' the one I had was in the wrong key. And I showed up at the class and joined the four other seniors who, like me, were neophytes. We didn't even have the skills to blow one note at a time, but could only puff a bunch of notes at once.

   The instructor was part of a performaing harmonca group, and a harmonica repair specialist, and a long time harp instructor. (Harmonicas are called "harps".) He taught us to blow one note at a time, to play a scale, and to read harmonica music.  All in six lessons.  We weren't virtuosos, but learned to play more than Oh, Susanna.

   Step two.  My cousin and her husband, Paul, came to visit.  Paul was a long time harp enthusiast and was intrigued with my progress. We played a tune or two together, since he always had a harmonica with him. I became his protoge and be sponsored my next adventure.  He sent me a Chromatic harmonica as a gift.  A Chromatic harmonica has a shift key on it, that enables you to play "half notes', sharps and flats, as well as the whole notes that the simple diatonic harmonica plays.

   I fiddled and tootled with that, and that led me to the next step.  I began buying harmonicas. At first it was a couple in the popular keys that a player might need. Harmonicas are tuned to one of the twelve musical keys and you need to select the harmnica to play in the key that the particular musical piece is wtitten in.  But before long I had bought a whole set of harmonicas, one in each of the twelve keys possible  And then a "back up" set. 

   By now, you see, I was hooked.  I was a harp jjnkie, an addict.  By fooling around, I found that you could accompany other musicans by playing three common chords. Blow into the harmonica and you get the major chord. Draw, inhale, into the upper end and you get the second common chord, and draw into the lower end and you get the third chord you need to play most music.  I began to "sit in" with the visiting musical groups that came to play at the old folks' home.

   Now, I began to teach seniors to play, just as I was taught at a senior center. I was not an acomplished player myself, but I knew a few tricks that I could share, enotgh so others could enjoy what I enjoyed.

   And I began to promote harp playing.  I bought a dozen basic harmonicas so that I could give a harp to anyone who showed an interest.  And I did. I gave to seniors and nephews and grand children and grand kids of fellow residents. I bought a dozen more, and then another dozen. I became a promoter.

   Recently we had a great Easter Egg hunt for kids at the old folks home and I gave away my complete supply of promotional harmonicas.  The kids left happily tootling. 

   Tme to restock.


garnett109 said...

You are a man of many hats, my pop had one and he played a few tunes on it, I think , yep I may buy one.

hugsdoodlewacky said...

(((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU))))))))))))Have a nice day.

chasferris said...

See comment #1 below... Tood bad you don't live here, Art.  By now I would have given you one. l

madcobug said...

Brings back memories of my Grandmother playing her harp. My uncle played one also. Helen

jckfrstross said...

what a great thing to give the kids:) WTG Chuck


jocalodave said...

In other parts of the world, the harmonica is known as:

ruines babines ("ruins the lips") - France
fidil fhrancach (Gaelic for "French fiddle") - Ireland
moothie - Scotland
gaita (also used to refer to bagpipes and various other instruments) - various Spanish/Portuguese-speaking countries
fotzhobel (literally "mouth plane", also used to denote the panpipes) - various German-speaking countries
muzicuta - Romania
Mississippi saxophone, Louisiana saxophone - various parts of the USA
harpoon - various parts of the USA
gob iron - various parts of the UK
tin sandwich - widespread


tendernoggle said...

That was so nice of you Chuck? Ever heard of a "juice harp"?
love ya,

plieck30 said...

That was a thoughtful thing to do. Paula