Sample Lesson – Jingle Bells

Jingle BellsDashing through the snow

Here’s a fun song to play for Christmas. The song was originally composed in the late 1880’s in Massachusetts, USA. It was written for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas, but these days it’s become a popular seasonal number.

You’ll find that the verse is a bit too awkward for the 4 hole harmonica, but we do have tabs available for 10 hole harp. The chorus is great for any harp however. If you choose to perform this song at Christmas time, but only play 4 hole harmonica, we’ve found it fun to include some movements while we sing the verse, before playing along to the chorus on our harps. (more…)

Youth Harmonica Player of the Year 2022

Congratulations to Tom Coleman, Handcross Park School

Tom has been a Harp Academy student for several years. In 2017 he drove to the National Harmonica Festival in Bristol and entered the music competition organised by the National Harmonica League (NHL). He won first place in the melodic section that year playing Solomon Linda’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh).

During two years of Covid-19 lockdown 2020-21, the NHL rebranded and is now HarmonicaUK, the nation’s central charity for all things harmonica. This year their competition was by video entry online.

Five years on from his previous entry, Tom took part once again. On this occasion he played the jazz standard Misty by Errol Garner (in the blues style of Jerry Portnoy). This is a difficult piece played in third position, with intricate draw and blow bend, control, octave playing and other advanced skills. Once again Tom was successful and has been awarded UK Youth Harmonica Player of the Year. Well don Tom!

Further great news announced at this year’s festival is the arrival of graded harmonica exam courses later this Autumn, which have been set up by Rock School (RSL) in collaboration with HarmonicaUK.  Harmonica students of all ages can now take graded exams if they wish, putting the harmonica on a par with conventional musical instruments.

When we have further information about next year’s HarmonicaUK music competition and the new RSL graded exams, we will send a bulletin to Harp  Academy parents and carers.

Sample Lesson – The Saints

I want to be in that number

It’s time to learn some fun jazz on the harmonica and here’s a song everybody will recognise. It’s called When The Saints Go Marching In and it’s from New Orleans, The song has a long name, so we’ll call it The Saints for short.

The Saints started life as an American gospel hymn and it was sung quite slowly. But once the Jazz Bands of New Orleans got hold of it, they soon gave it some swing! (more…)

The P Word (Practise)

How to Practise Harmonica
It’s noticeable in our weekly school sessions when children have found the time to practise at home and have the support of their grown ups. Confidence levels are high, progress is swift and lessons are fun. Central to this process is parental encouragement, good use of our website, a music diary, a well managed music kit and a specific task or performance to aim at.

Of course some harmonauts tell us they don’t have time to practise, their grown ups won’t let them, or they’ve lost their music. And there was one harmonaut whose dog ate their harmonica – we saw the evidence, complete with bite marks. But practise needn’t be a torture. Here is our take on how to make it a purposeful and enjoyable habit.

Harp Academy Website
Many of our study pieces and exercise have a support page on our website. With help from their grown ups, harmonauts can log in and navigate to the appropriate page. Here they can find click-and-copy buttons to guide them through songs line by line. There is an explanation of what makes the song or music exercise unique, a list of key skills covered and practise tracks. Wider learning items also feature, touching on music theory, general knowledge and performance preparation. (more…)