Studying music is a fun experience in its own right. Playing an instrument takes music to a new level. It’s the start of a journey that can last a lifetime. Of all the instruments we could choose to play, the harmonica has lots going for it.
Everyone recognises the sound of a harmonica. It may be on a Beatles track, in a Western Movie, in a TV theme tune or on a radio jingle. It’ll certainly feature in classic rhythm and blues songs. The voice of the harmonica is all around us, it’s distinct and wherever it is found, it always sounds cool.
Some instruments need tuning before playing. Not the harmonica. It’s ready to use every time and there are no awkward strings, keys or finger holes to negotiate. If you can breathe in and out, you can play the harmonica.
The harmonica’s size and weight is a major advantage. It’ll slip into your pocket and can go anywhere. It’s been played on top of mountains, in deserts, jungles, trenches, and prisons, in the cockpit of Jumbo Jets and even in a Space Rocket, so there’s no problem carrying a harmonica to School.
For mums and dads, the cost of clubs and activities can be prohibitive. Consequently, musical instruments are often hired or borrowed. While we can’t escape the cost of certain overheads such as your Harp Academy teacher, the harmonica itself is much cheaper than other instruments. And once it’s been bought, it’s yours to keep.
The harmonica is accessible for boys and girls alike. It’s also accessible for children with special educational needs. Harp Academy has introduced the harmonica to children with a variety of physical and behavioural backgrounds, from a basic lack confidence, to impaired articulation, motor skills, vision and hearing, to those diagnosed with autism, ADHD or selective mutism. There is evidence to show that playing the harmonica is also beneficial for those with asthmatic or heart conditions.
Best of all, learning the harmonica is fun. Lessons include key skill learning, musical games, group activities and repertoire drawn from a variety of child-friendly sources. The harmonica can play chords and rhythms, as well as single notes, which opens up a huge landscape for music making. It also has one or two tricks you might not expect!
It’s the start of something bigger
The harmonica is a highly effective portal for musical beginners. Not everyone stays with it; we accept that children’s interests change and long may this continue. When children leave Harp Academy to take up a new instrument, we know another musical fuse has been successfully ignited. When children stay with Harp Academy however, we are privileged that the character of the harmonica has resonated with an individual, helping them forge an identity of their own.
The educational value of music
Music making, including playing the harmonica, draws together science, maths, foreign languages, physical education and art. It requires team work, social skills and expresses emotion. Best of all it enables us to give pleasure to others.