Weekly Group Harp Sessions on Zoom!

Come and join the Zoom harmonica gang!

•  Beginners – Wednesdays 6pm-7pm (UK Time)
•  Intermediates – Thursdays 6pm-7pm (UK Time)

STOP PRESS: On 16th and 17th September we will be joined by John Cook, the UK’s leading harmonica technician. Bring along your technical questions and see if our Surgeon General can provide you with the tips and solutions you need.

Visit John Cook’s superb website here.

Zoom
Lesson ID: 914 617 7410
Password: 058464
Download Zoom here.

The Surgery is open
While there may be exercises and topics we are currently working on, don’t let this stop you from joining in. We will ensure you are made to feel welcome. Harp Surgery is about fixing typical problems and investigating the burning issues players encounter. It’s great if you have questions, skills, pieces or other items you’d like us to investigate; when you share, we all benefit!

Voluntary contributions
It does take time to prepare and organise each workshop, so if you enjoy the experience, a donation is always welcome. If you are able to contribute, copy paypal.me/harpsurgery into your browser and donate whatever you consider reasonable. We understand that times are difficult; if you can’t contribute, please join us anyway. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Workshop Resources

•  Optimising Zoom for Music Lessons – Link
•  Harmonica Map – Map
•  Piano Keyboard Map – Map
•  Articulation Map – Map
•  Online Metronome (also available as App for mobile phones) – Link
•  Bend It Better – Link

Beginners – PLEASE HAVE A C HARMONICA READY
We’re working on introductory blues playing, 12 bar blues structure, I-IV-V chord progression, minor pentatonic and blue scale, couplets…
•  Thirds Exercise (in Couplets) – Tab
•  Thirds Exercise (in Triplets) – Tab
•  Quadruplets Exercise – Tab
•  12 Bar Blues introduction – Tab
•  Pentatonic to Blues Scale – Tab
•  Blues Shuffle (Patricia Marcoux) – YouTube Link here
•  Blues Shuffle (Patricia Marcoux) – Tab
•  Blues Shuffle Backing Track –  YouTube Link here
•  Scales & Arpeggios (Aristocats) – Tab

Intermediates – PLEASE HAVE VARIOUS HARMONICA KEYS READY
We’re currently working on Portamento, Octaving and Intervals, I-IV-V chord progression, what to play over the IV chord in a Blues, and third position Blues. We’ll also be tackling Overblow 6B#, Blow Bends and Throat Vibrato, …
•  Breathing Exercise Tab
•  Modulation Exercise Tab
•  I, IV, V Chord progression study: Major Triads, Minor 7th, Minor 3rd Tab
•  Double Crossed and Blue – 3rd Position Study
•  Articulation Points pdf
•  Inchworm (Loesser) (Ostinato 6B# exercise) Tab
•  Jesu Joy (JS Bach) Outro section arpeggio 6B# exercise  Tab
•  Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven) 1st Movement intro arpeggio 4B# exercise Tab
•  Blues Shuffle Backing Track –  YouTube Link here
•  Home Run Hitter high end solo (Jerry Portnoy) – Tab
•  Goin’ Back to Church (The Red Devils) – Tab

Why Is 2 Draw So Difficult?

I think my harmonica’s broken…

When learning to play individual notes for the first time, 2 draw (2D) is often the hardest reed to master. We frequently receive emails asking, is it me or is there something wrong with my harmonica? It may not be what you want to hear, but the short answer is, it ain’t the harp! OK, point of order, we have had one occasion in the last fifteen years when the instrument was at fault, but there have been a couple of blue moons since then.

2D is a long old reed, which swings through a big slot as we play it. Picture in your mind a spring diving board, fixed at one end and unfettered at the other. The reed and the diving board behave in the same way. Consider also, the fact that 2D shares a chamber with 2B, another long reed in another big old slot. These two reeds are in constant interaction, working as a pair. So we expend a lot of air when we work in hole 2 and it can feel like we’re running out of breath really quickly.

Add to this the flexibility of the reeds themselves. With a choice of one natural and two bent positions, 2D is very sensitive to changes in air pressure. When we try to play 2D for the first time, it can sound mangled or flat, but don’t panic. Alternatively, despite our best efforts, it can simply not respond at all. At the same time we seem to be inflating much faster than when we play the neighbouring holes.

Fear not, this is a really common experience. So let’s look into things together and see if we can help you overcome an important hurdle in every harmonica player’s development. It’s a short process and we promise you it will be painless. Kim followed our advice and look what happened to her! (more…)

Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 1)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

Owzat!

Split Rivitt - Soul LimboThe Good Doctor found himself in San Francisco, the morning after England had pulled off their 2009 Ashes victory against Australia at The Oval. For those unfamiliar with this particular competition, we will go no further than to say it is a bi-annual cricket tournament played exclusively between two great Commonwealth rivals. Poms against Ozzies. On a world scale, the patriotic fervour runs disproportionately high. On a local level however, thousands of cricket fans tune their radios in and will every ball to swing their way. To partake is a birth-right. To draw is acceptable. To win is sublime.

