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Three New Harmonica Book Collections To Download.

At Long Last

We are very proud to announce the availability of three new harmonica book collections from The Ben Hewlett Harmonica Course. Those who have seen and bought Ben Hewlett and Paul Lennon’s books will know just how accessible and fun these books and lessons are to work through. We invite you to try one of our collections because of the value you are getting but also because you truly can immerse yourself in the subjects your tackling and let the fun and learning last longer.  So with that in mind we come to you now with three new collections. Each collection has PDF book and backing audio for all lessons shown inside to guide you through the playing exercises. Our collections are best enjoyed as a digital download making them accessible to almost any harmonica players. You could be playing a fine tune in just a few minutes, give it a try. You do not have to be experienced now, but you will be by the end of just one of our collections.

The Collections

 

 

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National Harmonica League on Wikipedia

Wikipedia makes room for the National Harmonica League

Just a short note to tell you all that you can find out a bit about the National Harmonica League from Wikipedia. As well as the league’s own website which you can access by clicking here. Our own Ben Hewlett is the current Chairman of the National Harmonica League, he was elected in October 2012 at the Annual General Meeting.

It is nice to note that an institution like the NHL has gained a place in history by being documented inside the world’s online encyclopaedia. So many societies do not get immortalized on the web in the way that Wikipedia does. Great to see the league and its’ community attracting the attention of Wikipedia. This truly means that the harmonica has high level importance and the league has contributed enough to the global harmonica community in positive ways that deserve recognizing and protecting.

Articles within Wikipedia are written and verified by the Wikipedia community itself and can be edited accordingly. As the league develops and Ben’s involvement as its’ Chairman continues I am sure we shall see the piece expand dramatically.

 

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Great Words of Endorsement

Harmonica Players – Great & Small

Our Sonny Terry Collection has been the fortunate receiver of some lovely endorsements over the years. Endorsement matters a great deal to us and with that in mind when positive feedback comes in we love to share it. We’ve been given direct quotes from some of the big names in the harmonica community who have enjoyed the books. We felt it worthwhile to share their words of encouragement with you now.

Endorsements

Jon Gindick

Ben Hewlett’s book and CD on the riffs and techniques of Sonny Terry will make a great study companion for all developing harp players. Terry was a master of rhythm and phrasing and Hewlett helps beginners turn simple patterns into complex ones. Although the material ranges from simple to complex, there is no doubt in my mind that beginning players will benefit from this project.

Rob Paparozzi

Ben has figured out how to make Sonny Terry’s licks & style attainable for harp players on all levels. His methodology and respect for the music are what make him a  great player and an extraordinary teacher. Kudos to Ben for ‘demystifying’ the work of one of our Harmonica Giants in a way thats makes it FUN to learn a style with many twists, turns, hoots and hollers!
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Hohner Little Lady a Beauty to Behold

A Seriously Small Hohner.

What is the smallest harmonica in the world? This is the Hohner Little Lady. They make heaps of these so I shaved a little bit of metal off one of them to make it even smaller and now – I believe – this is THE smallest harmonica in the world.
The Hohner Little Lady is the same as holes 4-7 on a standard-tuned harmonica. With our books, such as Funky Nursery and Funky Xmas from www.harmonicaworld.net, you can play along to the 20 or so tunes on your mini harp. The play-along tracks are in four different versions to make them easy to learn and they all fit into a 1-octave range so work perfectly on this mini harmonica.
Imagine your friends faces when you play proper tunes on the tiny harmonica hanging off your neck! This fun video shows you just how tiny the Little Lady is.

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Harmonica Masters Workshops line up for November 2014.

Whats the situation?

Well, the masterful Ben Hewlett will be joining the lineup for the exciting Harmonica Masters Workshops 2014 which is being held in Germany. He will be teaching the workshop called: Blues on the Chromatic Harmonica for Beginners.

