RE: Best way? [Warning - LONG] (was Returned mail)

Title was "Returned Mail" ?

Ed Smith, EAS05@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes...

>I am a new member to the list.  I found the list while surfing the net.
>I am 37 years old and have never played a musical instrument. 

>Could you please point me in the right direction?  What is the best way to
>learn how to play?  I am not looking to be a world famous player, just want to 
>be able to play some tunes.  I bought the beginners kit from Klutzs. It has a 
>book, tape and a Harmonica.  After I bought it, I saw the introduction to 
>diatonic harmonica in the harmonica gopher site.  It reccommends against the 
>methond presented by Klutz.  I am open to any suggestions.

Hi Ed,  Welcome to HARP-L

I am the author of the "Getting Started with Diatonic" page on the Gopher.
This entry to the gopher was intended as a quick introduction to the diatonic 
which, with just a couple hours (less?) of study, a beginner could learn the C 
scale on the diatonic - and some rudiments of music reading to boot. (This is 
also recommended to long time ear players). I had no intention of recommending 
~against~ the Klutz and other (book, tape, video) methods. I wouldn't do that 
to my friend Jon Gindick. I do stress pretty strongly that a harmonica player 
should learn to read music ~Sooner or Later~. I played by ear for forty years. 
If I had learned to read I would be far more advanced now. By all means, use 
the Klutz material, but I suggest you use mine first for a quick, basic intro. 
- takes very little time and is guranteed painless.

I have re-read my "Getting Started..." -- maybe I made some confusing 
statements. The first paragraph paraphrases remarks by Stan Harper, a long time 
pro who plays chromatic - every word he says is true -- if you're talking about 
learning the chromatic. It is not so cut and dried with the diatonic. With 
chromatic you read the spots and play the instrument. If you want to play 
blues, country, jazz, etc. on the diatonic (or chromatic for that matter) - you 
need a knowledge of music that goes beyond simply reading the notes. You need 
an understanding of chord structure, modes, scales, (in other words, Music 
Theory, in order to ~really~ learn to play the diatonic). If your going to 
learn theory it starts with the rudiments of reading music.

The statement below, "Why learn a half dozen play by number systems...", alerts 
us to the fact that there are several number systems. Up Arrow for blow, Down 
arrow for draw, the next author may use just the opposite, someone else will 
use big numbers for blow, little numbers for draw, and yet another will circle 
the number representing blow -- or draw. And then you get into all kinds of 
symbols for bends, etc. [Don't avoid these methods, just be aware].

((Light at the end of the tunnel -- Winslow Yerxa has been working on a font 
for computer printing tablature for diatonic -- If it is as good as I think it 
will be, maybe it can be adopted as a standard for all diatonic method books. 
Winslow will make a fortune marketing this and pay all our ways to the SPAH 
convention when he clears his first million.))     ;-)

Here is that section from the Gopher:
------HarmoniGopher exerpt------

G>	If I may borrow a tip from a recent seminar by harmonica virtuoso Stan 
G>Harper. Stan strongly urges us to learn our instrument. The tone, vibrato and 
G>all the other neat stuff will come later. All these techniques are worthless 
G>if we cant play the instrument. The best way to learn our instrument is to 
G>learn to read music then practice scales and drills. Then you will truly 
G>progress and improve your playing. [A distinguished gentleman carrying a 
G>violin case asked a scruffy looking hippie how to get to Carnegie Hall, the 
G>hippie replied "Practice man, practice".] Why learn a half dozen play by 
G>number systems, or continue struggling along playing by ear, when there is an 
G>international standard for reading music.

G>	IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) you should develope music reading & theory 
G>skills in order to play the diatonic harmonica just as you would to master 
G>the chromatic harmonica. Serious chromatic students should learn to play 
G>scales in any key, including chromatic scales, on a "C" harmonica. This is 
G>not easily done on the diatonic. This does not make the diatonic any less of 
G>a musical instrument. There is more of a need for a knowledge in the areas of 
G>chord make-up and progressions, blues scales, modes, etc. (Stuff I don't 
G>intend to cover in this document). Not to scare anyone but I believe it is 
G>more difficult to learn the diatonic, properly, than chromatic.

G>	Even the most accomplished diatonic players use harmonicas tuned in 
G>different keys. Want to change keys? Change harmonicas. So a tune, 
G>progression, scale, riff, etc. learned on a diatonic can be played in any key 
G>by changing harps. This does not make the diatonic any easier to learn or 
G>teach. The diatonic harmonica (normally) is tuned differently from a 
G>chromatic. The diatonic scheme is called Richter tuning after the man who 
G>developed it. This tuning, developed in the 1800's lends itself to blues and 
G>country/western playing. This, I'm sure, was not Richter's original intent. 
G>Maybe it had something to do with the way stringed instruments were tuned. I 
G>do know that it gives us blow and draw chords on the low and high end of the 
G>harmonica. We'll get more into that later.

G>	There are many techniques or styles to learn on the diatonic harmonica 
G>and it can't all be written down in standard music notation. With all that 
G>said I still believe one should be able to play the "C" scale and some simple 
G>melodies on the diatonic by reading standard music notation. Developing this 
G>ability as beginners will only help as we learn more about the layout 
G>(tuning) of your harmonica. For those who would eventually study the 
G>chromatic harmonica it will be a step in the right direction.
------end HarmoniGopher exerpt------

Anyway, Learn to read. But also take advantage of all the other good methods. I 
think you'll find that many (most) use tablature (numbers, blow draw arrows) 
but some basic music theory will even make this stuff more understandable. 

>BTW, how many different kinds of harmonicas are there?

This has been asked before. Maybe we can get a page in the HarmoniGopher 
covering this. (Did I volunteer to work on this a while back?) There are four 
groups of harmonica. Diatonic, Chromatic, Tremolo, and Orchestral (Chord, Bass, 
Polyphonia). There are 4 major harmonica manufacturers. Hohner (Germany), 
Hering (Brazil), Huang (made by a large Chinese Co.- don't know the name), Lee 
Oskar (actually a brand name, manufactured by Tombo, Japan, to his exacting 
specifications). There are others I'm sure but can't think of them.
These manufacturers account for hundreds of types, styles of harmonica.

>Thank you in advance for any help the you may be able to provide.

Thank you and I apologize if I misled anyone with my diatonic primer.
There are many good harmonica methods, mine is just (maybe) one of them.

Well, this came off kind of looking like a flame - but that was not my intent, 
just clarification. My apologies to the list for the long reply.

       Jack Ely - Columbus, Ohio  --Internet--> IMS_ELY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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