Spend any time on an online harmonica players resource or public forum and you will almost always see several posts from beginning players. This is natural as when we begin a new pursuit, our tendency is to use the internet to to get as much information as possible on our new hobby or endeavor. Thankfully, we have the internet where in years past information wasn't so easily available. Unfortunately, the plethora of information encourages far too much of this phenomenon called "crowd sourcing". In other words, new players rely on the readily available responses by internet users instead of seeking the instruction of a known professional.
Every year, literally thousands of harmonicas are sold to novice players who in their excitement about their new musical pursuit, immediately jump on the internet and seek advice from relatively unknown and sometimes anonymous internet users. This is natural and we've all been there. However, we need to put this in perspective. Very few of us would run down to our local music store and purchase a clarinet or grand piano and attempt to learn it via You Tube or Facebook, right? So why is it that so many players believe they will achieve even basic mastery of the harmonica without any instruction?
While it is certainly not something that is limited to the harmonica playing community, I have to admit that I am perplexed as to why it happens to such great extent. I've also always wondered if many of the experts out there giving free tips on the forums were not just a bunch of trumpet players having a laugh at our expense.
I suspect this happens because one can produce a few notes and even a simple melody within a few minutes of picking up a harmonica. For some, it stands to reason that continual improvement will happen with a little advice from some well-meaning harp players (Or trumpeters..!) dwelling on the forums.
From a business perspective, there is an increased expectation that is placed on the manufacturer. Easily 90 % of all maintenance and warranty inquiries I receive as a Seydel technician come from new players who are experiencing basic issues that would have been easily resolved by an instructor. In other words, it is quite frequently a failure of the player and not of the harmonica. All of the manufacturers have suffered the wrath of the new player who incorrectly and unfairly blamed the instrument and took to the internet.
The desire to improve and enjoy music is - and should be - a personal decision.
But I ask you the new player a very simple question; why cheat yourself? Invest in a teacher that can give you direction, technical advice, musical theory, and show you proper technique.
The great thing about the internet is that video chat platforms are plentiful and the harmonica is probably one of the easiest instruments to receive instruction on using this resource. It is true that harmonica instructors are not going to be in every town. However, almost all of them offer SKYPE lessons.
Clearly there is an emergence of some amazing young and newer players who are making great and creative music on the harmonica. There is one common characteristic among all the great players out there. At some point in their musical journey, they experienced skilled instruction. It is that instant feedback and that continual direction combined with disciplined practice that made them great. Why not join them and experience the rewards of incremental mastery. If you would like the names of some great instructors out there, feel free to contact me via my web site or here