beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Starting over
Starting over
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Tommy the Hat
682 posts
Aug 04, 2017
6:03 AM
I posted something about this on the main forum but I figured it might be helpful here. Maybe other beginners can see what can happen with what I'll call, "wrong practice. I started playing some yeas ago then stopped a year or two later and I actually think I learned a lot. However, I never spent time actually learning complete songs but rather worked on copying sounds and learning techniques. Tongue blocking, bending, octaves and everything else. I also kept trying to jam with jam tracks and kind of do my own thing. I did learn a lot of that stuff pretty good I think, as far as making sounds goes. But I missed the music part.

Recently I picked up the harp again about 2 months ago. After attempting to play with a backing track again, I realized that although I can do a lot of things and pretty much copy most things I hear or I'm shown....I pretty much have nothing but that. What I mean is that I have nothing of my own. No licks or riffs that give the listener interest and my playing is just "off."

I decided to start over. I guess in one respect it's good that I'm starting as a beginner (again) but I don't have to learn all the basics of bending or how to play the instrument. But at the same time it's difficult because I have a lot of bad habits as far as the music side goes.

I know how to play the instrument. But I don't know how to play music. (if that makes sense).

Here are two videos. The first is where I left off 5 years ago. At the time this wasn't a video showing my playing. It was only a video showing a new "bottle O' Blues" mic I bought and a pig nose amp. But the video will do.

The second video I made the other day to show how I can't put anything I know into a tight or meaningful flow of notes and riffs/licks. So I'm starting over (sort of). Practice correctly and thoroughly guys. I rushed to learn how to "appear as if" I knew what I was doing by focusing on only the instrument for all my learning time. In the second video I don't have a backing track but I'm trying to improvise the song "Help Me" and do my own thing. Which turns out to be a lot of nothing.

I hope this is at least a little helpful. Any help, or advice for me is always appreciated. Thanks for listening.

Playing the instrument:



Trying to make music:




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Tommy


My YouTube vocal covers
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Last Edited by Tommy the Hat on Aug 04, 2017 6:04 AM
SkullKid
90 posts
Dec 10, 2017
1:08 PM
Hey, welcome back to the harp!

I just remembered this thread and that I wanted to respond back when you originally posted this - for some reason, I didn't do it.
Not sure if I'm experienced enough to give advice, maybe others will chime in after I bumped this back to the main page. I just wanted to say that your approach for starting over (practising correctly and thoroughly) seems like a very good idea. Since you already have the techniques and you want to improve your "music"-skill, I'd recommend to put most of your energy into learning songs: If you have an hour, put 30-40 minutes into learning the song (slowly) with all its intricacies and maybe spend the rest on improving your technique further or improvising / music theory)- this is also (roughly) what David Barrett recommends and it has helped me to improve massively!
One last thing: I really like the singing in the second video!

PS: If you want to learn "Help me", there is a good video by Will Wilde:

Last Edited by SkullKid on Dec 11, 2017 10:58 AM
Tommy the Hat
705 posts
Dec 11, 2017
11:51 AM
Thanks for the post SkullKid...I appreciate you taking the time. I really don't post anymore...I really haven't much to say and would rather just read and gather info. Just a note as far as my video of "Help Me" is concerned. That's not me trying to play Help Me it is only a song/backing track chosen (that just happens to be Help Me) just to show that although I can play/do a good deal of techniques I can't put it together to "improvise." As far as Help Me (the song) I can play that pretty much note for note. I say "pretty much" because I haven't played it in awhile all the way through, but I learned that whole song years ago as well as a couple others. All I was doing here was using the backing track to try and make up my own version following the bass line showing that I struggle with that. Meaning putting all I know together in an improv that sounds good. Sort of like I never heard the song before and someone asked me to grab my harp and jam with them. Thanks for the Will Wilde video though. I'm familiar with him. Good stuff and always helpful since I haven't played the solo in some years. At least not Sonny Boy's solo as I learned it. (actually I learned it from a Gussow lesson I purchased some years back).

Thanks for the compliment on my singing by the way. Funny, but that's what made me put down the harp back in the early 90's. I was playing my heart out and people would kind of gloss over it but then say "I really like your singing man!" I got more compliments on my singing that my harp so I stopped and focused strictly on vocals. That's when I hooked up with a former member here and we started our little duo and covered 6 songs before stopping. Check it out here: Transatlantic Mojo

That's a few years old. I've moved on a lot since then and don't sing much of that type of music anymore or in that style.


I appreciate you taking the time and interest to address this and only came back in out of respect for that. I thought I at least owed you a response :)

I'm still doing my thing. Love your front porch blues...as I've said on your YT channel.

Tommy
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Tommy


My YouTube vocal covers
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Last Edited by Tommy the Hat on Dec 11, 2017 12:27 PM
SkullKid
91 posts
Dec 11, 2017
12:44 PM
Oh, I see, you can already play it (now I'm the one that's being jealous - it's such a cool song!) and your point was more about improvisation. Don't have any experience with that, and as I said: Maybe other players can help.

What a nice idea to team up with another player from the site - really digging your stuff, even if it lasted "only" for six songs!

Cheers,
SkullKid

Last Edited by SkullKid on Dec 11, 2017 12:47 PM
Tommy the Hat
706 posts
Dec 11, 2017
12:53 PM
I have a video somewhere from around 2012 when I was learning it before I got the tab for the solo. It's pretty rough but I eventually got the song down. I don't really play it anymore so while I remember the main riffs etc I'd have to relearn the solo. I can still probably fake it enough to get by. As long as there aren't any experienced harp players in the audience I think I can fake most songs and fool enough people into thinking I can play....lol.

Thanks for checking out our old Blues collaborations. It was fun.

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Tommy


My YouTube vocal covers
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Facebook

Last Edited by Tommy the Hat on Dec 11, 2017 1:57 PM


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