How to Succeed with Harmonica

3. Good Teaching Tools

Convenience is the key to success for most products. One click shopping has fueled Amazon's growth. Microwave popcorn has replaced the older saucepan and stovetop method (which tasted better).

Similarly, a teaching method must be convenient to use, otherwise failure is more likely. For example, many teaching books are bound so that they don't remain open. As a result, they often remain shut.

Good teaching tools are convenient ones, which fit student needs. Music teaching has specific needs, the Internet provides new and effective ways to meet them.

This article describes how Internet teaching tools can make you a better player.

Learning music is like learning to speak. Small phrase are learnt, which combine to form longer sentences (i.e. tunes, blues solos). These phrases are best learnt by hearing them, over and over.

However, even the best teacher will tire after the fifteenth repetition. CDs (and prior to that, cassette tapes) have been a wonderful music teaching tool. Your teacher, on the CD, can repeat phrases endlessly. This repetiton is essential for learning.

CDs have problems however. A course with 100 examples would need 2 CDs, each with 50 tracks. Finding the phrase to be learnt, which may be track 36 on CD 2, is tedious. Also, listening to part of a CD track is difficult. Usually the whole track has to start again.

The Internet solves these problems. Harmonica University has over 1000 audio tracks, far too many for a CD based course, but easily managed on a web site, where each track. has its own player. Try this one

Notice how you can stop the track at any stage, drag the small white pointer back, then release it to hear the same section again (and again). Very convenient. The track, incidentally, is from Junior Year Blues lesson 9.

For many, learning an instrument is motivated by a desire to play with others. In particular, many wish (perhaps secretly) to play in a band. This is a worthwhile and achievable goal for harmonica students.

It helps enormously to practice with a band in private before meeting real players. Band in a Box is a wonderful software tool, which provides a high quality practice band for almost any type of music.

Harmonica University uses Band in a Box tracks extensively. Students therefore learn to play along with other instruments, right from the start. For example, the first lesson has this track.

Later you will meet this one

Then, perhaps much later, this one.

Notice how the band keeps playing after the harmonica part finishes. This allows the student to immediately try their own version of the tune.

The web based music player and backing tracks are essential music teaching tools. The convenience of use are keys to rapid improvement.

After some initial progress with the harmonica, you may wish to play with others. Strategies for doing this are outlined in part 4 of this series.

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