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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Harmonica, 2nd Edition Paperback – October 3, 2006

ISBN-13: 002-1898574657 ISBN-10: 1592574653 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA; 2nd edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592574653
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592574650
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Melton is a classically trained musician. He has toured Europe with several symphonies. Currently, he makes his living as an attorney but plays the harmonica whenever he can.

Randy Weinstein is nationally known professional harmonica player. He has been featured at international music festivals and plays with several jazz bands. He teaches music theory.

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Customer Reviews

So far, this book is very comprehensive and fun to read.
Jo More
It covers what harmonicas to purchase (and the advice is good, the listing of brands fairly complete.)
Joanna Daneman
Just about any instruction will suffice for getting things rolling on learning playing the harmonica.
Louis S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you tried Jon Gindick's harmonica technique (he wrote a simple method and bundled it with an inexpensive harmonica in the Klutz books series) you might find you are interested in learning more. There are a lot of books on harmonica method, and they range from too simple to too complicated.
This book is surprisingly good. It covers what harmonicas to purchase (and the advice is good, the listing of brands fairly complete.) There is a section on bending notes, an essential technique for getting more notes out of a diatonic harmonica and for creating a bluesy sound.
The best chapter, for me, was on the structure of 12-bar blues with an explanation of the "call-and-response" structure. It's easy to understand and essential for structuring your blues riffs to make musical sense. There's also a fine chapter on the etiquette of jamming with harmonica when you join up with a guitarist, singer and other instrumentalists. The harmonica plays support, mostly, but does get to solo. When should you chime in and when do you fade to the background? This chapter tells you how not to make a fool of yourself.
The only thing this book doesn't have is a CD with guitar or piano for jamming along with. If you are getting started in harmonica, especially blues harp, you will need some CD's, especially of the greats like Little Walter and Charles Musselwhite, to provide examples. You can't listen enough to get the ideas down. But this book is a really worthy text to go along with your practice.
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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is surprisingly good for a book written for "complete idiots". I expected something very basic but it covers just about every aspect of learning to play a harmonica up to a pretty high level. It goes way beyond simple techniques. One thing I found unique is that the authors treat the harmonica like a real musical instrument instead of just a toy. They explain concepts and techniques from the standpoint of real music but it doesn't get bogged down or complicated. They even give you the option of learning to play the harmonica by reading music or by the more standard tab system, and the chapter that teaches you how to read music is extremely easy to understand. It also includes some information not usually included in harmonica books such as the history of the harmonica, buying and repairing harmonicas and how to play in a band. There are other books that may be better on individual topics, but this is by far the most complete soup-to-nuts harmonica instruction book. I recommend this be the first harmonica book you buy and then you probably won't need to buy any others.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Carl A. Barlow III on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've read music, sung, and played piano and violin, so your mileage may vary, but I was playing some simple songs the first and second day I had the book. I think it's organized well, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much is covered in the music theory chapter.

Two things that would really help a lot: (1) A CD so you can hear the examples, and (2) Proof read the music! There are many mistakes, not only on the songs that are written out in tablature, but even in the samples that are written in standard music notation. Very frustrating to have to wonder on each example what I'm doing wrong, only to eventually experiment and find the RIGHT note (usually just the difference between a blow and draw on the tab versions) and correct the music. I also agree with a previous post that it would have been nice if they had continued supplying suggestions on which notes should have chords underlying the melody and which should not, but I'm not really bothered by that omission.

Here's the good news: the author/publisher could go a long way towards solving BOTH these problems without even issuing a new revision (although that would be ideal...I'd buy the book again if it was accurate and had a CD): they could post an errata page and post mp3 files for the sample music (I know, I know, copyright laws, mechanical licenses, etc., but many of these songs like Shenandoah are public domain, some are originals, and I'm not suggesting to post the original ARRANGEMENTS anyway...just files where you could listen to the melody).

I still found this book valuable, but I'll definitely need another book of music for my practice sessions--preferably one with an accompanying CD.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. Hernandez on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the only Harmonica book I own so I don't have much to compare it with and I am only on chpt. 4 but I am definately liking this book. It introduces you to the world of the harmonica in a way that doesn't make you feel like a COMPLETE idiot, and that its ok to be totally ingnorant about the subject. So far, I feel that all my questions and doubts are being addressed, and even those I hadn't thought of. It is an easy read and even makes me chuckle every so often, not at all tedious.

A good buy, worth every cent...so far.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was one three harmonica instruction books I bought, and clearly the best. for the best part is its organization, which is easy to follow even for a beginner. It has the usual Complete idiot's Guide structure which emphasizes making it easy to read and find things, like a complete index, easy to read forma, and tips and tricks which are hi-lighted. The resource guide at the end is also useful and gives you additional instructional material, harmonica websites and organizations, magazines and places to purchase harmonicas, etc.
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