2015 Seminars

Here's a list of seminars and activities at the 2015 SPAH Convention in Denver. The complete schedule is posted on SPAH's home webpage.


Computer Made Backing Tracks-Saturday 1:30 p.m. in the Copper Mountain Room
Bill Dulin
Can’t find backup players? Not a problem. Bill will demonstrate and explain an easy method to create your own backup band. Bring your laptop for maximum participation.

Introducing “Boogieman”-Thursday 10:30 a.m. in the Telluride Room
Marko Balland & Randy Landry
Join Marko and Randy of Lone Wolf Blues as they introduce and demonstrate a new effects pedal created for Marko. These folks always have something new to add for a unique sound.

Basic Chromatic Maintenance and Repair-Friday 10:30 a.m. in the Copper Mountain Room
Greg Jones
Learn basic chromatic maintenance and repair tips from Greg, the U.S. Seydel technician, to keep your chromatic on stage making music. Topics include slide adjustment and cleaning, wind saver replacement, and over all troubleshooting.


Adhering to the Harmonic Structure
Ron Kalina
Need some jazz theory for the chromatic? Join Ron as he demonstrates and explains his passion for jazz.

Advantages of Playing Country Tuned
Larry Regen
Everyone is invited to learn the benefits of country tuned harmonicas. Bring your C C/T harp if you have one.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Saturday 3:00 p.m.
All SPAH members are invited to participate in shaping SPAH's future. Come and let your voice be heard.

Bass Playing by Ear
Bill Morris
Every harmonica player should have this basic skill. Join Bill to get started.

Beginner's Blues Jam
Michael Rubin
Bring a C diatonic or chromatic to join in the ever-popular morning blues workshop. All beginners are welcome and participation is encouraged. Michael will de-mystify the blues for you on Wed., Thurs. and Fri. mornings.

Beginning Blues Harp
Dan Treanor
Here's the place to start with all the basics. So bring a C harp to learn and work on basic techniques, some theory about keys and positions, and how to practice and use an amp. Session ends with a jam.

Beginning Classical Chromatic Playing
Alexandra Mueller
For those of you who enjoy classical music, or wish to, and have a need to start somewhere, bring your chromatic and Alexandra, who will also be performing on the main stage, will share her skills and knowledge.

Blues Improvisation
Ronnie Shellist
In this interactive seminar, you will gain some insight as to how you can build your improvisational skills in a blues setting. We will primarily use C and A harps. All levels are welcome. Be prepared to take notes as Ronnie helps you discover the power of focusing on rhythm and groove first, as a foundation from which to build musical ideas.

Blues, Jazz & Rock on Diatonic Harmonicas
Bring A & D harps to participate. Explore new musical places, open your imagination, experiment and practice the "good mistakes".

Blues Tips, Licks and Tricks
Connor Frontera
This seminar will focus on how to incorporate the fundamentals of blues harmonica techniques within melodic, rhythmic, and improvisational pieces. It will aim to encourage players to explore techniques such as bends, trills, tongue flutters, melodic runs, scales, overblows, etc. This course is intended for intermediate to advanced players, but all levels are welcomed, especially beginners, who will be getting a head start, beginning to think about making songs rather than just improvising, knowing how to create rounds (which will be explained), and keeping up stamina. Please bring C, A, G Diatonic Harmonicas, and C Chromatic harmonica.

Blues Without Bends
Larry Regen
Bring a C harp and learn from a full time diatonic teacher how to play those non-bending riffs

Buy, Sell or Trade
New at SPAH in 2015. There will not be a SPAH Store at the Convention this year. However, all members are invited to bring their “harmonica stuff” to the Vail Ballroom on Friday between 1 and 4 p.m. Find space on a table and you’re set to go. You can get rid of some old treasures or acquire new ones. You are responsible for all your items.

Duo Playing-Part 1 & 2
Joe Filisko & Eric Noden

Effortless Singing for Harmonica Players
Brenda Freed
Would you like to feel more confident about singing or be able to front your own band? Brenda has an MA in Music Education/Music Therapy. She has been performing since childhood and has been teaching voice for over 20 years to all ages, ranging from those who could not match pitch to experienced singers. Brenda is intuitive and has the ability to pinpoint vocal problems and offer suggestions on how to make immediate improvement. Her techniques include how to : breathe properly, project and avoid hoarsness, increase vocal range and stamina, improve pitch and tone, and become more confident about singing. This workshop is designed to be experiential, fun and applicable for all participants. Handouts provided.

Effortless Harmony Singing for the Harmonica Player
Brenda Freed
Would you like to play and sing descants so that you can provide interesting accompaniments to a singer? In this workshop, participants will learn the basic music theory of harmony and experience singing and playing harmonies with each other. "Brenda Freed can have you singing intricate harmonies in a matter of minutes - even if you've never done it before. Her warm, friendly, yet knowledgeable approach is perfect for both the beginner and the seasoned artist" (Workshop Participant). This workshop is designed to be educational, experiential and fun. Handouts provided.

