Harmonica Lesson with Howard Levy

Howard Levy

Right after the coffee shop jam, I headed out to Aberdeen, North Carolina, to catch Howard Levy performing in the Rooster’s Wife music series. I got there just in time, and enjoyed two hours of solo harmonica and piano tunes and improvisation. He played jazz, blues, Latin music, spirituals, and, if I remember right, even some rock’n’roll. Several of his tunes referenced both Middle Eastern and Eastern European music.

I got up my nerve after the show and asked if he’d be free to meet with me the next day for a lesson, and he graciously agreed. I drove home on cloud 9 and in the morning headed back to Aberdeen, where I met Howard at his B&B. We sat out on the porch and he had me play a little bit and asked me a few questions about my interests. Then we went over a bunch of stuff to walk me to where I wanted to go.

Subjects included: simple jazz tunes, how to play two notes and only bend one of them, different kinds of vibrato, keeping a drone going while playing a melody on top, tongue rhythms, sound effects, tongue blocking, trills, bending overblows, and basic reed adjustments.

Basically, I’d made a list of things I thought I heard him do in the concert, and just asked him how to do them. He broke things down into components and was patient while I tried them out, even though we were moving fast and covering a lot of material.

Pretty awesome, overall, and pretty much a lifetime of work, although to my surprise, some of the “impossible” things I tried at his suggestion actually worked right off the bat. Thanks for everything, Howard!

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