Short Stories

Harmonica visitors submit fiction or non-fiction short stories based on experiences that involve the harmonica or harmonica playing. If you would like to have a short story included in our collection, please note the procedures for submission in the bullet points on the Short Stories main page.

"First Time Jam"

I can't recall ever seeing or hearing a female blues harp player in action; maybe that's why, when I decided to take up the harmonica, a little voice kept telling me I wasn't the kind of person the instrument was intended for. Despite this, it was fun and I knew it was something I wanted to learn well, but for a couple of months after I bought my first Lee Oskar in the key of "C", I found myself easily discouraged by my apparent lack of progress.

Then, one Saturday evening, six of us had gathered together at a friend's place with three electric guitars, one harmonica, about ten gallons of beer and some kettle chips for a bit of an experimental jam session. For a long while I didn't even dare to admit that I'd brought my harp with me, as I was afraid of looking and sounding like a fool.

But when a guitarist friend started playing a slow blues in "E", the temptation to join in became too great... I had recently bought a Lee Oskar in 'A' and was learning my way around it with the help of Jerry Portnoy's Instructional CD Set, and I knew enough to have an idea that the holes at the lower end of the harp would be 'safe'.

I tentatively played hole 4 draw a couple of times, and it seemed to fit in nicely, so I added more single notes and a ragged, warbling chord or two... And so, fueled by wine and enthusiasm, I succeeded in playing the harmonica in front of five people - my first public performance!

It was great to have an additional sound to complement the guitars, and everyone seemed to enjoy what I was doing. My friends' appreciative comments have motivated me to practice with renewed enthusiasm. I've realised that you don't need a great degree of skill or experience in order to get and give enjoyment by playing the harmonica. So, if you are a beginning harp player like me, I would recommend you try an informal jam. Even if you lack confidence in your playing, to your non-harping friends, it will sound way better than anything they could do.


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