[Harp-L] Jim's Engineer Brain....I'll fly away....

> Excellent points.  I agree - and you sound like my harmonica teacher  "You got to play what's inside you."!   :-)

> Being an engineer by trade, it's very hard to turn the brain off and turn my soul on. 

It's probably better to not turn the brain off, for now, at least. USUALLY, only the most advanced players do that with any regularity, and,  a la Kenny Werner's book about Effortless Mastery, "just let the music come out." 

Your harmonica teacher is correct, but perhaps his/her timing is off. 

You need tools first. 

And to, engineer-like, figure some stuff out. You're good at that. Don't believe it when your brain says that's not part of music. It is.

One of the hardest places to work on the things you're asking about  is with the harmonica. It's not visual.

The very best place to do that is with a piano, keyboard....something where you can SEE better than on a harmonica, where you can only hear.

Then you just sit at the keyboard, learn some basic chords and a melody or two, and see how you are at improvising "runs, fills" and so on. Your trusted ears will let you know.

Then, you can visualize the piano as you play harmonica licks...

And, it's possible that your harmonica teacher can play enough piano to get you started, or start yourself.

So start with adding bit of piano. That slight detour will speed up your harmonica improvising and open up possibilities that others will not think of. 

That's a fact.

I realize that I've made some assumptions about you and your history here, but some of this might help. 

Email if you have questions. I've gone thru this with my own playing (45 yrs professional studio woodwind player, and now, in retirement, an amateur jazz chromatic harmonica player), and with some students, and for them, and for me, the piano really helps.

You don't need facility on the piano, just eyes and ears.... 

And you don't have to dress like Liberace while at the piano, unless you really want to... 

If your next question is "Who was Liberace" ...you're young and Google is your friend.


The philosopher Socrates, discovered to his dismay that he was the smartest person in Athens merely because he, and he alone, recognized how ignorant he was.

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