Here is a short MP3 recording of my playing. (The first part of the MP3 is the style I learned as a child with the identical Harp that I learned on then. The second part is with my Special 20 C harp with Turbo lids. Finally, my efforts to bend notes)
I don't know at what level I would be classified. I began messing around with the harmonica (Hohner Echo harp in G) when I was a young child (1954) at my grandfather‚s knee. (Red River Valley, No Place Like Home, Danny Boy, Streets of Laredo, etc). I continued, very sporadically, for the next 50 years. I never had any lessons. Recently, when I retired I picked it up again, and subscribed to Harmonicalessons.com. I travel in my RV, and am able to get in jam sessions (mostly Country or Gospel) from time to time at different campgrounds. I am able to keep up, but they are a very forgiving group. These are the first lessons I have ever had. I have Jon Gindick's book and CD, but am not really into Blues. I am just now getting the bend notes (sort of), and would be very interested in a critique. Please feel free to be frank (even brutal, I am 63 years old and my skin is thick). I specifically need to know where to go from here.
One more question: do you know of any good harmonica instructors in the Coastal Bend area of Texas (anywhere between Houston and Corpus Christi)?
Thanks for any input you can provide.
CLIFF: "The first part of the MP3 is the style I learned as a child"
DG: Sounds good. This is an old-timey 1st Position tongue blocking technique I refer to as "Hoo-la-las".
CLIFF: "The second part is with my Special 20 C harp with Turbo lids."
DG: This sounds fine too. I'd work on the hand effects and beef up the sound a bit (large airtight cup with more breathing)-
Better breathing is always a good thing (more relaxed airflow through the harmonica creates better tone and dynamics)-
You could also add some "Tonguing" (Articulation) to give you better separation between repetitions of the same note-
CLIFF: "Finally, my efforts to bend notes"
DG: This is the weak spot of what I heard. For much of the kind of music you want to play, bending is not necessary -- something to keep in mind. Bending will allow you to play interesting melodies in 2nd Position. Take a listen to the Correct and Incorrect bending sound samples here. You are closer to the Incorrect sound file-
CLIFF: "I don't know at what level I would be classified."
DG: It really doesn't make any difference, but aside the bending level, I'd say you are around an Intermediate for your tone and sense of timing.
CLIFF: "I specifically need to know where to go from here."
DG: You would need to tell me what it is you want to do that you can't do today. Since you are adept at melody playing, you might consider the chromatic harmonica which will essentially give you unlimited melodies and songs to choose from. Bending can open up another world of possibilities, but it is not necessarily a world everyone needs to visit. Don't feel forced to become an expert at bending and 2nd Position.
CLIFF: "One more question: do you know of any good harmonica instructors in the Coastal Bend area of Texas (anywhere between Houston and Corpus Christi)?"
DG: Not specifically in that area. Here's a few web links (near the bottom of the page) to private instructors across the US
If you haven't already, you might try asking at the Gindick message board also. Someone there might know.