Hello from eEl Cajon,CA

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Hank Hamilton Hank Hamilton 1 year ago.

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  • #11854
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Hi I’m Bill and I am wanting to learn the harmonic before my Alzheimer’s takes control. I think that I will able to continue practicing , and playing a few years, at least until I turn 80 in six years.

    #11856
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Hi there Bill. I’m Hank and I also want to learn the harmonica, but not before I turn 80, ’cause I am already 80; will turn 81 in November. Anyway, Bill, good for you. It is a great instrument, not so easy to play though just because it is small; but Mitch has a terrific program here so you will get along just fine. Practice helps some too. I hope you will keep us informed as to how you are progressing.

    I also live in California, but up in the Northern section near South Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s a bit smokey up this way at the moment.

    Hank Hamilton

    #11859
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Hello Hank glad to meet you. Sorry about all the smoke up there,, it is sad for what is going on in northern Ca. I am happy to find out there is someone else that’s gone an extra mile or two before learning to play the harmonica. It’s been a struggle, but I am learning. I am having issues trying to bend notes, and in hopes of getting there through these lessons. I am starting from the beginning so that I learn what Mitch wants us to learn.
    I thank you for giving a shout, I will post on my progression. Take care
    Bill

    #11861
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Hey Bill, just a couple of comments here and some unsolicited advice:
    I am not particularly new to the harmonica as I have tried to learn to play this thing several times over a 50 year period, only to lay it aside in frustration each time. This time is a bit different; I started again back in May of 2018, and I seem to be making some progress tho slow it is for sure.

    Most people experience troubles with learning to bend notes in the beginning. Just knowing this can be a big help to you. Keep at it and you will get it, guaranteed.

    One suggestion is to try to bend each of the draw notes from holes 1-6 (hole 5 only bends slightly). Some holes are easier to bend than others, but this is different for each person. The 1 and 4 holes were easier for me, I still have trouble with the 3 hole bends; mainly with playing them in-tune.

    I shared some bending advice in the Forum that was given to me way back in the beginning; I found it to be helpful. Go into the Forum and search for post #11791, or do a search for Hank Hamilton. I think you will find it to be as helpful as it was for me. Be encouraged to ask questions; this Forum should be ,and can be a good source of encouragement, I think.
    Hank H

    #11863
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Good morning Hank, thank you for the tips and info. I am always open for tips and comments, though sometimes I may be slow to reply. One big, big problem I have that slows me down is that test show that I have early stage of Alzheimer’s. I am doing all I can to keep my brain active, and this is one of them. That is why I mentioned that I wanted to be able to play by the time I am 80, and who knows I may still be playing when I am 90.

    Sounds like you are making good progress, and like you said, “practice, practice.
    I’ve started at step one so that I do not miss anything that I haven’t learned yet..
    ok Hank have a good day
    Bill

    #11864
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    And good morning to you, Bill.

    FYI: You don’t have to wait til you are 80 to play the harmonica. You can already play it. At least you can already play what are able to play right now. This advice is meant for me too since I seem to always want to be better than I am right now.

    Here is a little thing I did awhile back for my own amusement; you might get a chuckle from it as well. Note: I just wanted the link to appear here but for some reason the whole file with picture and all appears. If anyone can advise me how to just cope and paste the link only I will appreciate it.

    Hank

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Hank Hamilton Hank Hamilton.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Hank Hamilton Hank Hamilton.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Hank Hamilton Hank Hamilton.
    #11869
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    My apologies Bill, and All,

    I didn’t intend to post the audio clip in this manner. I just wanted the link to appear. Ah well.

    Hank

    #11910
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Hello Bill,
    How is the harmonica going for you bill; haven’t heard anything from you for awhile so I thought I would check in.

    I am continuing to work my way through the Lick of the Week series of 47 Licks; doing them slowly. If you are interested and want some help to get started, glad to assist.

    Hank H

    #11918
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Hi Hank, I wanted to send a message to you this morning then my grandson came in and never got back on track.

    Thank you very much Hank I’ve been struggling with the bends, so haven’t been getting anywhere fast. I sit down and practice three times a day, and not to much luck. If I could get 1&2, then I would try to move on. I’ve paid good attention to what Mitch and you have said, and listen to everyone else on the internet. I know I’ll make it, but darn it anyway.

    So anything that you might think of, I’m listening.

    Bill

    #11919
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Bill,

    It can take a long time for some of us to be able to bend notes. Stick with it, you will get it. One thing you should do is to try out your bends on each hole 1-6. Don’t stick to just one or two holes.

    Here are some notes on bending I made in the forum, I include them here, with some editing, so you can look at them all together:

    Bending Notes

    August 6, 2018

    Most people experience troubles with learning to bend notes in the beginning. Just knowing this can be a big help to you. Keep at it and you will get it, guaranteed.