Course Outline:

“The workshop is mainly directed at diatonic harp players of any level who want to learn to play the chromatic in a blues style to add another dimension to their playing. This is mostly based on the easy and familiar third position as played on diatonic. We are going to learn how to play rhythms and chords effectively with great punch and timing in the 12 bar blues.”

“We will analyze the styles of the originals Little Walter and George Harmonica Smith, as well as some of their students such as William Clarke. We will also take a look at present-day masters such as Kim Wilson and Dennis Greunling. In addition, we will approach single note playing and improvising around the blues scale. Finally we’ll learn some classic blues tunes for you to be able to play confidently with a band.”

Ben’s thoughts:

He has told us that he is very excited about this wonderful opportunity to join such a exciting bunch of tutors, learners and other harmonica enthusiasts.

Ben also confessed that he fully intends to provide written literature to go along with his course. Though he did say he still has to research and write the book entitled Blues on the Chromatic Harmonica for Beginners. Adding to the point that Ben has a lot on his plate at present but will come through for his avid crowd of adoring fans.

Essential Details

The cost for the course is €250.00. The workshop will run over a Wednesday – Saturday and include 14 teaching units of 75 minutes each.

For full information head over to the website by clicking here.

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Karaoke King

Become the center of the attention.

Have you ever considered, while on a night out, giving a blast on the harmonica? Perhaps one evening down your local drinking hole you see a sign for karaoke or there’s a local band playing. We know you’ve often considered this choice and have even thrown caution to the wind.  If you haven’t – step up to the microphone to have a go!

Here are some pointers on how to approach performing on the harmonica in a karaoke style.  Enjoy.

  1. Find a song you like to hear that is in a suitable genre. It is very important to get this choice right and make it something that has some real passion behind it so you can enjoy yourself.
  2. Rehearsal is key, do you intend to do it alone, or will you have a singer with you? IF you have a singer then make sure your partnership is tested before the big night.
  3. Find out which key the song is in.
  4. Have a selection of harmonicas available to use on the night. That way you’ll be able to get the best sound.
  5. Have fun and the audience will too.

Check Mr Hewlett and Mr Prowse out.

Ben and Phil had a go and fortunately got it on tape for our viewing and listening pleasure! Here you go, click and enjoy.

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Guitarists are welcome too.

 

It should be mentioned that not long ago Paul Lennon wrote a book for intermediate to advanced guitar players with a speciality interest in the blues. Blues guitar and blues harmonica have a lot of similarities between them and will allow a competent musician to grasp the fundamentals of the blues very nicely.

The title given to this book is Rifforama – 60 Blues Rock Guitar Riffs.  It is currently on sale here from £12.99. This complete version is for download only and includes the book as a pdf and the music tracks as mp3s.  If you want the pdf book only then that is available for £7.99.

The book has been written because a lot of harmonica players often start out as guitarists and other musicians with varying levels of ability. Using the playalong method that we’ve found so effective with harmonica riffs, this book of guitar riffs will help both lead and rhythm players to expand their repertoire.

“This CD/book is not really for beginners and some of the technique is quite demanding. My aim has been to capture the essence of each player in my original riff and provide new duo material for you to work with. The playalong track can be used by you alone or in a duo or class situation.” – See more at: http://harmonicaworld.net/shop/rifforama-60-blues-rock-guitar-riffs/#sthash.rdfeezHz.dpuf

We strongly advise any aspiring blues player to check this book out for enhancing their abilities and solidifying their skills.

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New CD/Books in Preparation

Just to let you know…

Right now we are working on a new book, or strictly speaking, a series of new books; these books are all about learning how to play music on your harmonica, not just the blues as many people think when you mention ‘harmonica’.

We had the idea of looking into how you would learn to play a traditional musical instrument such as the flute, violin, recorder, trumpet etc, and wondered how we could apply this to the diatonic harmonica. We have both been through the traditional music system at school and didn’t always find it exhilarating.

