Harmonica

Ron Pulcer playing 10-hole diatonic harmonica Although I am primarily a guitarist, I also got hooked on harmonica in the late 1980s.  I first tried to learn harmonica in the summer of 1981, and was able to play a few melodies (straight harp style).  But I got frustrated because I couldn't seem to "bend" any notes.  So I put the harmonica down for a few years.

My interest in harmonica was renewed when I began listening to the "Capitol City Blues Cruise" with Scott Allman on Sunday nights on the radio in Lansing, Michigan in the late 1980s. It was then that I began listening to some really great harmonica players, Sonny Terry, Rod Piazza, Peter "Madcat" Ruth (who played live on the Blues Cruise show), and many other blues harp players.

In the early 1990s, I was working a lot of overtime on my "day job" as a computer programmer / systems analyst.  There didn't seem to be much time to play my guitar back then, so I figured I had to "do something" about it.  I decided that learning more about harmonica was the way to go.  You can carry a harmonica in your pocket, and I could play and practice on my lunch hour at a nearby park.  I began to listen more to blues music, and eventually I learned to play blues harp (cross harp style).

The harmonica started out as a fun "diversion" from playing guitar, but my interest has continually grown over the years.  I have realized how the seemingly "simple" ten-hole diatonic harmonica, with its inherent limitations (compared to a piano or guitar), can be played in quite a variety of ways and styles.  Since I work in the "high-tech" computer field, one thing that appeals to me about the harmonica is that this relatively "low-tech" instrument can do so much.

Playing harmonica is a great stress-relief.  If you play outside on your back porch, it's a great "breath of fresh air" (I guess that depends on where you live).  For some reason many people are attracted to the sound of a harmonica, and will instinctively tap their toes or clap along.

Occasionally, I work on the chromatic harmonica, which has a lever to allow to you make the notes sharp.  This gives you more flexibility to play all the sharps and flats (similar to piano), and play a wider variety of music.  The chromatic harp is a lot more challenging than the diatonic harp, but I enjoy the challenge.  The chromatic harp gives you the ability to play songs that are generally not possible to play on diatonic harp (unless you are Howard Levy).

As my time permits, I teach group lessons for both Beginning Harmonica and Intermediate Harmonica.  I teach both guitar and harmonica in the Rutland, VT and central Vermont area