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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Building A Harp Lesrning Library
Building A Harp Lesrning Library
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27 posts
May 31, 2019
6:08 AM
I've been learning to play the harp for a couple of months now, and as with my banjo playing, its a journey, not an event. I decided to build a learning library for the harp. I currently have the Harmonica Primer by Tom Wolf and Beginning Country Harp by Charlie McCoy. After researching reviews here and other places on the Internet, I ordered Harmonica For Dummies and Blues Harmonica For Dummies by Winslow Yerxa.

As a anti gifted musician, I figure those will last me for the rest of my harp learning journey.
Jeff B

Last Edited by Pickn5 on May 31, 2019 6:11 AM
28 posts
May 31, 2019
6:13 AM
The title is supposed to be Harp Learning Library.
Jeff B
5993 posts
May 31, 2019
5:12 PM
David Barrett has produced many books over the years, and I hear good things about most if not all.

I have 2 I think are great: Accompaniment, and Improvisation.
These are more of a road map than a step by step lesson plan, but they do each contain a series of assignments.

I have a number of books of transcriptions.
The David McKelvey book is quite good, although the ‘harp tab’ has a few errors. Where I’ve found errors in tab, I’ve Looked to the standard notation and found it is correct though (in so far as it’s possible to notate Harmonica in standard notation), so whoever turned it into tab has been hasty, but mr mckelvey was generally on the money.
The Glen Weiser ‘Masters of the Blues harp’ book is also good. Glen has tried harder to transcribe specificities about articulations and such, which is cool on the one hand but also a little more complex to read. And sometimes I wonder if we are listening to the same stuff but he is generally right and it’s me who needs to listen better.

Both these books are really good but work best in conjunction with a good slow down and looping app like amazing slow downer, AudioStretch or the like.
Also, it really helps to know you are listening to the right recording. Not a problem with the Weiser book but the McKelvey book has a couple of odd ones. For instance Aw’h Baby is the alternate take, and I still haven’t obtained the ‘Checkin up on my baby’ record he has transcribed. It’s hard to get!

Some folks struggle with transcription books. My advice is to just try and get a small chunk at a time. Just a single measure or a phrase. Gradually you get there, get better at reading and playing and listening, which is really the point of these books.

I also have (prized possession!) David Barrett’s book of the Big Walter ‘with Carey Bell’ album. David does also transcribe articulations so it can be heavy going at times but I think it’s worthwhile to try.
There are 2 other books in the series which I’d love to get. I have found the book of the Carey Bell ‘Deep Down’ album but the seller is asking over $200 for it and I’m not that fanatical. To be fair, even the album is hard to get.
The other one is a William Clarke record. I’ve never seen a copy but I know it’s out there.

Lick books might be worth having too.
I have the Tom Ball ‘sourcebook of Big Walter and Little Walter licks.
There are others. I should make more use of the one I have, really.

There are some good DVDs, but I don’t have a great collection.
The Norton Buffalo pair is good.
The Billy Boy Arnold DVD I think is worth having but it may take a while to appreciate.
The Jr Wells DVD is both deeply sad and also kind of wonderful. I expect most would think it unwatchable and of little value as an instructional piece. I find value in it but it’s not easy to watch

I saw recently that Mark Hummel made a teaching video. I haven’t seen it but I want to.

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