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Bearden High School ‘Harp Dogs’ play the blues
Harmonica Club offers non-structured membership


Anyone looking to find Bearden High School’s track coach Barry Faust on a Wednesday afternoon just needs to follow the bluesy sound of harmonicas wailing down the hallway.

Faust can be found there with a group of students numbering usually anywhere from one to 10, who make up the BHS Harp Dogs, teaching harmonica.

“I started playing harmonica when I was a kid and I have played in bands around town for the last 25 years. The kids really liked my playing so I figured I would show them how,” Faust said.

The club has been growing steadily for the last four years.

“It just went from a few kids wanting to learn … I talked to the administrators and got an actual club and we have been in the yearbook for the last two years,” Faust said.


The club is not structured, allowing for students who play sports or have other after-school commitments to attend the lessons when they can.

“Sometimes I will have 10 kids and sometimes I will have three. Bearden High School has 2,000 kids and [it seems like] 3,00 clubs. When football is over I will get more, but then I will lose a couple to swimming, and when track season starts it is over.

“Anyone can come in.

“Everybody is in a different place, so I just go down the line and say ‘what do you need?’ and that is what we do. I want everybody to get it all. I want them to get it, understand it and have fun so they will go home and practice it, because if it is not fun they won’t do it,” he added.

For most of the students, harmonica is not the only instrument they play.

Clay King, for example, does not play the harmonica but he comes to play the guitar with the group.

“I have been playing guitar since about sixth grade,” he said.

“Clay is known as the “Guitar King” here at Bearden High School,” Faust added. “He is really good.”

David Cooper, who has been playing harmonica with Faust for a little more than a year, plays alto saxophone as well.

David and Clay play in a blues band together called Bare Meat.

“We play restaurants and that type of thing,” Clay said.

Faust has played with them from time to time and has had David and Clay sit in with his band, the Terra Plain Drifters, as well.

“When my partner can’t make a gig, I will take a kid from school to play with me. I do not hesitate to take Clay or Cooper on gig with me. They are good … you just don’t understand,” Faust said.

There are students in the group such as jimmy Weir, who has been playing for one week, as well as students such as David, Cody Kraft and Emma Pope who have all been playing more than a year.

“It is not that easy to learn. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” Faust said. “There are things you need to do. You have to work at it, but it is not like a piano. You can put it in your pocket and hike up Mount LeConte with it. It is just like everything else. If you have the desire and you are willing to practice and you know what to do, you can learn.

“If [the newer students] pay attention they can learn something from what Cooper is doing and what Cody is doing … you just steal stuff. As you get better you make it yours,” he added.

 

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