Harmonica Collective in Indianapolis

Originally posted April 2013

I’m looking forward to attending the Harmonica Collective workshop in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks!

It’s a three-day, four-night event featuring specialists in blues, jazz, Celtic, and harp tech, including Jason Ricci, Michael Peloquin, Richard Sleigh, James Conway, and the author of Harmonica For Dummies, Winslow Yerxa.

What do I hope to gain from going to a harmonica conference? Well, to start with, top-secret harmonica information I can’t even anticipate, because I’m not one of the Illuminati (yet). I do have goals in a few different areas, though.

Overblows: Several of the teachers are top OB practitioners. Hopefully they can give me some pointers or perspective after they hear me play.

Tongue Blocking: I play fiddle tunes (and most other music) using a pucker embouchure. I tongue block a bit, throwing in octaves and tongue slaps, and I’ve worked pretty extensively on using TB to play drones behind melodies. I’d like to get started on some corner switching for melodies that have big jumps and arpeggio figures. Vamping (adding rhythmic chords behind the melody) would also be of interest.

Style-Specific Pointers: Jazz, Blues, Irish, and other musical styles are essentially languages. I’d love to pick up some vocabulary and improve my pronounciation by speaking with natives and naturalized citizens from those countries. Sorry for the mixed metaphors.

Friends, Colleagues: it can be good to meet people who are obsessed with the same stuff you’re into.

Concerts: did I mention that all the teachers will be performing?

In summary, Harmonicaland, here I come. Woohoo!

PS: the Expert Guide roster seems to be heavy on beards. I am curious to know whether this holds true for attendees as well. Does having a beard predispose one to playing the harmonica, or does it evolve as one persists in playing? What does this mean for women? Deep questions.