How to Play a Harmonica
You can start with a cheap red plastic one
or a nice chrome and black harmonica
with its trademark and logo engraved on top.
Grasp the instrument with your left hand
between thumb and fingers, cup your right hand
around the back so you can modulate the sound,
add some tremolo for flair after you progress.
Note the chambers numbered one to ten.
Practice tucking your tongue against the holes,
one or two at a time, then alternate blowing
and sucking as you move left and right
slowly at first then fast like you are winded
from running uphill. When you learn to inhale
and exhale to make musical notes,
slide up and down the chambers again
working it back and forth like a glockenspiel.
As you get comfortable with the mouth mechanics
run it faster like you have just thirty seconds
to pass on the latest gossip to your neighbor.
Buy a beginners book, start playing
the simple tunes. Then progress with practice
until you can trumpet out Wabash Cannon Ball,
calling up the image of a passenger train
steam-whistling along the tracks,
the ghost of Roy Acuff peering down.
When you sit on your porch and perform,
if the birds come and perch nearby and tilt
their heads, and a mockingbird comes to study
in rapt attention, you’ll know
you’re making some good music.
Wesley D. Sims
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Wesley D.
be pleased to hear them.