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The Gulfport Harmonica Membership Needs You

Share this…FacebookPinterestTwitterLinkedin January 5, 2022 by Abby Baker “It’s a labor of affection,” Gulfport Harmonica Membership President Howard Rothstein says….

By Staff , in Senior Living , at January 5, 2022



A man playing a harmonica up close.
“It’s a labor of affection,” Gulfport Harmonica Membership President Howard Rothstein says.  
Abby Baker

“The harmonica membership will hold you younger,” group president Howard Rothstein informed The Gabber proper earlier than breaking right into a “Fiddler on the Roof” basic, including “We modified the title as a result of it made us sound previous.” 

For 27 years the Gulfport Harmonica Membership – previously the Gulfport Senior Residents Harmonica Membership – has performed native venues with signature folksy sounds. 

Even within the face of a nationwide pandemic, the group met at park pavilions to maintain its rhythm sturdy. 

Now, in January 2022, the group has shrunk to a handful of musicians, lots of whom had by no means picked up a harmonica earlier than stumbling within the doorways of the Gulfport Senior Heart. 

In his 90s, Rothstein leads the group each Tuesday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; the “band” jams for the primary two hours, then has  classes for the subsequent two. 

“It’s a labor of affection,” he informed The Gabber. 

For individuals who don’t know the intricate language of sheet music, the songs are translated into “paint (or play) by numbers.” 

This was the case for now five-year member Mary Stine, who couldn’t learn music earlier than becoming a member of the group. In the present day, she doesn’t miss a beat. 

“A number of songs we play by ear,” Stine says. “However we do each.” 


Five people playing harmonicas
The group has performed for 27 years, withstanding even COVID. Nonetheless, the band desires new members.
Abby Baker

Labor of Love

An honest harmonica can price $200 or extra as of late, says Rothstein. In 1943, the 12-year-old New York native purchased his first handheld instrument for $12. 

Due to the associated fee, Rothstein lets potential members borrow his private devices till they know they wish to play on a long-term foundation. And the group desires members who wish to play for a very long time, contemplating the latest shrinkage following COVID. 

“This has the identical notes {that a} child grand piano has,” Rothstein says. “However I can hold it in my pocket.”

The Harmonica Membership has performed on the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, and so they performed the nationwide anthem at Tropicana Subject. Most not too long ago, they performed at Regency Oaks Senior Dwelling Facility.

“Once we play for older individuals it places a smile on their faces,” he says. “A lot of them can’t bear in mind what occurred yesterday, however they will sing alongside to the music.”


A woman with grey hair smiling and holding a harmonica.
Mary Stine mid-song. Picture by Abby Baker.

That’s why, says Rothstein, the Harmonica Group performs older songs and present tunes: Individuals bear in mind the sounds of the previous. 

For the membership’s musical director, Larry Smith, it’s not a lot concerning the efficiency, however the act of taking part in music. 

Smith performed trumpet for a lifetime earlier than shifting to Florida the place he “wanted to search out one thing much less noisy for a rental.” 

The harmonica prevailed. 

“I began taking part in the blues … it was easy music and numerous enjoyable,” Smith says. “I discovered this group and it labored.” 

Enthusiastic about mastering the harmonica? No expertise wanted, and it received’t price a penny. The group meets weekly on Tuesdays. Name 727-363-8016 or electronic mail [email protected] to be taught extra.

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