August 25, 2009
The Harmonious Hearts
Who or what are “The Harmonious Hearts?”
The Harmonious Hearts are a Christian Women’s Harmonica Trio. And Portland Firefly has been a member for several years. ”Does she play the harmonica?” you ask? “Yes, she does.”
Well actually I sort of play at it. While living in the Midwest, three of us became The Harmonious Hearts and we performed at nursing homes and for senior groups for several years. We are the world’s only (as far as we can tell) Christian Women’s Harmonica Trio and we mostly play Americana Songs and Hymns. The hymns are our favorites ~ at least they are mine.
When I moved to Portland, I sort of broke up the trio. Barbara and Rose Marie are my very dear friends whom I have missed very much. We used to practice at least once a week ( we always allowed an extra 30 minutes for “catching-up” and visiting) and we were sometimes performing as much as 12 times a month. We had a different outfit for each month to correspond to our musical selections and time of the year. We worked hard at giving a good performance and the three of us were uniquely suited to this particular trio. We each brought something of value and necessity to the trio that the other two members did not have and so our admiration and love for each others talents and abilities grew.
How did we get started? Oh, that is an interesting story in itself.
We were all attending the same church in the Midwest but had never met each other. The Women’s Ministry group had sign ups for a Women’s Heart-to-Heart program. The program organizer would match up two women and you were to get together once a month to get to know each other better. Well, the program organizer had one person left over and so she needed to put three people into one group….our group!!! At our first meeting we brought our lunches and sat and visited until it was time to go home and cook dinner for our husbands! We really liked each other and got along well.
Then early one Saturday in November we went to a “work day” at the church and then out to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel. While waiting to pay our bill, I picked up a little harmonica from a bin in front of the cash register and said to Rose Marie “These would make great stocking stuffers for your grandchildren.” Barbara said ” Those aren’t toys; those are musical instruments. Buy one and I’ll teach you to play.” After much laughter and strange looks from the other customers, Rose Marie and I walked out of the Cracker Barrel with our first harmonicas. Barbara already had at least two at home and had taught herself to play while working as an EMT for the Fire Department.
And so Barbara began to teach us the basics and then we bought some harmonica music books and began to practice. We would make up a song and then call each other on the phone and play our song and then hang up without saying a word! We were three little girls with a new toy and we were having a lot of fun! We started getting serious when we discovered that we needed higher quality harmonicas. Soon loving husbands began to search the Internet for “harmonica” gifts. We wanted to be worthy of the gifts, so we practiced harder. In April, the final Heart-to-Heart get-together was held. Known only to the hostess, we had planned a surprise for the participants.
One week earlier, I was picking up something at a local store, when I walked by the women’s department, where they just happened to have three beautiful blouses in the correct sizes in three different pastel colors. I quickly called Barbara and Rose Marie and our debut outfit was born!
Now we needed a name. I told the other two that we needed to think of a name for our group — but they were stymied. I just kept thinking that the word Heart should be in it ~ in honor of our meeting at Heart-to-Heart~ and that the word Harmonica should also be in in our name. When the name The Harmonious Hearts popped into my mind, I was pretty sure that we had a name for our trio. The other two agreed. And so The Harmonious Hearts had instruments, music, a short program, costumes, and a name! We were ready to perform for the first time.
We were so lucky to play in an intimate setting with women who were loving and appreciative of our efforts. The songs we played were simple well known songs like Kum BaYah and Row, Row, Row Your Boat; but we closed with our signature closing song, Amazing Grace. Glenda, a blind attendee and a close friend gave us the best feedback and we knew that she would so we could improve. But hey, we could only get better from where we were starting.
Within months, Portland Firefly had contacted the local nursing homes and senior groups and our ministry of playing the harmonica began in earnest. This forced us to practice and we only became better and more diverse. We took lessons from the internationally renowned harmonicist, Tulsa Read. http://www.harmonicaonline.com/
We were even invited to perform with him at a two hour Christmas Special which was an honor for us. That was the evening that I performed the Christmas song that always made me cry while I was walking through the airport terminals during the holidays -There’s No Place Like Home for The Holidays - both singing and playing this song for the audience. Only another Flight Attendant can appreciate the depth of emotion attached to a song such as that, especially when we never knew if we would be kept on our routine flights or go non-routine and end up in Peoria on Christmas with our families back home without us.
We always considered ourselves a God-Driven Ministry – there is no way any of us could have foreseen our playing for so many shut-ins when we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel that November morning so long ago. Barbara had the musical training and most talent, Rose Marie had the training and transposing ability and Portland Firefly had the creative vision. Only God’s plan could have taken such three diverse women and melded us into something for His Honor. Together the three of us created a unique group based on love and respect. I love those two women. We are truly three harmonious hearts….