[Harp-L] Learn 6 positions first year


I think it absolutely makes sense to teach a beginner multiple positions. Playing in multiple positions is nothing different than playing the instrument in multiple keys, which is something beginners on other instruments do all the time as a matter of course. The worst that can happen is that the student will start thinking like a musician instead of thinking like a harmonica player.

There are multiple advantages to learning multiple positions at an early stage, not the least of which is learning to get around on the instrument, what notes are found where, understanding the relationships between relative majors and minors, learning common breath patterns that apply to different scales in different keys, getting comfortable playing the whole harp, and being able to handle a wider variety of material. Not to mention that the the blues scale and minor pentatonic scale are most easily learned/played in third position without having to learn to intonate bends--IMHO, proper intonation can be more effectively taught after the beginner learns what these scales are supposed to sound like by learning them in third before having to learn to intonate in second.

So many instructional materials only deal with first, second and third position or treat 4th 5th and 12th positions very briefly characterizing them as "advanced" and "rarely used" which is B.S. None of these positions is any more difficult to learn than another. For example, the skill set for playing 5th is IDENTICAL to the skill set for playing 2d. The only difference is that a player can't go around bending randomly in 5th like so many tend to do in 2d. But learning a little bending discipline is by no means a bad thing. It gets the beginner playing NOTES instead of holes and bends.

So, yeah, I'd start a beginner out learning the do-re-mi scale in first position, then move him to third position and then to second at the very earliest stages of instruction. Then, they already have the skill sets to eventually move on to 4th (which is essentially similar to 1st, 5th which is like 2d and 12th which is like 3rd). By moving the player around between 1st, 3rd and 2d at the very outset the concept of multiple position playing is learned early and the student won't be intimated moving on to 4th, 5th and 12th as he or she progresses. It would be teaching them to play the harmonica as a musical instrument which, after all, is what it is, isn't it?


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