1:1 Harmonica Tuition
Tuition is available in person at The Harp Surgery in Hove (UK), or remotely by Skype & Zoom. Email me an outline of what you’d like to achieve and I will contact you to arrange your first session. Every student receives their own Drop Box folder, where tabs, mp3s and exercises are stored for easy reference wherever you have WiFi access. For a schedule of current lesson dates click here.
Skype & Zoom Lessons
I’ve coached students from Orkney to Cape Town using Skype and Zoom. We simply agree a time for our session and outline of what you want to cover in advance. You then transfer payment in ahead of the lesson and we’re ready to rock. My Skype address is bloozmeister.
10 Lesson courses
If you can commit to ten sessions in advance, you are eligible for the 10% discount rate. You pay for 9 lessons and I deliver one more free of charge. Course payment is in full, in advance and is non-refundable. Once you’ve paid for the course in advance, we can book lesson dates as we proceed week to week and complete the schedule to a mutually convenient timetable. You don’t have to commit to regular weekly slots, and we’ll keep a diary on line for reference. Once the first lesson is taken however, we much complete the course within six months.
I’m afraid I don’t offer shared sessions because individual progress is asymmetrical, and I’ve found that one students invariably gives up along the way. I do run group workshops however. You can find workshop information in the side menu.
I will set up a Drop Box (cloud folder) for you, where we can place tabs, exercises and mp3 files, and keep your music diary. This is your own personal harmonica space, and you can access it remotely whenever you need.
Rates (1:1 lessons)
Adults: 60 mins £35.00
Juniors (4-15 yrs): 30 mins £20.00 / 45 mins £25.00 / 60 mins £30.00
Course of 10 lessons: pay for 9 get 1 free
Rates (Skype & Zoom)
Adults: 60 mins £30.00
Juniors (4-15 yrs): 30 mins £16.00 / 45 mins £22.00 / 60 mins £27.00
Lessons must be paid for in advance by bank transfer (R W Steele-Taylor, 11-91-00, 02278276) or PayPal (paypal.me/harpsurgery).
Sometimes harmonica lessons are treated casually, with no-shows or last minute cancellations. I accept that unexpected changes happen, however it’s good to get as much notice as possible. I’d prefer not to be left in limbo, having booked you into my diary and rescheduled other work. Cancellations must be made a minimum 48 hours in advance. The full lesson fee will be forfeited for no-shows and same-day cancellations.
Our sessions will be lively, fun and tailored to your needs. My pledge is that you’ll leave knowing something new, or able to execute a core skill you couldn’t when you arrived. We’ll balance technique learning, theory and exercises with repertoire you enjoy. There are a number of tutorial books we can work from if you wish.
Your first session
Your first session will involve a few minutes of diagnostic work. We’ll then map out key areas for development, picking tunes and exercises to get you there. You will be given breathing and key skill-building exercises to develop as warm ups and a small amount of homework after each session. So you’ll need some time and space to practice without interruption.
There are a number of core skills necessary to progress from beginner to intermediate and advanced levels. These include chugging, single notes, tone, scales, trills, hand effects, intervals, bends, tongue blocking and overblows. If you already have these skills, we can look into positional playing and musical styles (blues, funk, jazz, country, folk, classical, reggae, latin etc). We can also build your performance portfolio with tougher pieces and dip into crossover technique on the Chromatic harmonica.
I am a member of, and local representative for, the National Harmonica League (NHL), HTAB accredited and CRB/DBS certified. In 1999 I was awarded UK National Harmonica Champion. I am Managing Director of Harp Academy, which provides harmonica lessons in Sussex Primary Schools, and Co-Producer of Brighton’s annual harmonica festival Harpin’ By The Sea. As a member of the Musicians Union, I have third party insurance and legal representation. I am also first aid trained. I have been playing and performing the diatonic harmonica since the 1970’s, organising workshops, charity events, blues jams and performances at countless live venues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the diatonic harmonica?
It’s the short 10 hole harmonica. Sometimes referred to as the ‘blues harp’, it comes in a variety of brands including Hohner, Lee Oskar, Hering, Huang, Seydel Söhne, Bushman and Suzuki.
Do you teach Chromatic harmonica?
Apart from the third position blues theory for the diatonic and chromatic note layouts, no, I don’t teach Chromatic (slide or push button) harmonica. But I can refer you to a specialist who does.
What do I need to bring?
A diatonic harmonica in the key of C, a note book and pen, any tutorial manuals you may have been using, your ears and a sense of adventure. Plus your lesson fee paid in advance.
That sounds expensive..?
Enquirers do say this occasionally. It’s usually followed by, I had a lesson once for £20.00, or could you do me an hour and a half for £30.00? Let’s consider this further, because everything is relative. And first of all the answer is that the rates advertised above are non-negotiable.
I do appreciate what’s affordable for one person is prohibitive for the next. However, please consider how much you’d have to pay for private driving lessons, piano lessons, private exam tutoring or a course of adult education. Learning harmonica is no different with a reputable and experienced teacher. At Harp Surgery you will benefit from an equitable level of service, provided by a Musicians Union member who charges you MU teaching rates. These can very readily be checked online.
Going back to the £20.00 an hour teacher, after further probing, it usually turns out he was always late, didn’t have a harp to his name and disappeared from the face of the planet shortly after the first, and only, lesson. Which all happened over ten years ago. And is why the student got in touch with Harp Surgery. Caveat emptor.
How often are lessons?
As often as you like. For comparison, I find that Beginners and those with specific pieces to master like learn on a weekly basis. However, the majority of students opt for a two week schedule (twice a month).