Re: [Harp-L] does anybody NEED another book on playing Chromatic Harmonica?
I tend to agree that for the most part the instructional books are pretty much
the same, some better than others. I've given music lessons for many, many
years and sometimes I come across a student who just "gets it" and they essentially
have the "gift". They have that right combination of understanding, memory,
technique and talent that with the right kind of training and encouragement,
results in a very, very gifted artist. Then there are the students that have
to struggle and work at it but some of them also become those gifted artists.
Having a real good teacher and the right kind of instructional materials sometimes
makes all the difference. Other times, it just doesn't seem to matter.
I think there is always room in the world for yet another instructional manual,
otherwise there wouldn't be so many and for harmonica there just really isn't
that much good material out there. I do have to say, with all the instructional
material that I've looked at over the years, I believe I've come across a few that
I recommend to any students I work with:
- Max De Aloe's book - this is more recent but I have to say it is one of the better
ones out there
- Richard Hunters Jazz Harp book - this one does have the etudes in the back that
are very helpful
- Winslow Yerxa's books - both the Harmonica for Dummies and the Blues Harmonica for Dummies
and there's a little more chromatic instruction in the latter
- Dave Gage's website has good chromatic harmonica instruction sections
- Alan "Blackie" Schackner's Chromatic Harmonica book - still one of the older and good books
- Doug Tate's book
- Tommy Morgan's book
- Jon Gindick's Rock n'Blues book - still the best most enjoyable book on diatonic that I've come
- David Barrett's Mel Bay books - also some of the best materials available, and his website
is well designed and very good for instruction
- Steve Baker's Harp Handbook - this is also a great book for instruction but also more of the
technical aspects for maintaining and customizing harps
- Again Winslow Yerxa's books belong here too
That's my two cents worth. I could go on longer but the ones above are the ones that I've
had the most success with with students.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Rubin" <michaelrubinharmonica@xxxxxxxxx>
To: "Steve Molitor" <stevemolitor@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "Harp-L" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>, "JON KIP" <jon@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 9:42:07 AM
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] does anybody NEED another book on playing Chromatic Harmonica?
People who have an aptitude for understanding how an instrument and music
works seem to have a hard time understanding how difficult it is for people
without that aptitude. You, John Kip, seem to be falling into that trap.
Your argument seems to say, "Chromatic is easy! Look, I can do it! So,
therefore it's easy for everyone."
What we need is a chromatic book written by someone who has taught many
students with low aptitude for learning chromatic, who has learned by trial
and error how to explain things to people who for whatever reason have a
hard time understanding things.
It is one of my lifetime goals to write such a book, but to be honest, I am
finding very little time for writing nowadays. Perhaps when my kids get
older I will knock one out. I am sure John Kip will look at it and say,
"This is pointless, chromatic is easy. What a waste of paper, time and
energy." But I believe if I or someone else writes the correct chromatic
instruction book, it will up the game for people who want to learn it but
would otherwise have a difficult time.
On Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 10:05 AM, Steve Molitor <stevemolitor@xxxxxxxxx>
> Jon I totally agree with you 98.7%. You're 10 times the musician I am and
> you know all of this but:
> There would be some very minor advantages to a chromatic etude book. A
> good etude book is progressive in that it gets harder gradually. This
> keeps the student progressing without getting bogged down and frustrated
> too early. What's difficult on one instrument can be easy on another and
> vice versa. There's a reason why, for example, oboe players mostly use
> oboe books and not flute books. The ranges are different sure, but it's
> not just that.
> On most woodwinds playing on the high end is difficult - very different
> fingerings, embouchure, etc. So a beginning or intermediate flute etude
> book will shy away from the third octave for a while. But on harmonica
> that's easy, might as well start working the third octave pretty early.
> Except for maybe hole 12 and the high D - might want to hold off on
> introducing that until the student is solid in the standard patterns.
> Conversely, certain trills and ornaments that are very easy on the flute
> are fiendishly difficult on the harmonica. So you might want to hold of on
> those for a bit.
> Case in point, the very first C major etude in the oboe book I'm using has
> a grace note turn that's a flick of the finger on the oboe but fiendishly
> difficult on the harmonica. Being the stubborn mule that I am I refused to
> move on to the next etude for a few weeks until I mastered that. But
> really it would have been better to skip the turn for the time being and
> come back to it in a few months. But then I'd be afraid I'd forget and
> never come back to it....
> The easiest way to write a good chromatic etude book would be to take a
> public domain flute book and adapt it. Take some stuff up an octave to
> start working the whole range early on, remove some of those tricky trills
> early on but make sure to add them back in later etudes, augment it with
> some studies focusing on interval jumps, octaves, maybe some double stops.
> You wouldn't need any text, prose or essays in the book - just notes.
> But all of that is pretty easy to do on your own - so I take it back I
> guess I 99.56% agree with you.
> On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 1:23 PM, JON KIP <jon@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > I've just been avoiding life and cleaning dishes today, by reading some
> > posts over on the chromatic harmonica site, from which I'm gratefully
> > banned from posting, (a great time-saver for me,)
> > I'm disturbed just a bit about the numbers of people who say "we NEED a
> > good book on chromatic harmonica, let's annoy Winslow enough that he
> > convinces his publisher to publish another book, even if they lose
> > money...".
> > There is NO need for another book on the instrument. What people mean is
> > "Gee I'm not as good as I want to be, instead of logically practicing,
> > go look for a book to help me."
> > That's just silly. Avoidance at its best.
> > Playing chromatic harmonica is, in theory, a very simple thing. In
> > practice, however, it takes......er......Practice.
> > You find the right hole
> > you blow or you draw
> > you realize that there are several ways to play certain notes, and you
> > figure out which would be easier in the particular passage you're trying
> > play..the other silly things about the instrument, you learn to live
> > (The "If Toots can do it on the same instrument, then it's possible, so
> > not give it a try,? approach.)
> > for the adventurous (usually not me), you learn what double and triple
> > stops work....(all the chromatic harmonica books have them)
> > you practice long tones, just like a real musician on most any instrument
> > does.
> > You learn that every piece of music is really just ONE LONG NOTE, divided
> > up into tiny, sometimes, annoying, and difficult, bits and pieces, some
> > silent and some less silent....and they all count as music.
> > Then you practice for X hours a day for ten years and go play you some
> > music and hope that some very elderly person in your family, after
> living a
> > great life for well over 96 years, dies and leaves you some money, since
> > you won't make much playing harmonica.
> > But when you die, Nobody will have to say "Gee what a great person he/she
> > was, but what do we do with all these redundant books on chromatic
> > harmonica?"
> > Buy any one of the beginning chromatic harmonica books as a reference if
> > you want, and then buy some flute or oboe studies....
> > And do not, under any circumstances, put the little indications on the
> > flute/oboe music regarding hole number, wind direction, slide position
> > so on.
> > Actually, perhaps DO put those hieroglyphics in the books, but
> > take the books and quietly (shh! it's a library!!) and secretlly put them
> > in the local library's Flute Study bookcase, just to confuse the flute
> > players....yeah, that's a good idea.
> > there is nothing really complicated about the chromatic harmonica.
> > that's why it's so difficult to master.
> > jk
> > 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.
> > http://jonkip.com
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