I think my very first post 16 months ago was about Harmonica Healing. I was going to a doctor of integrative medicine, and she recommended breathing exercises. The first night I tried to do them I was bored stiff. What she was talking about was a progression of relaxation exercises in which I was supposed to segment different parts of my body, relax them, and breathe.
She recommended a book I couldn't find. And the more I tried the exercises, the more tense I became. For example, I would focus on my left hand, try to relax it, breathe, and I would begin getting so tense, my hand would become cramped and then almost paralyzed (a writer's exaggeration), but you get my drift.
Let's segue-way to music healing. For years I had wanted to learn how to play the harmonica. I'd bought a few books that came with cheap harmonicas, and despite the fact that this was supposed to be a really easy instrument, I didn't make much progress. But I'd continue blowing and drawing on it (breathing in), and although I couldn't play one song, I found it highly relaxing.
So...after after a few nights of failing at breathing exercises, I was lying on my bed thinking, why can't I use my harmonica for breathing? I love the sound. I had progressed so that I could play single notes. Playing it always made me smile. Well, the end result was that "breathing on my harmonica" was a great success.
But I still wanted to play songs. So I bought Harmonica Americana by Jon Gindick, and made some progress. Oddly enough, not a lot. I had gotten way better at making notes, and breathing, but I still couldn't play a song without concentrating so hard that it defeated the purpose of playing.
So I stopped focusing on the songs and continued focusing on breathing. I bought a new harmonica that is much better and I bought Jon's second book Rock 'n Blues Harmonica. I still enjoyed it but I still couldn't play a song. But, more importantly, the harmonica was significantly helping me in my breathing relaxation program. And by now I was playing the Autoharp at my mother's assisted living facility with Monroe, a 90- year-old-resident who played the harmonica, and I was having a great time.
When my mother died last October, I had to stop playing the Autoharp for months because every time I played any of the songs I'd played for her and her friends, I started crying. A few months later, when Monroe died, I had to stop playing my harmonica --because every time I picked it up tears came to my eyes.
But...a few weeks ago, I learned that Jon Gindick was living about 30 miles away from me at the beach. I get his newsletter and I was thrilled to find him so close by. Then I saw that he was teaching at his house. Finally, I wrote him that I would love to learn to play the harmonica.
Today at 1:00 is my first harmonica lesson. I'm so excited, I have to remind myself to breathe. When I go to his house today for a group lesson, I'll be thinking of mama and Monroe, and smiling. Time is a healer. Somehow I know that my mom and Monroe will be smiling down on me from heaven. And my dad will be laughing out loud!
P.S. Since Coco and Bradley are already expressing interest in harmonicas, I'm going to list a few good sites. You can see John Gindick on his U-Tube site. He also has these jam camps throughout the country. You can learn about the harmonica on the following sites: Harmonica.com, The Blue Tongue Harmonica School, Dave Gage's site, and so many more.