Our initial approach was just to dive straight into the blues as we did in Blues Jam Factory (available on the Harmonica World site) Here the blues is mostly taught and learnt by ear.
This book has proved to be very popular and successful, however, there are other approaches to learning the harmonica.
So the new approach, which has the working title ‘How to play music on your Harmonica’, starts from the very beginning of playing the instrument.

We start with the very basic types of note lengths (4 beats, 3 beats etc) and use blow chords to play a series of exercises, play alongs, and call/response pieces.  This develops into using the draw chord as well, whilst rhythms become more complicated and interesting as we go along.  From here on the single notes are introduced with exercises and tunes and there is also a return to our ever-popular chugging (rhythm harmonica).  The aim is to produce three volumes which will equip the complete beginner with enough material to be able to play quite sophisticated tunes.  All this with appropriate exercises and playalong material.

The concern with this type of rather academic approach to learning music is that it is the opposite of the blues, and to be honest we were worried that people might find it a bit dull.
However we have tried it out with adults and children and they tell us that it is very satisfying and enjoyable.This may be because the exercises are quite challenging and the tunes have a lot of melodic and harmonic interest, so basically you are playing music which sounds good and is fun to play at the same time as you learn how to do it and how to read the notes.
Ben Hewlett & Paul Lennon – www.HarmonicaWorld.net

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Warning, Discounts Ahead!

 

Christmas isn’t over! Here’s a present from us at HarmonicaWorld.net for harmonica players of all levels. It could not be considered a January Sale as January is almost over, however winter is not. So, Winter Sale it is.

Firstly order any download from us and get a 10% discount coupon on your next download purchase.

Secondly we have smashed the cost of our two great riff collections for you to enjoy by 17.5% – The Sonny Terry Collection & The Blues Riffs Collection. The new price of £24.99 is for the PDF and Audio download version of each collection. They are both great for any player to expand their repertoire.

 

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World Harmonica Festival 2013

harmonicaworld.netBen jamming one number with the Nightcats

World Harmonica Festival, Trossingen, Germany 2013.

 

I left home in Bristol UK at four am scraping the ice off the car and arrived in Trossingen and 3 pm local time. First job is to find a beer and the inevitable bratwurst after checking in to the hotel.

 

A quick walk around town reveals day-glow Hohner logos on the pavement and the sound of harmonica is getting louder as I approach the Hohner Conservatory – I must be heading in the right direction.

 

Trossingen has a rural feel and the lovely smell of wood smoke and cattle at this time of night. Very quiet here – apart from the harmonica players that is.

 

Outside and inside there are duos and trios and whatevero’s all playing at once, to the high standard that many Asian people reach. Must go to Asia one day to find out why they are all so good.

 

Back down Hohnerstrase, past cafes with old men playing the harmonica inside, locals singing along and a tiny Korean child jumping around playing a little lady.

 

Small groups of harmonica players are walking down the street playing, and soon I find the Dr Ernst Hohner concert hall where everybody is gathering, and I get my registration and workshop/judges instruction sorted out. Immediately I meet lots of old friends from the UK the US and Europe, I am definitely in the right place now and grab another beer whilst chatting with them.

 

So the World Harmonica Festival starts here.

 

Thursday 31.10.13

 

I’m teaching first thing ‘rhythmic patterns for diatonic players in the first three positions’

It’s a very simple idea but really effective; we started with clapping call and response patterns in 3,4,5 and 6 time ending up with half the group of about 50 people clapping (in 6 beats to the bar) on 1,3,5 and the other half on 1 and 4 – at the same time. Then each person clapping 135 on one knee and 1, 4 on the other knee at the same time. Try it!

 

On to a ‘shakeyshakey’ instrument with simultaneously played harmonica to try developing rhythmic independence, and then a bunch of rhythms to underpin some great tunes like Jambalaya, Tom Hark, When the Saints etc.

 

Next we worked out how to find the groove in a range of tunes on iTunes ranging from classical, zydeco, and reggae through to blues.

 

Finally the whole group worked together but in threes or fours finding rhythms, grooves and solos. Sounded pretty good to me, and I believe they all enjoyed it as they were actively involved from start to finish.