Every Groove a Bluesman Needs to Know
Jimi Lee
Jimi does it all. Plays harmonica and guitar, sings, hosts jams and backs up other players. He knows the grooves, so bring a C and A harp or your chromatic to participate.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Custom Harmonica Combs but Were Afraid to Ask
Tom Halchak
Everyone is invited to join Tom, of Blue Moon Harmonicas, to a relaxed conversation about why custom harmonica combs are in such demand. Do they really make a difference? What are the advantages? What's his story and what does the future hold?

Exploring the Dimi: An Introduction to the Diminished Layout Chromatic Harmonica
Jason Rogers
Having just written Exploring the Dimi, Jason will answer why one would want to play a Dimi. He will compare the Dimi Chromatic to the Solo Chromatic and discuss and demonstrate approaches to getting started on the Dimi layout with its three patterns of four notes to play all Major scales. An introduction to enharmonics, exercises and melodies are also included.

The Filisko Teach-in
Join Joe and all his special guests on Thurs., Fri. and Sat. for a series of mini-workshops on every aspect of the harmonica. Don't miss the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with experts in their fields.

Fundamentals for Chromatic Control-Part 1-Beyond Scales
Neil Adler
A review of the basic skills necessary for control of playing the chromatic harmonica. Handouts will be given for exercises that develop control and facility towards any type of music. Bring your chromatic.

Fundamentals for Chromatic Control-Part 2-Tone, Melody and Improvisation
Neil Adler & Guest
Intermediate and advanced chromatic players are invited to join two professionals who will review the concepts of tone, melody and improvisation. Emphasis will be on applying fundamental skills in a proficient, musical and creative manner. Practice methods including advanced exercises, skills and use of play-along backing tracks will be demonstrated.

The Fundamentals of Diatonic Harmonica for Beginners-Part 1
Jon Gindick
Starting with breath, embouchure, articulation and timing (B.E.A.T.), Jon will help raw beginners and frustrated intermediates develop better Cross Harp tone and precise, effortless bending. Bring your C diatonic harp.

The Fundamentals of Diatonic Harmonica for Beginners-Part 2
Jon Gindick
Continuing with breath, embouchure, articulation and timing (B.E.A.T.), Jon will help raw beginners and frustrated intermediates develop better Cross Harp tone and precise, effortless bending. Bring Your C diatonic harp.

The Fundamentals of Diatonic Harmonica for Beginners-Part 3
Jon Gindick
Jam with Jon to Non I-IV-V songs. He will play rack harmonica and his guitar to get you playing and jamming to a variety of songs, chord progressions and keys, and positions, bluesy and melodic. Bring common keys.

Gary Allegretto’s Harmonikids Session for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Denver
Gary Allegretto returns to SPAH on Saturday with Harmonikids, his multiple award winning 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has provided the therapeutic joy of learning music on harmonicas to children with special challenges worldwide for thirty years. Missions have included those traumatized by such natural disasters as the earthquake in Haiti, tsunami in Indonesia, hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, and thousands of places in between.  In Allegretto’s words, “Harmonikids provides challenged children shiny new harmonicas and gentle, entertaining music lessons, often in the most devastating time of their life. My special method engages them and provides a positive means of self expression crucial to their recovery. In addition to physical and post-traumatic stress relieving benefits, we have seen Harmonikids programs effectively replenish self-esteem, confidence, hope, and joy into children’s lives. Simply stated, Harmonikids helps nurture their spirits and help them return to being kids again…. or as I like to say, they find the healing joy of music - right under their nose.” (www.harmonikids.org)

The "Gazell Method" for Chromaticity and Expression
PT Gazell
If you have heard him play, you will have experienced his uniqueness. Join PT as he shares his experience and technique and demonstrates his instruments.

Generation Integration
Janalyn Miklas
Everyone is invited to join Janalyn to share and discuss ideas for the future of SPAH and set a goal to help build up the next generation through the “Veterans” of this beautiful organization. 

Hallway Blues Jams
Jimi Lee
Join Jimi on Wed., Thurs. & Fri. at 4 p.m. Hallway to be announced. Bring a fun hat and your harps.

Harmonica Adjustments
Bertram Becher
Learn to adjust the standard out-of-the-box harmonica for improved tone control, bending, and overblowing. The out-of-the-box harmonica is adjusted to meet the basic needs of the majority of players; however, each player from beginner to professional is unique. Adjustment and customization can dramatically improve reed response and tone control. This workshop will take the mystery out of adjustments and customization by providing the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to make adjustments, making the harmonica a truly individual and intimate instrument. Amongst his other talents, Bertram just happens to be Seydel's Product Manager.

Harmonica Fun 101
Lonnie Joe Howell
Learn to create some unique diatonic sounds with some useful techniques. Don't forget to bring a C diatonic to participate .

How to Play in Every Song at a Gig without Becoming Boring
Boris Plotnikov
This seminar is for chromatic and diatonic players. Boris will discuss the main roles in a band, ways to play lead, chord and bass, and tricky ways to play rhythm by using technique and electronic effects.

