SPAH members are as diverse as SPAH’s mandate. What unites them all is their passion for the harmonica and their willingness to support SPAH’s objectives. Here’s what some of those members have to say:
“Joining SPAH allows you to receive updates and happenings in the harmonica world via the SPAH newsletter. It’s also a great way to help the organization carry on its mission…If you love the instrument and music, then this is a great way to get involved. Being a member also gives you cheaper rates when attending their conventions.” Ronnie Shellist
“I would heartily recommend that any harmonica player join SPAH. Unlike some harmonica clubs and conventions that are competition based, SPAH is fraternity and education based. Everyone is there to make friends and learn…It should also be noted that SPAH stands for preservation and advance-ment. I went in excited about the advancement and became very interested in the preservation, beginning to earnestly learn to play the unusual harmonicas used regularly by harmonica bands of yesteryear and now playing these instruments in a rock band…This never would have happened without SPAH.” Michael Rubin
“I joined SPAH because I wanted to keep up with the world's greatest harmonica players, and had heard there's no better way than by joining SPAH. After being a member for many years now, I've found it to be really the only way to stay connected with all of the great veteran players out there, as well as all the up-and-comers. The newsletters are highly informative, and when it comes to the annual convention I can't say enough about the benefits of attending. There really is no better way I know to have access to the greatest players and instructors in the world and be up-to-date on all that's happening in their world than by being a SPAH member.” Buddy Greene
“I have been a member of this great society for well over 40 years. I fell in love with the harmonica when I was about 12 years old. When I first heard of SPAH I was thrilled that an organization existed where I could meet with others that enjoyed this wonderful, unique instrument like I did. I've attended almost every yearly convention and plan to continue attending as long as I can. With SPAH you get an opportunity to express yourself musically, enjoy others and their harmonica ideas and talents, the health benefits of the harmonica, but most of all, you share the harmonica fun with great friendly folks, the members of SPAH.” Bud Boblink
“Somewhere along the line, my harmonica teacher said, ‘Everyone should attend the SPAH convention at least once.’ When the time was right for me to do that, I joined SPAH in order to support the organization behind the convention – it seemed the least I could do. When I got there, I felt as though I had come home. The principal benefit that I get from SPAH membership is a strong sense of community and fellowship with others who are not just players, but enthusiasts. At the annual convention, I get to rub elbows with and learn from some of the best in the business, and I get to share what I know with players who are newer at this than I am. Outside the convention, SPAH members participate in a variety of online mailing lists, forums, and communities; we keep in touch, we share knowledge and we cheer one another on. If I were learning ‘in a vacuum’, I might well have given up by now. Being a member of this harmonica community is an important part of my staying in the game, continuing to learn and grow as a player.” Elizabeth H.
“I joined SPAH in order to be able to participate in the harmonica community in the USA. Of course the biggest benefit has been the life changing experiences of attending the conventions, but I have also acquired a whole new social circle which includes a considerable number of people who I consider to be among my dearest friends. The only problem is, they all seem to be harmonica players.” Steve Baker
“Judy and I are SPAH members because it is a perfect way to be in touch with harmonica players and know what is happening in the harmonica world. Being SPAH members for more than 30 years has allowed us to meet and associate with nearly all our harmonica heroes whose talent we have admired so much through the years. SPAH has added an immeasurable amount of pleasure to our lives.” Al and Judy Smith, the Harmonica Hotshots
“My Grandfather played harmonica…I picked it up…and never put it down. I attended my first SPAH in 2009 and it truly opened my eyes to the fact that the harmonica has no limits and that all kinds of music can be played on it and of the sheer joy everyone that plays gets from it. Since then I have studied daily with different teachers and played daily to just grow…I plan to never leave this wonderful organization.” Nedra Russ
“I would say, if I had to pick one single source that advanced my career as a harmonica player more than anything else, it would be SPAH hands down. I have been a member of SPAH and attended every year since my first performance at the Dallas SPAH 2003. Since then, I have been invited to more harmonica festivals than all the years prior combined. I am excited to have SPAH coming back to Dallas again this year.” Jimi Lee
“Lonnie [Glosson] and I had become friends and enjoyed some time together. One of the things that he kept after me to support was SPAH. The concept was sound enough, so I joined. I never expected to attend an event, but I certainly was on-board with the idea of showing the harmonica to be more than the toy it is supposed to be by reputation. I now work the SPAH convention every year, helping others discover and understand bluegrass music and how it can be played on the harmonica…SPAH and its convention is all about the ‘possible’ and so am I.” Cara Cooke
“I joined SPAH kind of accidentally! I was invited by Victor Yun to be part of the Harmonicas and Health seminar in St. Louis in 2008…and I loved every minute! I play children's songs and folk songs, but mostly chords…[as] my own main focus continues to be respiratory therapy…During the ensuing three conferences…[I] found [I] really love being part of this group!” Mary Jane Gormley
"Why did I join? It was the right thing to do, especially since I attended and continued to attend SPAH [conventions]; it was a cheap price to pay for the return on the investment. And what does SPAH mean to me? Good folks past, present and future, as good a brother/sisterhood as there is and hands down, a fantastic opportunity for a learning experience in an inviting environment. I have been fortunate to be able to be a part of it." Dan Ruppa
“In 1977 I was 12 years old when attending my very first SPAH convention. My parents thought that I should have a membership in SPAH, and signed me up right away--I am SPAH member #1011. Through my many years of convention attendance, I have been able to network with other harmonica professionals from all over the world. This network has become a circle of friends...friendships which are long lasting because of the strong bond that we hold in common...to preserve and advance the harmonica.” George Miklas
“I believe I have been an active member of SPAH since 1982, [joining] because I enjoyed being around people who loved to play the harmonica and was proud of it…I did not realize the enthusiasm in America towards the harmonica. When I first attended a SPAH convention in Romulus, MI, I was inspired to become even more proficient playing the harmonica. It was like family, everyone was very supportive and encouraging.
My grandfather taught and inspired me to play harmonica at age 7, but SPAH nourished and encouraged me to continue to be a better player. The friendships that have developed are very special to me and I hope to continue to attend and be part of this great organization.” Phil Duncan