MAX DE ALOE’S METHOD FOR CHROMATIC HARMONICA
THIS IS THE FINEST CHROMATIC HARMONICA METHOD BOOK
ON THE MARKET AT THIS TIME
Publisher: Sher Music Co., SherMusic.com, 800-444-7437, Petaluma, CA
A video on this fabulous book can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qPvcsaJD9U
In the world of chromatic harmonica method books, you see many different levels of quality, or excellence. On the low side are the little folded note charts which come free with harmonicas. From there you go to books created perhaps 30 years ago and now available in libraries. But on the top end, at the very top, you find modern and wonderfully crafted books that really do make a huge difference in how you, the chromatic harmonica player, progress, with top quality sound recordings and solos played by exceptionally gifted chromatic harmonica players.
Among these fine books is a marvelous book/cd combo, METHOD FOR CHROMATIC HARMONIC by the Italian composer and harmonica great, Max de Aloe. This is a translation from Italian to English, but it’s so well done, you’d never know it was translated, which I cannot say about many such books. It has a spiral binding, so stays open for easy reading, and the cover and back cover have a laminate finish so yogurt and liquids won’t damage either. I always seem to play at the kitchen table, do you do this too?
What you’ll find is an excellent progression of easy to grasp text, technical exercises for the chromatic harmonica, and my favorite in the package by far…the wonderful and I mean wonderful recordings you can play along with/ all at many different skill levels from beginner to expert. Now like the Mel Bay play along books, the CD with accompanies this book provides two recordings of each piece offered: the first is the recording of the piece with Max playing the chromatic harmonica solo. You can read along in the book, and then play along.
The second recording is the wonderful backup band, with no soloist, so you can play with them your own way.
This particular type of recording mix has many wonderful opportunities and benefits for you as a musician:
- Your first time through, just play along with Max and the band on track 1.
- When you get a little more familiar with the piece, you can play accompaniment, putting in notes you think work with track 1.
- Then move to track 2, where there is no soloist, and you play the solo all by yourself, reading the music assuming you read music.
- But my most favorite…. and this is only satisfying when the recording is of a wonderful band, play an improvisation on top of track 2.
- Then your final goal is to actual create another melody which goes along with the chord changes on track 2.
All told, you have many wonderful combinations available to you, all of which will make meaningful contributions to your playing. I usually get many days of practice from just one of the CD track groupings, and learn a lot from every one. Another thing I really like about this book is: I have a lot of method books, but many provide exercises based solely on chord theory, or were written for trumpet or saxophone or piano.
Max’s book offers progressive technical advice applicable specifically to the chromatic harmonica….this means the exercises are tied directly to some technical skill he wants you to learn about…such as using the slide to go from a draw B to a draw C with slide in, or perhaps learning to go from a blow note to a draw on another hole quickly. The exercises are not generic to any instrument, they are tailored to the chromatic harmonica and the specific technical challenges it presents, and it will spoil you.
This is certainly a wonderful approach, and what I actually do is work with Max’s book each day, then work with the chord theory books too…to double up. Overall, this book is the finest chromatic harmonica method book I’ve seen, and use mine daily. It is on the most highly recommended list of tutorial material, and I’m sure you’ll love it.
(My only complaint with this book is that I didn’t have it in my hands a year ago.)