An Introduction to Several Styles of Brazilian Music for Harmonica Players
Ilya Portnov
Looking for another musical genre in which to express yourself? Bring a C harmonica to join Ilya and he will begin your introduction to Brazilian music.

Jazz Harmonica: Chromatic or Diatonic? Or Both?
Both the chromatic and the diatonic play a role in the  jazz world. This seminar will examine and demonstrate the skills and techniques required on each instrument and how they compliment each other.

Learn to Play The Orange Blossom Special
Clay Kirkland
Bring A & D harps to participate in this workshop concentrating on this harmonica classic.

The Magic of the Trio
Mo Vint, Buddy Boblink & Bill Morris
Lead, chord and bass, each has role contributing to the overall sound. Everyone is invited to listen, discuss and ask questions.
Modern Recording and Production for Harmonica Players
John Shirley
This seminar will present an overview of the entire recording process: from preproduction to mastering. Topics will include microphone choice and placement, studio acoustics, levels, phase alignment, DAWs, audio interfaces, bit depth, sample rate, latency, editing and comp tracks, as well as how to use EQ, dynamics and effects. Important differences between the use of DAW channel inserts versus aux sends/returns, as well as automation groups versus audio subgroups, will be presented. While particular attention will be paid to recording the harmonica, general approaches to other common instruments, including the voice, will also be addressed. Examples will be drawn from various sources including John's recent EP, Not So Blue, recorded in his spare bedroom (see link on the SPAH homepage).

Nightly Blues, Country and Jazz Jams
If you came here to participate, here's your opportunity. Each jam has a host to guide you through the process. Our guitar playing friends and other musicians will be there.

Open Mic Sessions
Marvin Monroe 
Everyone gets to play, solo or with backup. Marv will act as host.

Performing Using a Standard/Straight Harmonica
Phil Duncan
Having just put out his latest book, Dirt Simple Harmonica, Phil, a player, teacher and writer, welcomes all to attend his workshop. Bring a C harp.

Playing the Chord and What's Between
Wally Peterman
Wally, with the help of his special guests Tony Sgro, Buddy Boblink, George Miklas and Bill Morris, will help you understand the chord by focusing on learning the chord harmonica "chord patterns", a part of your bag of tools, understanding tongue blocking and the world of split chords and determining what chord to play with the bass.

The Pulmonary Harmonica for Non-Musicians
Dana and Mary Lou Keller
Not only is it good for your health, it's very playable. The Kellers will discuss and demonstrate The Pulmonica, a specially constructed and tuned instrument.

Racking Up and Rocking Out
Lonnie Joe Howell
Everyone is invited to learn the dynamaics between harmonica and guitar using a rack. Lonnie Joe will demonstrate various musical styles. Bring a C diatonic and rack, if you have one, to participate.

Rhythmic Embellishment for Harmonica Players
Bertram Becher
Music is composed of tones, pauses, and rhythm. It is said that you need to have rhythm in your blood. We will explore how rhythmic elements can be used to create more varied and interesting harmonica improvisations. This introduction includes systematic exercises designed to enhance awareness and fluidity with different rhythms and feelings in harmonica music, bringing the player to a higher level in musical exploration. Bring A and C diatonics.

The "Sonny Boys"
Michael Cohen & Fred Akins
The first part of this two-part seminar will cover John Lee Williamson and the birth of the harmonica front man ending with a comparison of the styles of the two Sonny Boys. The second session will concentrate on Rice Miller and his stylistic differences from J.L. Williamson.There are Powerpoint presentations, videos and opportunities for audience participation (so bring your harps and Sonny Boys' licks). 

SSCH-56: The Suzuki Compact Slide Harmonica
Gary Lehmann
Looking for something new to play? Join Gary as he presents and demonstrates the capabilities of this unique chord instrument in a variety of musical genres. You can prepare by going to: www.facebook.com/groups/chord56/

Stage Presence and How to Create Magical Moments Onstage
Jarred Goldweber
If you are going to get on the stage, you need some skills. Jarred will cover how to work on stage, engage an audience, create a personal vibe and find places in music that cause audience reaction.

Third Position Playing Made Easy
Don McRee
If you can play a single note and have elementary bending skills, bring  A, C, D, & G harps, to learn a new skill playing in a variety of musical genres.

Vibrato Plus
Bob McFarlane and Special Guests
What is it and when to use it? Bob is the Master of Vibrato and he'll share his technique with you in this workshop. Bring your chromatic, or diatonic, to work on this skill.

Welcome to the SPAH Convention
Manfred Wewers
Is this your first SPAH Convention? Beginner player? Have questions? Need to maximize your time? Join me at 8;30 a.m. on Wed. for answers to your questions, helpful hints and the rules of conduct for playing.

What’s Wrong with the Harmonica?
Brendan Power
Brendan describes some of the weak points of the harmonica, and leads a brainstorming session on possible ways of overcoming them. Involvement encouraged, all players and ideas welcome.

If you would like to add your name to the list of presenters, just get in touch with me at :  mwewers@rogers.com

This list is subject to change.