 

I truly believe participants being actively involved is the way to go if you are offering a workshop.

 

A seminar, demonstration, talk or ‘meet the artist’ (and hear their life story!) are equally valid provided you know you are just going to listen and not be active – it gives you the chance to grab an espresso first!

 

Other sessions going on at the same time were Rick Estrin (of ‘and the Nightcats’ fame) ‘playing the blues’, Keith Dunn ‘the basics of solo performance’, and Fata Morgana ‘Ensemble playing; arranging for harmonica groups’.

 

Later the Hohner Service team offered two hours of maintenance related sessions and finally Tollak Ollestad talked about ‘modern chromatic sound shaping’

I couldn’t make these sessions unfortunately but they looked great to me.

The competion was going on all day pretty much – you wouldn’t believe how many people have entered – I heard it was 180 from Hong Kong, 100 from Malaysia, and many more from all over the globe.

 

There were 298 entries in total but I didn’t see any native Brits (Eva, Leonid, and Greg our adopted Brits excepted) or even any US competitors.

 

The competion was held in 5 venues over three days simultaneously!

 

In the evening Philip Achille played with Chris Collis to great applause at the ‘Young Chromatic Talents’ concert with Sirius Ensemble, Arinori Inagawa, and Cheuk Yin Ho.

 

If that wasn’t enough there were also three jam sessions to round off the first day; Joe Filisko and Eric Noden’s acoustic jam, Steve Baker’s late night blues session and Tom Stryker (ex SPAH President, prior to Winslow Yerxa, and my fellow competition judge) with his Jazz sessions.

 

Friday 1st November

 

I did another workshop on the same subject as before to a mostly different crowd. Another surprisingly good turnout with lots of happy campers.

 

Then to Steve Baker’s workshop but couldn’t get in as I missed the 11am start by a couple of minutes unfortunately. I’m sure it was good and was on the subject of tone, taste and timing – three things I admire about his playing – so I was sorry to miss it. I should have been more punctual!

 

The three ‘young chromatic players’ (including Phil Achille) from the previous night’s concert did a workshop which sounded good but competition jury service called so I didn’t make that one.

 

Open category in the competion had a wide range of acts including ‘popular music from the Italian Islands’ , a Fiddler on the roof based composition, Peg o’ my heart (when will it stop?), Swedish music, Blue in Green. Ravel’s bolero with a loop station, 1771, Tico Tico, Vivaldi concerto for two trumpets, Nemesis, In a friendly way, Danse Macabre, OBS2, Swedish Emigrant, Malagueña, Italian medley, Barber of Seville, The harmonious postman, Our delight, The Entertainer from our own Eva Phoenix and husband, and Feel free to forget our name – played by the Hippies from Hell.

 

It was so tough to judge with some outstanding performances. Eva came near the top but wasn’t able to beat the Asians unfortunately, but very few can as they all seem to play from school days and are trained to win competitions from an early age. I can’t imagine the Asian Pacific Harmonica Festival – I’m told many thousands of people attend – we had 3,000 here which seems a lot to me, and the APHF is supposed to be bigger. Must go along one year.

 

I had to miss workshops from Keith Dunn, Rachelle Plas, Sirius Quartet, Kathrin Gass on teaching children (I’ll need to follow that one up), Yasuo Watani on sound phrasing.

 

Fata Morgana played but I went to see the amazing Rachelle Plas ripping up a storm, Keith Dunn with his incredible solo act, and finally Rick Estrin and the Nightcats showing us how to play the blues.

 

After that we got to play with the Nightcats at Steve Baker’s late night jam – I played Watermelon Man and I can tell you those guys are mind readers, they allowed me to stretch out, blow when I wanted, drop the sound down to pin drop level and come back in with the final head on max. Now THAT was a treat!

 

Tom’s Jazz session was great but it was a long day…

 

Saturday November 2nd

 

Excellent workshops for Joe Filisko and Rick Estrin on their take on the blues and then off to the Hohner Factory to do some filming on the subject of harmonica education – I have some views on that subject.

