One of the first things I learned about David Schnaufer when I started my research was that the dulcimer was not his first instrument; the jaw harp and the harmonica were two instruments he began playing as a child. David's childhood buddy John taught me a lot about harmonicas when I interviewed him; it was so fascinating that I included portions of our interview in Pluck in which John explains much of what the dulcimer and the harmonica have in common. It seems as if David was just as passionate about the harmonica when he was young as he would be later when he discovered the dulcimer.
I found this image of a Hohner C harmonica, the first model that David played, according to his buddy John. I don't know if David's first harmonica looked exactly like this one, but it was a Hohner. David had family and cultural ties to Germany, and so did his harmonica. I learned that David carried a case full of his jaw harps, but I never found out what happened to his first harmonica. If someone out there knows, please share the story in a comment below.
During the early research for Pluck, I learned about the great Sam Hinton--himself a virtuoso--of the harmonica. Like the dulcimer, the harmonica is a diatonic instrument and a gateway to our musical heritage through traditional songs.Take a peek at this first video of a series of Sam's tutorials on harmonicas and their music. Sam passed away in 2009, but thank goodness his tutorials are preserved on the internet. Who knows? Some young boy or girl might also learn the harmonica as he or she begins a personal journey as a music maker. Wouldn't the world be a much better place if everyone were to become music makers?