The “Tag Team” Harmonica Program

The “Tag Team” Harmonica class is offered by the Port Townsend Harmonic Union.  We have run two classes in person, and are working on a virtual setting to continue the fun.  Our mission is to provide clear instruction and practice opportunities that will enable you to progress from absolute beginner to a strong intermediate player.  We will be able to answer any questions that come up as we explain the various ideas involved in this instrument or music in general.

The program will start with how you can generate pleasant tones from your ten hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C.  We will use a building block approach for learning concepts and skills and chart a clear path from the simple to the complex music.  Your journey will include developing a repertoire of tunes that are satisfying to you.  Each tune will be filled with fun harmonica tones and techniques. We will share with you how you can learn to play by ear as well as read helpful tablature.  We will give you just enough music theory to help understand why and how the tunes do what they do.

Our program explores two part personality of the harmonica.  We can play tunes that express a melodic tone line such as in popular music or traditional old time fiddle music, or we can squeeze out the soulful spirits and emotions of the Blues as well as a hot stream of improvisational jazz.   Like shuffling a deck of cards, we are going to blend and intersperse these personalities in a manner that plays to the harmony in its name, harmonica.

Bringing Bob Longmire, “Chicago Bob” and George Yount, “PT George” together to share their harmonica skills and experiences and teaching abilities in one course is extremely unusual and unique.   They are the Johnny Appleseeds of spreading the joy of the harmonica.

Chicago Bob started on harmonica and guitar in the 1960s and has played continuously since then. After over 40 years in Chicago, the blues is still his preferred mode. He fronts the Midnight Train Blues Band, playing dance music and R&B several times a month (until this pandemic came along.) He’s been teaching for 20 years, including Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, Ashokan Fiddle and Dance camps, monthly blues jams in Chicago and Port Townsend, at Centrum and at Crossroads music.

PT George has been breathing through the harmonica for over 66 years.   A retired teacher, George has taught harmonica to primary students in schools throughout the Olympic peninsula.  For several years he taught harmonica for Peninsula College in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.  He has provided numerous workshops for the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association and at summer dance camps.  His expertise is on the “straight harp” side and his repertoire is old time fiddle music and popular music up through the 80’s.