Harmonica Convention Blows Into Irving

Harmonica convention draws hundreds

Hundreds of harmonica enthusiasts from around the world are in Irving this week for an annual convention.

About 500 people are expected to attend the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica's 49th annual convention at the Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

"Not very many kids my age play them, so it's a very unique experience," said 13-year-old Alexander Windmeyer, who came from Missouri with his family.

Tom Stryker, SPAH outgoing president, said the instrument is seeing a resurgence.

"Blues are becoming now the thing and every major band, every major rock band, has a blues harmonica in it, so it's coming back very strong," he said.

Brandon Bailey, 21, a medical student from Nashville, Tenn., is teaching his audience a different style of harmonica music.

"It's been kind of coined as 'harp-boxing' -- harmonica playing and beatboxing," he said.

Seasoned pros such as 90-year-old Stan Harper said the convention allows him to meet others who share the same passion.

"There is a camaraderie that is created by it that money can never buy," he said.

Doctors even attend the convention to speak about health benefits of playing the harmonica.

"We've seen benefits in sleep apnea," Dr. John Schaman said. "Some people have less snoring. Some people have had improved blood pressures."

The convention runs through Saturday.

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