Split Rivitt - Chris Warren, David Lyttelton, Dave Wilgrove, Barney Jeffrey, Mark HughesFrom his hotel bathroom, the Good Doctor could be heard preparing for the day ahead, humming Soul Limbo by Booker T. & The MGs. For years it had been the iconic theme music to the BBC’s evening Test Match Special programme. In the olden days, all summer long and across the nation, mothers were inadvertently swaying their hips to its tropical rhythm from behind their ironing boards. Meanwhile, fathers switched on the telly, then took to the settee with their pipe, slippers, a bottle of pale ale and an innate comprehension of cricketing’s complexities. Today of course the domestic scene is very different. Fathers vape to Sky Sports, while mothers limbo under the ironing board, swig craft gin and surf Netflix.

Listen to

Rinsing his toothbrush and still humming, the Good Doctor’s thoughts were arrested by the memory of a school mate slapping a shiny sliver of black vinyl onto the common room turntable, then grinning ear to ear as a raunchy harmonica version of Soul Limbo belted out through the stereo speakers. It was an irreverent piece of R&B; punky, zestful and hip.

(more…)

Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 2)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

Limbering up
Booker T. & The M.G.'s* - Soul-Limbo (1968, Vinyl) | DiscogsIn 1968, the soul label Stax broke away from its parent Atlantic. The first album to be released on the independent Stax label was Soul Limbo, featuring the instrumental of the same name, by“Unofficially the MGs were named after the band leader’s car”Booker T. & The MGs. The band’s leader was Booker T.Jones (Hammond Organ). Officially The MGs was short for The Memphis Group, comprising Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson Jnr (drums). Unofficially the MGs were named after the band leader’s car. Booker T. himself has corroborated this piece of trivia. His earlier outfit was called the Triumphs. Clearly he had a penchant for British roadsters.

Listen to

Collectively of course, Booker T. & The MGs backed all the soul greats including Wilson PickettEddie Floyd and Sam & Dave. Indeed their names are often credited as the co-songwriters. In the 1960s, two white musicians working deep inside the heart of a black music phenomenon was unusual. Cropper and Dunn later formed the nucleus of the Blues Brothers Band.

(more…)

Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 3)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

The Venue, London

Split the bill
‘We did start a studio album together, but I wasn’t happy with what was going on so I walked out. They said they’d produce it themselves. I told them, you’ll see what happens, knowing full well they were unaware of all the pitfalls. Mark ‘Harpdog’ Hughes also played Chromatic. He was a normal kind of guy. Probably the quietest and most sensible band member. My studio notes show he was playing through a Shure Echo microphone. I think we added more harp on top and bounced it all down. I seem to remember asking him to harmonise and layer it. We were aiming at our own wall of sound. I think the end result stands on its own merit without impinging on the original.’

Listen to

‘The track never truly got the exposure it deserved because the distributor, Pinnacle, got into financial difficulty. But it was on BBC Radio 1’s A list and got a lot of airplay. In fact it charted briefly in the top 20. I don’t know how the track was chosen originally. I have always been a big Booker T. fan, so maybe I had something to do with it. Anyway I love off-the-wall stuff. I once recorded the Dambusters Theme with a Punk Band and tried to sell it to the Germans. It didn’t get very far.’ (more…)

Weekly Zoom Harmonica Special Guests

TWO VERY SPECIAL GUESTS JOINED US IN JULY

Patricia Marcoux - YouTubeWed 29.July 2020: Patricia Marcoux (Canada)
Our Beginners were joined by the wonderful Patricia Marcoux, live from Canada. Patricia recently released a YouTube video called Blues Shuffle, which has greatly inspired our group, and she very kindly agreed to join us, offering an insight into her music and the harmonica skills she uses in her video.

Patrica first took up harmonica as a second instrument at college in 2000. Moving on to the University of Quebec to study piano and violin, the harmonica took a back seat for the next twenty years. The Covid-19 pandemic changed things and within months Patricia was playing harmonica once again and became a Seydel Söhne endorser. Visit Patricia here.

Thur 30.July 2020: Joe Filisko (USA)
Our advanced players have recently been exploring how to make it to the top end of the diatonic harmonica, and what to do when you get there. Following some in-depth studies, one question still remained: how do you play regular blow bends when tongue blocking? There was only one person we could turn to who could explain this Jedi-level technique.

Live from Chicago, Joe Filisko joined us and shared his amazing expertise in this area, gently delivering us into the promised land, whereupon one or two of our group started to discover and harness this important new skill. Visit Joe Filisko.

We hope to bring you more special guests in the coming months. In the meantime, don’t be shy. Come and meet our group, share your experiences and talk about all things harmonica down at the Harp Surgery.