[Harp-L] Re: College music program on harmonica

Suave Blues Man wrote

"Anybody want to get a certified online course going on the Internet from a recognized school?"

Ahem. We're part way there already. I launched Harmonica Academy in 2008, following a similar online program I launched in China in 2006.

The program is broken into 4 "years", Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior. Each year has 20 lessons, each lesson has around a dozen sound files. The program has two streams, blues and traditional tunes. Freshman Year is for beginners, Senior Year is pretty advanced, Sophomore and Junior Years lie in between. There is a tough graduation exam at the end, no-one has attempted it yet. Of course, Harmonica Academy is not certified, nor does it come from a recognised school. However, I suspect that a certified online program would look somewhat like mine, with a better known player.

Details are at http://www.HarmonicaAcademy.com

There is a Spanish version at http://www.armonica.com.es I've made a children's version at http://www.harmonicaforchildren.com

Unlike when I started in 2006, there is now a good selection of excellent online harmonica teaching material. Howard Levy, Dave Barrett, Adam Gussow and Sandy Weltman come to mind.

Regarding widespread harmonica teaching in school programs, like they have in Asia, and like we have with the recorder: there is a fundamental difference between harmonica playing in Asia and the West which influences how it is taught. For us, the harmonica is mostly a solo instrument in a band setting, mostly blues. For the Asians, harmonica is played in groups, some large. Blues is largely unknown, they play set melodies.

So. Teaching a group of school kids how to play blues together on a ten hole would not, in my view, work nearly as well as teaching a group of Asian kids how to play together on tremolos (kids theremostly tremolos play, very few play 10 hole). The Asian harmonica music culture fits well to group teaching and playing, ours does not. The tremolo doesn't require bending, so the major scale notes more easily reached than with the 10 hole. For this reason the tremolo works better than the 10 hole for kids playing tunes together in a classroom teaching situation.

This is my view. I would happily defer to anyone who runs successful school programs for the 10 hole harmonica.

The Asian harmonica teaching system needs teachers, of course. Some of the Asian countries (Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan come to mind) have a system where the elite players teach, their students then become teachers, repeating the cycle. I did a concert tour of Taiwan in 2010, the organiser Mr Lee (from the outstanding Judy's Harmonica Ensemble) had a number of elite pupils who were now teaching. I met them, I also met his teacher at one of the concerts. Three generations were on hand.

For the most part we don't have that in Western countries. Older players are largely self taught. Dave Barrett was the first to formalise blues teaching on a wide scale. His material is great, however it aims to create blues harmonica soloists. It would not easily adapt to group teaching along the the Asian model as far as I can see.

Tony Eyers
...everyone plays

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