This blog is one of a series. Each includes one of the students’ final projects from my online course “Blues: Harp-Style” along with  their answers to five questions I asked them to answer. You can but nobody embraced the spirit of imperfect completion like Jeff – and this is his original “Embrace Imperfection” Blues. At the beginning of the course, Jeff told me his goal was to be able to play both hands at once.  I’d say he aced that goal big-time!

Watch & Comment at YouTube

Jeff’s Answers to my Five Questions:

– Give a short description of what it took for you to get to the place of being able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally

Logistically I faced the currently unending struggle to get my fingers to play what I hear / want to hear. To get to the place where I could execute what I did, I simply had to get down off the hotshot attempt and play simple, underlying structure, the equivalent of playing a simple strum on a guitar.

– What freedoms and blocks in yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

As spelled out in the previous answer: I really want to be able to put more “harp” in my harp blues. I want to be able to execute more licks, to play both hands together, to build a more exciting harp structure to underlay my vocals. That was the block.

The freedom was giving myself permission to get down off that horse and just play something. I wasn’t that disappointed in the result, which was another freedom.

– What challenges did you meet to connect with your own freedom of expression in this project?

One challenge was that I find myself unable to “entertain” a camera. I’m not comfortable looking at it or singing to it. I went and got my wife, who hasn’t been that thrilled with this process, and asked her for help, that she would come and be my audience, sit in front of the camera and give me a real person to perform for. She did, and that helped out a lot.

I also had Debora’s feedback from my previous “half-baked” final in my ears and mind, and that, too, told me to let my entertainer self shine through.

I enjoy entertaining people. I always have. That’s the whole point here for me.

– What were your personal “Ahas”?

? The comfort I felt when I just backed off the fancy stuff and played simple harp. It was still rough in spots, but I felt much better.?? How much easier it was for me to play for a person as distinct from a camera. I’ve always known this, but it was still an “Aha.”

? There’s an actual for-real four note right hand lick in there that goes as quick and smooth as I’d ever want it to go.  I never knew I got it in there until I watched the vido.

?  I’m making some actual progress.

?  I can pretty much make up lyrics as I go, which might be handy on the streets. “Tell me your story, I’ll sing you a song.”

Is there anything else you want to tell people looking at this video?

The first thing I’d like to do is thank Deborah for her combination of pulling me along and building my confidence along the way.  The other class members, as well, have been so  supportive.

My harp journey is at the very beginning, with just a few months experience at finding the string I want.  Through this course I have been able to focus on “wanting” the strings and sounds that speak to me and my preferred music.  Now my practice is better focused on my personal goals.


The next “Blues: Harp-Style” course begins July 29th and runs through the end of August 2013.

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