Time to Play

First Song on Harmonica: When the Saints Go Marching In

Hello everyone! This is the first post on my new blog, Time to Play. Today I recorded my first song on harmonica, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Trust me when I say this was a brave act!


This is a diatonic harmonica in the key of C; a good choice for beginners like myself. Unlike chromatic harmonicas, this one plays only the notes included in the standard western scale. In C, these pitches include A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, without any flats or sharps.

Actually I own two harmonicas; the other is in the key of G. Both were made by Lee Oskar, a commonly recommended brand for beginners. They were a gift from my mom, and I believe they were acquired about 15 years ago at the Kelischeck Workshop for Historical Instruments in Brasstown, NC.

Why Harmonica? Why Now?

Over the years I have occasionally pulled the harmonicas out and made half-hearted honking noises. What, you might ask, pushed me to attempt more now?

The answer is airplane baggage restrictions. I am planning for a cross-country trip next year involving music, but my usual instrument (violin) is quite inconvenient to travel with on airplanes.

It is generally possible to take a violin as your carry-on item and put it in the overhead bin. However, one runs the risk of not having enough space and being forced to check the instrument. This is a dangerous prospect due to the dramatic temperature shift in the hold and the likelihood of it being violently knocked about during transport.

Thus, I’ve decided it is time to learn how to play a more portable instrument. An inexpensive harmonica is fairly sturdy, compact, and easy to tuck into a backpack or suitcase. With this in mind, I made my first attempt at playing a full song on harmonica. I’m fairly proud of the result!

When The Saints Go Marching In

Let’s see how much I can improve over the next 8 months or so!