 

Next, with pockets full of sweets (a reward from Hohner!), I joined a factory tour where I was able to see the factory in operation from manufacturing the combs, the reeds, the reed plates, stamping the coverplates right through to the finished produkt. I’m pretty sure there is a video on YouTube about how a harmonica factory works if you are interested.

 

There was a chamber concert I am kicking myself that I forgot to go; I was told it was outstanding.

 

It featured the trio ‘Triological Moments’ (the brochure says ‘Logical…Triological’. Who says the Germans have no sense of humour? Don’t answer that…)

 

This was followed the award winning Hong Kong Harmonica Association Orchestra.

 

There is so much going on here it’s hard to keep up as well as eat, drink and sleep.

 

I decided to go to the German harmonica museum instead which was, as always, rather fascinating. I notice that the Director, Martin Haefner (not sure if that’s the right spelling) was wearing lovely white side whiskers and looked not dissimilar to Matthias Hohner himself. I’m told he will shave them off on Monday and has been growing them for some time. There’s commitment for you.

 

www.harmonicaworld.net

Ben Hewlett on a tour of Hohner’s factory in Trossingen

In the evening we have the world harmonica gala. It features the 20 year old Konstantin Reinfeld who has been playing for only four years but would compare very well with some of the finest jazz players in my opinion. Unbelievable.

 

Yasuo Watani follows Konstantin and is a man who has taught at, and originally studied at, the conservatory in Trossingen. He reminds us how to play classical music on the harmonica and get a very lengthy applause for his efforts.

 

Tollak Ollestad is an amazing all round musician with high levels of skill on diatonic and chromatic as well as being a great singer, keyboardist, and songwriter. This show keeps getting better and better with every new act.

 

Finally Marcos Coll and Los Mighty Calacas take to the stage where the microphones are sporting some pretty fancy skeletons ‘calacas’ in Spanish. They start with some Latin salsa type of music and everybody starts dancing between the front row and the stage. Maybe not everybody, but I am told this is a first for The World Harmonica Festival. They play a mixture of blues, soul, funk, and Latin music with Marcos being very dynamic on the harmonica. Another great show full of humour excellent music and showmanship.

 

More excellent blues and jazz jam sessions round off another cracking day.

 

Sunday, November 3rd. The first part of the final day is the prize giving ceremony which seems to go on for very many hours. Rob Janssen from the Fata Morgana harmonica quartet founded in 1980 in the Netherlands, is the master of ceremonies and he invites to the stage the entire group of people who have performed each category, one at a time.

 

There were about 300 entries to the competition including groups some of which had 20 people involved. Whilst I saw many people who have entered multiple categories the majority seemed to be one off’s. I think you can read the results on the world harmonica Festival website and there are many videos on YouTube now for you to have a look at.

 

After this most of the Chinese speaking community hopped onto buses and vanished whilst I lot of people including me went back to the Kesselhaus for Steve Baker’s chillout concert, where he together ‘with master guitarist, singer and composer, Dave Goodman and drummer Oliver Spanuth create a breathtaking mix of energy, virtuosity and unrestrained Joy of playing which promises to bring the world harmonica Festival 2013 to a fitting close’ it says here in the program.

 

And they certainly delivered exactly that; it was a great way to say goodbye to old and new friends have a chat with some of the performers I had been meaning to talk with and to generally round things off.

 

Since my flight was on the Monday I went for a last evening meal with the Los Mighty Calacas and we found ourselves in the only place that was open so almost everybody else including the organisers was there as well. Interesting to find out that this band live between Spain and Mexico so don’t really get together unless they are playing or touring. The music they produce is excellent so clearly it works for them but must be very difficult to manage I would imagine.

 

I say my good nights and goodbyes to the organisers and tutors and head for home.

 

Many trains, planes, and motorway miles later I get home to Bristol and sleep for 17 hours.

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