[Harp-L] Re: Trivia Question [Amish Harps]

S.Doyle Yoder Sr wrote:
>Actually as I reread my question I see that I misstated something. There is
>not really a "church rule" that would "allow" the playing of a harmonica
>over another instrument.  Bobbie is correct in that no musical instrument is
>allowed in the worship service.

Not a problem, Doyle, I understand the point you seemingly intended to make.
I just also found it an interesting matter, and it got me to researching a
little.  As you agreed, some orders do apparently permit the use of musical
instruments in their services, albeit specifically pianos or organs.  It has
evidently been a long history to acceptance of any musical instruments in
Amish churches, and I note that first a tuning fork was employed.  One can
only wonder at whether that caused a stir the first time it was tried, since,
to strike one creates a "musical note" that is not from a human voice, and
therefore might perhaps be considered "worldly".

>The use of harmonicas for personal enjoyment has apparently become accepted 
>by many families.  My father and most of his brothers played harmonicas.  
>We also had a piano in our home and of the 13 siblings my oldest brother 
>and I were the only ones that never learned how to play it.  Two of my 
>sisters took lessons for a short time.

Fascinating!  So, do you ever recall any outside hostility toward your family
for using musical instruments, particularly the harmonica, of course?  I ask
because you mentioned no musical instruments are permitted in church services
of your religion, as is traditional.  Excuse me if I pry, but this is in part
because I was not aware of your Amish background before going into this.  ;)

>   In my younger years I did not really given much thought to the whys of
>many of the rules of our church.  That is just how it was.  

Yes, just how it is with most of us when we're young, I should think!  

>I do know that I had a radio, as a kid and would listen to WWVA on 
>Friday nights, and there was a harmonica player on the jamboree, 
>and I loved the sound he made.

Wow!!!  I've gotta say, Doyle, you're giving me a totally different viewpoint
with respect to our Amish friends!  Was it that harmonica player who inspired
you to play?  And what style?  Do you play music nowadays with others and/or
other instruments?

>Yes some of the Mennonite congregations do play pianos, in their services.
>It could be that the harmonica was considered a "humble" instrument of
>music, that could be hid, as it were.

Perhaps I'll go along with the "humbleness", as in plain and simple the way
many people consider the harmonica, but not the aspect of concealability,
which I would think might seem clandestine in nature and go against religious
attitudes.  The utility of portability that Cara noted would make sense, too.

>Or maybe it's cuz we call 'em harps!!!  ;)
>That sounds as good as any reason.

Ah, I think you're being kindly tolerant to my flippancy! :)  Thanks... hope
I didn't offend.  I do just think it ironically interesting that such an
emotive and truly complicated [for its size] instrument as is the harmonica
might be one of the few instruments accepted in a religion which extols the
virtues of simplicity, humility and restraint.  Proof you just can never
judge a book by its cover, or a person, religion, or musical instrument

Thanks for your thoughtful follow-up, Doyle.

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