The Apprenticeship Series Begins

If you’re visiting the Harp Surgery, chances are better than good that you’ve made that crucial transition from being a harmonica owner to a harmonica player.

You might have come to realise – however late in the game – that those reeds are supposed to be bent, and now you have to figure out how. Or maybe you’ve been bending for a while and can hit a Bb on or a C# on a C harp with perfect ease – but you still can’t make that sucker sing like a bluesbird. Or perhaps you’d like to explore new positions, trying to unlock the first-position treasures of Big Walter Horton or build up an arsenal of third-position riffs. Hell, maybe you just want to learn a fox chase.

Well, hello friends. My name’s Murray Elwood, and I’m one of you. Guys like the Good Doctor can say they’ve been there and done that; like you, I’m still there and I’m still trying to get it done.

If the Good Doctor is a harpmaster coming from the Baby Boomer generation, I’m one of the young players emerging from Generation Y. In the last few years, massive shifts in technology have made it vastly easier for students to access quality harmonica teaching material, and it’s also a helluva lot easier for quality teachers to broadcast their stuff to the world. Even since 2007 the landscape appears to have blossomed, and like many of you, I’ve been learning at the feet of Web 2.0 bluesmen like the Good Doctor, Adam Gussow, Dave Barrett, and Jason Ricci. In the last year and a half, my playing has advanced in leaps, bounds, and occasional stumbles. Sometimes it doesn’t appear to be advancing at all.

So as the Good Doctor said, I’m going to be using this forum to share anecdotes of my apprenticeship, beginner’s treasures I’ve stumbled upon, and a few words of warning about the potholes that lie in the road ahead. Perhaps you’ll learn from my mistakes. More likely you’ll just identify with them. The point is that we’re in this together, friends, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Whatever. Enjoy.

Elwood is the guest blogger for The Harp Surgery’s Apprenticeship Series. In his spare time he’s a grad student in London. Follow him on Twitter, if you like.

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