Spring Global Blues Harmonica Summit and structuring practice sessions

Photo by Mark Seton. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Attending any educational workshop is truly inspiring. Unfortunately, that inspiration isn’t always long-term. I’m fairly bad for getting quite inspired by attending harmonica workshops, as a good example, and then getting into a short-lived pattern of practice.

I’ve attended two separate years of the Shared Harvest Harmonica Retreat in Dunnville, Ontario and (as of today) two Global Blues Harmonica Summits put on by Ronnie Shellist of Harmonica123.com. In each case, I’ve left with incredible amounts of inspiration, energy and big plans to focus on practice, learn a few tunes and start playing on a regular basis.

To be honest, my good intentions usually last a few days or a couple of weeks before I start skipping practice to watch TV, play video games, smoke cigars, drink beer or engage in some other unproductive activity. It’s not that the workshops are bad. Quite the opposite, actually. The Dunnville retreat is a great place to meet other harmonica players, jam in a safe environment (not that I’ve gotten up the courage to play around others yet, mind you) and learn from some of the best players in the world. In the two times I’ve attended, I’ve learned from Adam Gussow, Jerome Godboo (my inspiration for picking up the harp in the first place), Carlos del Junco, Mike Stevens, Roly Platt and Ronnie Shellist.

As for the GBHS events, you can’t ask for more for the few bucks it costs to attend (from the comfort of your own office or couch). In the fall, Ronnie brought in Richard Sleigh and Dennis Gruenling to help him out. For the spring event, he enlisted blues guitarist Gerry Hundt to provide not just backing track play, but also his own insight into playing the blues (in general) and the harmonica (more specifically; Gerry plays harp in addition to guitar).

Four hours of blues harmonica instruction, and I’m rarin’ to go.

The difficult part for me is the focus. Ronnie and Gerry provided excellent instruction on how to play along with a variety of blues styles, as well as how to fit yourself into a jam without breaking typical band etiquette. I’m really looking forward to getting the replay videos so I can go back over the workshop and pick out a few things I didn’t get a chance to write notes about.

I’m putting my best intentions out there, though. A couple of weeks back, Ronnie sent out an email newsletter with some suggestions for structuring practice. After my difficulty in setting aside the time each day to practice, figuring out the structure is my biggest challenge.

So I’m going to try to commit to regular, daily practice for the month of April. Every day. No less than 15 minutes, but preferably 30-45 minutes, each day. I’ll try my best to use my blog (or hell, maybe my YouTube channel) to log my practice and keep myself motivated.

Categorised in: Blues Harmonica, Music

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