    One suggestion is to try to bend each of the draw notes from holes 1-6 (hole 5 only bends slightly). Some holes are easier to bend than others, but this is different for each person. The 1 and 4 holes were easier for me, I still have trouble with the 3 hole bends; mainly with playing them in-tune. Hole 2 was troublesome at first but is fairly easy now.

    August 9, 2018
    I learned a couple of things early on about the bending process. A friend who played suggested that I whistle a high pitched note and then to slowly lower the pitch of the note to as low a note as I could, all the while paying attention to what the tongue was doing, and more importantly what the tip of the tongue was doing. You will notice that the tip of the tongue is initially, (when on the high note), up close behind the lower teeth. As you lower the pitch of the whistled note, it, the tip of the tongue, slowly moves away from the teeth, downwards and back towards the base of the tongue. Do this a few times all the while noticing what the tip of the tongue is doing.

    When you bend a note on the harp, the tip of the tongue goes through the same motion and somewhere in that motion the tongue is in the right spot to produce a bent note. Now the problem is that the position of the tongue is critical, it must be in just the right spot to produce the bent note; and that position is different for each hole. What this means is that if your tongue is too far back or too far forward in the mouth to begin with, you will never get the reed to bend. Or if you move the tongue backwards too quickly, you might move it right past the spot where the bend can occur. This is especially critical on the 6 draw bend where the movement of the tongue is so small.

    For those who can already bend notes, you can test this out very easily on a hole where you know how to produce the bent note. Start out with the tip of the tongue up close behind the lower teeth. Start to draw in and very slowly move the tongue down and back. Do not stop when the bent note has been produced, but continue to draw in air as before and continue moving the tongue backwards. The bent note will be lost and the pitch will rise back to its normal pitch.

    So just be very conscious of where the tip of the tongue is and move very slowly. I hope this helps you out as it did me. Hank Hamilton

    More on bending:

    Bending notes depends very much on the shape of the mouth cavity and the shape the tongue makes.
    There are couple of sounds you can articulate that may bring about the beginnings of the bent note.

    Do these without and with the harmonica in your mouth:

    As you draw in, as you inhale,
    Say, articulate: eee – yew (yew as in you)
    Say, articulate: eee – ew (ew as in the sound of do, i.e do this, do that).
    Notice what the tongue and the jaw are doing as you make these sounds.
    Try it first without the harmonica, then with it.

    Be alert for any change at all in pitch or sound.
    Also, be sure to try everything on each and every hole, 1-6.

    Also, if you have access to harmonicas in another key, try them out:
    The D harp is easier to bend notes on; not sure why but it is so.

    Let me know if any of this helps. Sometimes when reading something for the 2nd or third time it becomes clearer.

    Hank Hamilton

    #11923
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Thank you again Hank for your information on bending. I do try to bend each hole, I think # 2 is starting to come in, # 1 is changing some now. #3&6 not yet.. #4 is my best.
    I am open for anything that will get through this.
    Thanks again Hank
    Bill

    #11924
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    I think you should pat yourself on the back, Bill. It took me a lot longer to get my first bends; months and months of frustration. And the #4 hole was my first bend also. Hole #6 is also easy to bend but people have trouble with it early on due to the tiny amount of tongue movement needed to produce the bend. It takes awhile to develope the control necessary to get the 6 hole bend.

    As Mitch says, Keep on harpin’,
    Hank

    #11961
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Hello Bill, time for an update mebbe. How are the bends coming along? As you have been told before now, learning to bend notes can take a long time; longer for some than for others. And it can take a lot longer to learn to play the bent notes in tune, especially on holes 2 and 3.
    I know a couple of great, simple exercises for learning to play the whole step bends on holes 2 and 3 in tune if you are interested.
    Hank

    #11962
    Bill Campbell
    Bill Campbell
    Participant

    Hi Han,, how is it going in the smoky mountain. Hope that is all over for this year.
    Yes I am interested in more tips, I need all the help I can get. Right now my COPD has gone up a couple notches, and is keeping away from playing. I haven’t gotten any further with the bends
    Thank you very much
    Bill

    #12014
    Hank Hamilton
    Hank Hamilton
    Participant

    Bill, I am home after our 1 month trip from California to Pennsylvania and back; great trip and so happy to be home again.
    About bending frustrations; same thing over and over – learning to bend notes can take a long time, longer for some than for others. You just have to stick with it and keep trying despite the sense of not making any progress.
    You say you want help; here is what I suggest: make a recording of your attempts at bending. For example, record yourself playing the bending exercises in Steps 5 and 6. If I or someone else in Mitch’s Course can hear what you can do now, some helpful tips may be provided. So record your bending attemps and post the recording in the new Audio forum Mitch started a month ago. I just looked and no one has posted anything in it as yet, so you could be the first.

    If you need some help with recording let me know. I have attached a file with contact info if you want to do so.

    Hnak

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