Practiced harmonica last night for maybe two hours. Trying to learn some Christmas songs. After wanting to for years, I took up the instrument – can you call a harmonic an instrument; doesn’t seem fair to violin players – I took up the instrument last spring after watching the movie Australia.
In the final scene, a little Aborigine boy plays “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as his ship sails into a bombed-out Darwin harbor. The music says all is well; the boy and the other orphans have been rescued.
Anyway, the simple melody on the simple instrument touched me deeply. I got on the Internet, bought a harmonica and an instruction booklet, and, every time I play, I begin with that Judy Garland/Wizard of Oz classic.
I’ve never been very good with instruments. In the second grade, Mary Demus fired me as a piano student, my lack of talent exceeded only by my incorrigible attitude. Played tuba in the Canyon High School Marching Band. Again, wasn’t that good, but had fun anyway (can read about it here). As a camp director and youth pastor, I played the guitar – it’s part of the job description – but was at best mediocre.
Something’s different with the harmonica. Doubt if I’ll ever be that good, but I like it more than its predecessors. And the simple melodies – which sound best outdoors, maybe by a campfire – fit my lifestyle best.
Maybe instruments are like genres for writers. You play around with a number of them, until you discover your niche, your strength, your home.