beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Harmonica brings the world together (at times)
Harmonica brings the world together (at times)
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2007 posts
Sep 28, 2017
2:49 AM
A few months ago I was waiting in the GP’s office when they brought out a cake and started singing Happy Birthday for one of the patients, an old guy of around 80 who has a monthly appointment. Well, I grabbed my harp and played Happy Birthday, nothing special in terms of melody or overall skill level in my opinion.
Today I waited while my wife had her appointment. At the end the receptionist said, “You didn’t play your harmonica!” She said the old guy had been very moved the previous time. She said, “He has no family and when he told the story about the harmonica he had tears in his eyes.”
I have sometimes reluctant to whip it out in public, but episodes like that make me more inclined.

BronzeWailer's YouTube
161 posts
Sep 28, 2017
5:57 AM
Nice story. I'm sure that fellow will remember it forever.
5003 posts
Sep 28, 2017
2:06 PM
That's a good story BW. I almost have a tear in my eye.
Jason 5.0
2 posts
Sep 28, 2017
3:04 PM
Awesome story
29 posts
Sep 28, 2017
9:13 PM
Lovely story. Affecting someone like that really is the best we can hope for as humans.
2009 posts
Sep 29, 2017
6:19 AM
Thanks peeps.

I really do think music reaches out and connects people. Even when it is something simple.

It is a gift that enriches the giver and receiver. This may sound corny but I truly believe it. Cheers!

I'd be interested to hear your stories of when you were just playing and something special happened.

BronzeWailer's YouTube
163 posts
Oct 01, 2017
6:22 AM
Though I don't think I have one quite as spontaneous as your story..

My wife and I are big believers in music both as therapy and connecting with folks by way of music.
So this past January when visiting a small village up in Quebec where we have gone for many years.We asked if the people "up on the hill" in the next village might like it if we played some music for them. The people "on the hill" is a retirement place.
I think it is the step before a nursing home..though it is understood it is the last place they will ever live for some of them.
Who did we ask..? We asked the cook..who asked the director..who as they say "has some english".
So we played for about a dozen folks. At the end each and every one of them came over to us and thanked us individually 1st my wife and then myself.
Big smiles..our songs were in english, but several of them were highly recognizable in either language (french).
Not only were we surprised that nobody had played for them before but how grateful they were that we even thought of them.
We have been there 3 times this year, each time we increase the number of french song, even if they are children songs..though one of the most popular is a "drinking song" that they all know when we play some of the towns people come up to see what it's all about..
Now when we go I think of turning it around a bit and get them to teach us songs that they know and have some fun with it.
I think the gist of it is to be a resident "up on the hill" isn't a death sentence, and the local people might be inspired to go up there and do, well most anything of interests, they are their friends and neighbors who have just happened to get old...

a bit wordy story for me. Hope it comes across okay, because we can do the same no matter what country we live in...

Last Edited by Spderyak on Oct 01, 2017 6:30 AM
2014 posts
Oct 05, 2017
2:17 AM
Nice story Spderyak. I am sure you are brightening up people's day. My Mom just moved into an old-folks' home in Edmonton. They had a Julliard trained pianist come in but she wasn't impressed as the music had no feeling, in Mom's opinion.

All the best!

BronzeWailer's YouTube
345 posts
Oct 05, 2017
5:30 AM
Spderyak, what were/are some of the songs you and your wife play?
Good stories, gents.
Phil Pennington
164 posts
Oct 06, 2017
4:21 AM
I try to play a wide mix of songs. We are kind of partial to songs from the 1930, swing and what not. Songs like Java Jive..Mack the Knife...Blues Skies.
things like that. These folks are not that much older than us..Rock Around the Clock is always well received...we can kid a round a little and offer them a chance to dance.
Paper Moon...Sunny Side of the Street...Don't get Around Much any more (the Big Walter version)
We do make an effort to keep the songs on the upside of things and not something to depressive.
Most everybody recognizes names like Willie Nelson, Louis Armstrong.
I have it easy as I don't do the exception is a french song where the guy asks the lady if she is going to the dance and the lady responds that yes she is going and back an forth with the lyrics a few times. (La Bastringa)
We have one we call "Boogie du Jour" we just make it up as the mood strikes.
Boogie has been around for a long time people love it. Lot of folks were young rowdys..much like we were..lots of common ground there
Trying to have several sing a longs..big believers in audience participation.
We ask folks to bring their smiles and have a good time for awhile..
Usually we talk to folks at the end of the show..when we are packing up and what not.
My wife was also classically trained..she is the brains...I'm just "arm candy" eh ?

I think Bronze Wailer is on to something...
thanks for asking
346 posts
Oct 07, 2017
5:08 AM
Neat. I'd like to talk my guitar playing friend into doing this with me. He's not much into upside oldies, but I'll suggest it might get us more gigs.... I remember how the music that you describe above would be all that could pull my mother out of the depths of her dementia. Smile, sing, light up. Wondrous.
Phil Pennington
165 posts
Oct 07, 2017
9:44 AM
Fil (Phil)
That is a tough one indeed. In our case it did lead to other gigs, kind of by coincidence I guess.
I'm sure it's extra tough in your situation, but it is all about playing for them..even if it's out of our comfort zone as they say. We practice for those gigs as hard as any other gig, but mostly we are playing for people who still have cognitive skills I think is how they say it nowadays.
Tomorrow we will play at a rehab hospital I'm sure it will be somewhat emotionally challenging.
I don't know your level of playing, but I think the 1st 25 songs or so that I learned were straight from a 1957 Hohner booklet. These days I can pretty much do what ever I want to those tune add extra notes string em together jazz them up so to speak.
...Love how James Cotton throws one of them into the middle of a hot tune he's playing etc..
You can change the lyrics of any song...could put your Moms name in them and see if you get a smile..things like that.
It won't diminish your skills it might just add to them...nobody will really care if you can play Whammer Jammer or not for instance...It's music on a different level than that.
Good luck with all is a lot to ask of your guitarist friend...all I can say is one of my favorites is a clip of Eric Clapton...playin Kazoo on San Francisco Bay Blues...and the closer you look half the band is joining him...and those guys played plenty a hot it !

Last Edited by Spderyak on Oct 07, 2017 9:52 AM

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