A TEACHER’S REFLECTION ON LEARNING HARMONICA - REVEALING NOTHING BUT PLAIN TRUTH

Harmonica teaching blog - Sharing the truth about learning harmonica

Does the little knowledge acquired by you to initiate playing harmonica testifies it as an easy or simple musical instrument to begin with? How long do I need to study it and what would give it a good start? Should I opt to take regular or private lessons, or mere self-teaching would suffice?  The sheer truth about harmonica.. learning it was never easy!

Welcome to my first blog on ‘Teaching Harmonica’. My name is Luciano Guida. I’m a harmonica instructor who’s always keen to indulge in any kind of music related arguments and discussions. Through this series of posts, I’m going to share with you my views and opinions on playing harmonica from a peculiar perspective of someone who has been teaching harmonica for years. Following me in this world of music shall benefit you in a way none less than receiving some precious tips, not to mention some cool and worthy suggestions too.

Today’s topic: The trap in the name of Youtube and how to avoid overestimation of your own self.

I want to tell you a story about Paul - his fantasy name, who is one out of many harmonica newbies who share the same experiences.Soon after discovering his zest to learn harmonica, Paul starts searching for the relevant information on internet. He finds out that this instrument is also called ‘Blues Harp’, he develops sudden inclination towards studying it and starts looking for ways to learn how to play it. Now an association is born in his mind: blues > blues scale > bending. Paul, who’s never picked a musical instrument before or has ever known what an F sharp actually means, realizes that he must learn to bend notes and also the blues scale. He starts surfing on Youtube only to get immersed in the world of blues with all the video tutorials he ever wanted… super free lessons, in short, a whole new realm of information.

At this point, Paul is focused on working hard to learn bending, no matter if it takes him months. After spending so much time and effort, only to find out that he still can’t play single notes very well, neither can he stay on time nor has he developed a good tone even; what he was trying to accomplish actually should come latter, but no one guided him as a matter of fact. Each time he asked a query, he would receive same answers that were given by beginners like him: “Go to youtube, all is there for you for free, … “ Paul falls right into the trap and couldn’t find a way out, even probably after a couple of years or more, striving to play bending or mays till betrying to imitate blues licks on the first 6 harmonica holes.

Many of us get attracted towards the study of a musical instrument, for instance: a harmonica, assuming that just because it is cheaper to buy, it would be easier to learn too. An object as small as this which costs you only 30 dollars, that emits notes persumably in tune every time you blow in it, can never be difficult to play. Hence, even if we add that it’s enough for today to search on the internet for phrases such as “harmonica tutorial”, “harmonica lesson”, or even “how to play harmonica”, we successfully convince ourselves that within a few weeks we’ll be able to play some wonderful blues solos like those of Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, or Indiara Sfair. Well, if you identify yourself in this description, I regret to intimate that you are one among many other net users, who want to gain any skill possibily for free and in a short time necessarily. But the truth lies hidden.

Learning to play harmonica may take years, and if you’ve never happened to study music before, you’ll find it hard to learn to play it well by just watching videos, reading books, or spending hours asking for suggestions from the people on the internet, who are most often in the same situation as you are. Remember, one hundred inexpert harmonica players together can’t make one good skilled ever.

Youtube is full of videos and among those many are valid also, but this isn’t all you need in case you’ve begun playing harmonica for the first time. Follow this regime and chances are that you may get tricked into a real pitfall where you can’t find any escape for a longer period of time. A great number of my students, say almost 90% of them, joined my classes after wandering around 1 or 2 years, attempting to find the road to success and moreover, without any mentor who could give them feedback; their only disposition being self teaching via watching videos. Let me disclose the blunder they usually commit when they play without any teacher.. they can’t keep track of time. They are unable to play with the metronome and even bad news, is that it costs them a lot in terms of effort and time to get back onto the right path.

The Internet, no doubt, provides a great source of information like many other links available on Internet, but if it would have been enough, anyone could make one hell of a harmonica player in no time; instead most find themselves restricted to playing only limited number of blues licks, with a visible lack of time management, and inability to blow harmonica professionally on holes 7 to 10. 

Good harping! I’ll see you soon with a new article.

Read the article about how to begin playing blues.

Read the article about the benefits of playing harmonica.

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