I'm stoked to start the New Year with our Harmonica Studio Legend, Horst Wieser from Germany. You guys are probably familiar with Horst 's wonderful playing. Let's listen to his duo performance of Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3. How sweet it its!
Give him some love in the comments below!
Interview with Horst
What harmonica model(s) do you play?
All kinds and alternately, different Hohner, Seydel, Suzuki, Kongsheng, Easttop, but mainly 12-hole. For practicing I mostly take older instruments or those that are not so easy to play anymore. I am all the more pleased when I can use my better models for a recording or a performance. At the moment I like my Seydel Symphony or Suzuki Chromatix best.
When did you start learning harmonica?
Far, far in the past, in my youth, I had already started to learn some blues harp. I grew up in the country, and at that time it was almost impossible to get any information there. I don't remember in what way, but somehow, probably on vacation in France, I came across a textbook by J. J. Milteau - in French. I struggled through it from cover to cover with my two years of school French, translating sentence by sentence. I met Milteau once in Trossingen, but he was not particularly interested in my translation. Not long after that I put the harps aside for a long time.
I found my way back to active music making only decades later. I learned French horn by self-study and played mostly as a substitute in various orchestras, mostly amateur symphony orchestras. And I had a good brass
quintet in which everyone played much better than I did. At the end of 2017 I lost my job, until then I had been in the home office and could practice horn every now and then during the day. Now I was doing professional development to become a technical writer, which meant I could have practiced horn only rarely and in the evenings. I couldn't do that to my flatmates and neighbors. With tears in my eyes, I hung up the horn. I had to find a small, portable instrument that I could take with me everywhere.
Although I could already bend and overblow to some extent, the blues harp was a bit too one-sided for me - I didn't know all the masters like Konstantin Rheinfeld or Howard Levy and many others at that time. However, I knew and admired Toots Thielemans for quite some time, Stevie Wonder anyway. My wife plays concert guitar, and after we had successfully survived the first Christmas songs together (me on an old Chrometta), the further path became clearer. That was about 2015/2016.
What are your top 3 favorite songs to play?
That changes every now and then. But I will not get tired of some film music, bossas or old hits such as "Parole, Parole", "Desafinado" or "Il postino". In the future I'm sure some jazz standards will be added.
What are some of your musical goals?
Having just disbanded our trio (guitar, guitar, harmonica): I really want to perform with other musicians again. When I retire in a few years, I want to be able to improvise on the harmonica over chord progressions. Maybe I can earn a little extra here and there, the pension alone will not be enough.
How long have you been a Harmonica Studio member?
By July 2020, I had saved long enough to afford membership. The Corona pandemic helped me make that decision. That I would join sooner or later had been clear to me for some time.
What do you like about it? How has it helped you?
I haven't been around long enough to have a complete overview. At the moment, I really like the systematic approaches to working out a jazz standard. And it's also very nice that you can expect a competent answer
to every question.I also really like the virtual harmonica ensemble.
Bluesette reminded me of a time when I often played horn quartets with my buddies in the French horn section. What fun that was! Since I practice a lot more when I have a specific goal, it helps to have a monthly challenge. It gets me going faster than anything else. I
will gradually take on the Monthly Challenges from before I joined as well.
What’s your favorite courses/lessons on Harmonica Studio?
As I said, the workouts are the highlights for me at the moment. But I also really like the looks beyond jazz, such as French songs, a stretching course or the interviews with the harmonica greats.