I've always been one for lightening the mood and a well-timed joke, and I've always been one for music – so, naturally, I carried a harmonica around during the summer. It didn't go everywhere with me, and I usually forgot I had stuck it in my jacket pocket, but it provided lots of laughs and a couple of full-out singing sessions. I really only knew two songs off the top of my head – Billy Joel's "Piano Man" (of course, a harmonica essential) and the US Marines theme. As you can imagine, "Piano Man" usually was more relevant to the situation than the other.
So, I tossed my well-loved harmonica into a box while packing for college, certain that it would become handy again. As it happened, it did become handy. Pulling out a tiny instrument from the depths of my backpack was always a laugh for my friends, and that was what really mattered to me. My skills were average at best, and I can't say I've ever practiced technique. I only knew a handful of tunes, and most I had to look up the notes to anyway. But it became a fun game to see how often I could find a legitimate excuse to pull the instrument out. When I went home for the weekend, it was needed for a bright "Happy Birthday," and when cheering up a friend after walking back from our English class, I was taking requests and seeing how quickly I could learn her favorite songs. I ended up doing a full cover of "Piano Man" when a girl that I didn't really know well (then) stumbled upon a piano in one of our school's hallways.
Carrying around a harmonica for a week didn't do anything to change my life, but it did give me something fun to do. Unfortunately, it was a hassle because I kept forgetting to stick it in my purse or backpack on my way out the door. It was even more of a hassle to remember that I was carrying it. I took it with me nearly everywhere for a whole seven consecutive days since starting school, and I really only used it a couple of times.
However, I did learn one thing from my little game – music does truly bring people together. I got to witness this firsthand, and it was exciting and fun to watch how my silly little experiment made people interact with each other. For the birthday song, a couple of people were singing as I played, and they were all trying to outdo each other and laughing the entire time. Somebody requests their favorite song, and somebody overhears and exclaims that it's their favorite song too, leading to an instant friendship. There's something about singing and playing (either on harmonica or piano) Billy Joel's "Piano Man" in an empty hallway that creates a strong bond. I've been raised in an extremely musical family, and singing with them is one of my favorite things – it brings me indescribable joy and comfort that I've never been able to recreate doing something else. Music connects people, and even something as simple as a harmonica can change people's relationships. It's exciting and fun.
So, if you see me around campus, ask to hear a song or two. I might even be able to get to know you better. Maybe then, I'll have more than two songs prepared.