In addition to my usual New Year’s Resolutions of win the lottery and be less bald, I decided that this is the year that I learn to play the harmonica. I’m sure that every Faithful Reader out there who doesn’t play the harmonica is wondering why on earth someone would want to do this and I’d really like to tell you, but the truth is that I don’t really know. I have always liked the sound of the “harp” (that’s what the cool kids call it) and unlike my other instrument the saxophone, it doesn’t require a huge case, minutes of setup, and the tweaking of 50 moving pieces.
So I ordered a harmonica and (being a college-educated middle-aged white guy) a book about harmonica playing. Both arrived yesterday and I happily sequestered myself in my room and got to work. 3 chapters (and maybe an hour later) I had mastered holding the harmonica right side up, learned that breathing out and in produced different notes, and that completely unlike the saxophone your first sounds don’t sound like a goose in pain. I also discovered that my Faithful Hound Winston loves the harp as well and is willing to sing along as I learn to play! Who knew he was so musically gifted?
Finally I was ready to practice playing single notes and simple melodies! YES! This is what I want to learn! Confident that with my musical background I would soon be ripping off blues solos of epic proportions, I eagerly turned the page. My first musical assignment? “Hot Crossed Buns.” The Hobbit heard me valiantly try to play this simplest of melodies and while there was no honking, there was quite an interesting collection of chords instead of single notes. She poked her head into the room, watched for a while, and then pointed and laughed maniacally for a whole minute.
I probably deserved that.
I will not be deterred, however. I will master this comically small instrument and realize my dream of finding the most inappropriate tune for every occasion! I have to say that it is equal parts frustrating and fun to try to learn to do something so nonsensical and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if jean overalls are on sale this weekend?