News and Views
Friday, April 07, 2006 4:30:00 PM
I had the pleasure of attending a Dennis Gruenling/Allen Holmes Jam Class (harmonica workshop/lesson/jam) last Wednesday night in DC at the old Archie Edwards barbershop. It was the first workshop I've gone to, having taught myself blues harp through trial and error, and I was very impressed with the level of instruction and techniques shown in short span of 4 hours. There was also an impromptu jam session where we all got to take a 12-bar solo. I missed a lot by not taking the instrument seriously when I started. When I learned guitar, I played endless scales and patterns to improve speed, knowledge, and improvisational ability, but when I learned harmonica, I just started playing along with songs right away. The problem with that method is that I don't know how to play a simple scale, even though I can play along with almost anything by Little Walter or Big Walter. One of the handouts from Allen was a listing of the blues scales in all harmonica positions, which will be handy for drilling on techniques. Allen displayed a huge knowledge of the instrument and relating music theory to it. Also, Dennis covered tongue-blocking extensively, and opened up a whole new can of worms for me to get a handle on. I'll definitely be going to more of these and recommend it to anyone interested in the harmonica.
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