Re: [Harp-L] lessons with Grant Dermody

Grant Dermody writes:

I am now available for skype lessons. With all the traveling I'm doing lately, it's the best way for me to continue teaching, which I love.

I have met many of you at SPAH. If you want to check out my cred, please have a look at my website

I am quite good, among other teaching skills, at helping harmonica players improve their tone and expand their improvisational abilities.

Harmonica players, I'm here to testify that Grant Dermody is the real deal when it comes to playing and teaching how to play the diatonic harmonica. I know because I've been his enthusiastic fan and student for the last 6-7 years. I met Grant at the now defunct Telluride Blues and Brews festival's Acoustic Blues Camp a number of years ago. He was filling the able shoes of the one and only Phil Wiggins as the harmonica teacher that year. I had never heard of Grant and was concerned about how the 4-day camp would go following my incredible experience with Phil. But, I trusted the camp organizer and came into the lessons with an open mind.

Like most folks who meet him, I was immediately struck by Grant's kind, caring attitude and steady, calm demeanor. Grant's the kind of guy you'd just want to hang with; laid back, extremely comfortable in his own skin, fun to be around. Then he picked up a harp. My concerns were immediately erased. The cat can flat blow! The tone, the phrasing, the articulation, the vibrato, the dynamics, he has it all. From fiddle tunes to deep solo acoustic blues, it's all there in abundance. Did I mention tone? It is incredible to sit in front of a guy in a conversational setting who can pick up one of his little Marine Bands and make it sound like a huge, moaning rhinoceros one moment and in an instant a tiny whispering songbird -- right before your very ears. I know of only a handful of players who can do that. I know of only one who offers to teach you how to do it via Skype.

Given the opportunity, you'll quickly realize that Grant is a very well-prepared, experienced teacher who can get difficult points across eloquently and simply. That's partly because in a past life, Grant was a career elementary school teacher. Look at his Facebook page. It is filled with legions of adoring former students. What's pertinent to you is that has he has successfully transferred his amazing classroom teaching skills from the chalkboard to harmonica students of all levels.
From rank beginner to the most advanced player, Grant has an
unbelievably keen ear and can discern things you are doing with your playing that you don't even know you are doing -- and then proscribe a course of exercises to correct any poor habits and keep you on the right track. It is humbling to have Grant make an honest assessment of your harp skills, but it is also necessary because one of the great things about Grant's teaching is his unique ability to design a learning road map tailored to an individual student. He can quickly spot your strengths and your weaknesses and then show you how to improve them. Sometimes it's almost embarrassing when he catches you falling back into old habits and corrects you before you really even know you are doing that wrong "thang" again. In this way, Grant is able to keep you on course to becoming as good a player as you are willing to become. I say willing, because he is able to stay that hare that his little doggie students chase, but never quite catch. He can interchange with a student at any level. It's purely a matter of how much time and effort you are willing/able to invest in your harmonica playing.

If you want a sample of Grant's playing, search YouTube for Grant Dermody. It might interest you to know, if you don't already, that Grant is currently touring and recording with the great bluesman, Eric Bibb. A personal favorite video (mostly because I was there) is
(ignore the bad intro and skip to 1:05).

So, how often do you get the chance to take one-on-one lessons from an internationally touring pro who happens to be a great teacher and a terrific fellow? My only concern is that Grant's teaching schedule will become so full as to make it difficult for me to keep up with my lessons. I guess my little secret is out of the bag...

So, if you want to improve your harmonica playing at any level and learn how to become more "musical" while having fun doing it, don't take my word for it. Try a lesson from Grant Dermody. You'll be back for more fer sure.

Oh, and y'all should pick up a few of Grant's own CD's. Each is a gem in its own right. It's not only blues. If you dig fiddle tunes, check out his "Improbabillies" CD. Terrific. (All can be found on his website, He's on several of Bibb's most recent CD's too.


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