Sing Out! Magazine Harmonica Teach-ins
My harmonica columns for Sing Out! magazine are part of a fifty-year old tradition. Regarding the history of the SO! teach-ins, editor Mark Moss writes, “The first instruction piece in SO! ran in 1953 (v.3, #7) ... a ‘how to read music’ piece, probably written by Pete Seeger (albeit unattributed). Next came a ‘how to teach guitar’ piece written by Bess Hawes in 1956 (v.6, #3).
“The first classic Sing Out! teach-in, though, wasn't until 1961, when Mike Seeger did a piece on playing autoharp in the "Stoneman Style" (v.11, #5). Teach-ins became a semi-regular feature somewhere around 1966 (during Happy Traum's tenure as assistant editor), then rose to prominence in 1971 (when Happy, and then Bob Norman, was editor) with a series of all-teach-in issues.
“Instructional pieces have remained a regular part of Sing Out! ever since.”
My teach-ins (www.singout.org) started running in 1989 and are listed below in chronological order. They were written in three series, each with a different focus.
When I first met SO! Editor Mark Moss in 1988, my first book, Irish and American Fiddle Tunes for Harmonica had just come out, so I suggested writing some columns on how to play fiddle tunes to him. The first six teach-ins followed that theme.
After 1992, the magazine moved from a digest size to a larger format, and suspended its teach-ins during 1993 while making the changeover. In the second series I usually alternated in between folk and blues ideas.
Sing Out! now includes an optional CD containing all the songs and teach-ins for each issue, so I’ve switched to transcribing solos from classic recordings. These have been blues solos so far, but in future issues I plan to include teach-ins on Southern Appalachian, Celtic, Cajun, and other genres of music that fall within the magazine’s scope. If you have enjoyed this book, I invite you to subscribe to Sing Out! and continue to learn more about the harmonica.
Vol. 34, # 1 - Winter 1989. Introducing fiddle tunes: Rakes of Mallow.
Vol. 34, # 3 – Summer 1989. The jig: Gallagher’s Frolic.
Vol. 34, # 4 – Fall 1989. The hornpipe: Alexander’s Hornpipe.
Vol. 35, # 2 –1990. The tremolo: Blind Mary.
Vol. 36, # 2 - Aug./Sept./Oct. 1991. Accentation in fiddle tunes: The Eighth of January, Rock the Cradle, Joe.
#1 – May/June/July 1992. Tongue blocking fiddle tunes: Spotted Pony.
Folk And Blues
Vol. 38, # 4 – Feb / March / April 1994. Lip blocking basics: Jacob’s Ladder.
Vol. 39, # 1 –May / June / July 1994. Introducing cross harp: Cross My Harp.
Vol. 39, #2 - Aug. / Sept./Oct. 1994. Wide leaps on the harmonica: The Old Folks at Home.
Vol. 39, #3 – Nov. / Dec 1994 / Jan 1995. Learning your way around the harp: Billy Boy.
Vol. 39, # 4 - Feb. / March / April 1995. Note bending: Around the Bend.
Vol. 40, #1 - May /
June / July 1995. Blues tongue blocking: Slaphappy Blues.
Vol. 40, #2 - Aug / Sept./ Oct. 1995. Sixteenth notes: Aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute.
Vol. 40, #3 – Nov. / Dec. 1995 / Jan 1996. Rack mounted harmonica: Jesse James.
Vol. 41, #1 – May / June / July 1996. The headshake: Use your Head.
Vol. 41, #2 - Aug. / Sept. / Oct. 1996. Backup harmonica: The Water is Wide.
Vol. 41, #3 – Nov / Dec 1996 / Jan. 1997. First position blues: Try a New Position.
Vol. 41, #4 – Feb. / March / April 1997. Tongue Blocking Waltzes: The Old Country Waltz.
Vol. 42, #2 – Fall 1997. Special blues harp effects.
Vol. 42, # 3 – Winter 1997. Modal music: Pigeon on the Gate.
Vol. 42, #4 - Spring 1998. Third position: St. James Infirmary.
Vol. 43, #2 - Fall 1998. The 12 – Hole marine band: Danny Boy.
Vol. 43, #4 - Summer
1999. Train Noises.
Vol. 48, #1 –
Cross Harp Tongue Blocking, Part II
Transcriptions from Recordings
Vol. 44, #1 – Fall 1999. Big Walter I: Big Walter’s Boogie
Vol. 44, #3 –
Spring 2000. Sonny Terry: That
Good Old Jelly Roll
Vol. 45, #1 - Spring 2001. Big Walter II: Careless Love
Vol. 45, #2 - Summer 2001. Little Walter: 44 Blues
Vol. 45, #4 –
Winter 2002. Teach-in: Honey Boy Edwards: Wind Howlin’ Blues
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