Winslow Yerxa
San Francisco, CA
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Winslow Yerxa

Winslow Y.

San Francisco, CA
Profile-background-check Background Check
This teacher successfully passed a thorough criminal background check with SterlingBackcheck. This badge verifies trusted teacher status.
Profile-student-favorite Student Favorite
This teacher is rated in the top 15% of teachers in the specialty subject. This badge demonstrates subject mastery on a nationwide scale.
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
You can expect me to listen to what you tell me, listen to how you play, and then give you information and activities to increase your understanding and develop your abilities. It could be anything from which end of the harmonica is up to advanced classical or jazz performance, or anything in between - blues harp, Neil Young, you name it.

About Winslow Y.

My focus is on you - helping you achieve your goals with the harmonica, whatever they may be. Whatever inspires you to pick up the harmonica, whoever you want to emulate, whatever style grabs you, I bring the background, deep knowledge, and teaching experience to enrich your understanding and grow your skills and ability to express yourself musically.

I'm a harmonica specialist, known internationally as a player and teacher. I'm the author of the books Harmonica For Dummies and Blues Harmonica For Dummies. I can teach all styles, all levels of expertise and all types of harmonica.


Write a Review
18 Reviews
Charles W.
Profile-location-online Online

Excellent teacher who is perfectly content with teaching me the very basics and can obviously teach at a much higher level as well.

Posted May 3, 2021
Profile-location-online Online

Awesome, so much to learn

Posted May 2, 2021
James H.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

So awesome, very knowledgeable and patient teacher. Can't wait to practice and do more of these!

Posted Oct 17, 2019
William Y.

Great instructor. Very patient with the basics and advanced technique.

Posted Oct 12, 2019
Gabriel P.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Great foundation in harmonica

Posted May 14, 2019
lena yao
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I had fun and learn something new.

Posted Mar 6, 2019
Profile-location-online Online

Very good teacher; he wrote the book on playing harmonica.

Posted Feb 27, 2019
Doug S.
Profile-location-online Online

Great teacher. Knows where I am at and knows where I need to go.

Posted Dec 2, 2018
Doug S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Great lesson. Already sound coming from harmonica is better.

Posted Nov 16, 2018
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Very patient. Knowledgeable.

Posted Aug 9, 2018
Profile-location-online Online

Great first lesson- Winslow is easy to talk to and very knowledgeable. He is very good at explaining and demonstrating technique in a clear way. Thanks again!

Posted Jul 22, 2017
Philip E.
Profile-location-online Online

Winslow is very knowledgeable and an excellent teacher.
He's very passionate about the harmonica, which makes for a great learning experience. I look forward to future lessons.

Posted Nov 11, 2016
Bob S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

My first lesson went very well and was just as I had hoped.

Posted Aug 5, 2016
Steve W.
Profile-location-online Online

Far exceeded my expectations. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Winslow is a GREAT instructor and a well respected expert, well known in the worldwide Harmonica community.

Posted Jul 29, 2016
Profile-location-online Online

Winslow is an excellent teacher and I feel fortunate to be learning from him. He is a harmonica master, both in his playing and in his in deep knowledge of the mechanics of the harp and how to play it. He has literally written books on learning to play (Harmonica for Dummies, Blues Harmonica for Dummies).
What I like about our lessons is that he's a great listener. He can hear where I need work and he offers not just one but often several exercises and riffs that address the issue. In addition, he knows the blues, the players, the songs, and the harp riffs for reference. To top it off his manner is light and warm. I feel honored to be learning from him.

Posted Jun 15, 2016
Profile-location-online Online

In my first lesson with Winslow he listened to what I had to say about my experience, my frustrations and my goals. He listened to me play and quickly diagnosed some issues and offered some helpful advice on how to address them. I came away with a much better sense of how to structure my practices to make them more productive and with some specific things on which to work.

Posted Jun 8, 2016
George Chavez
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Good first lesson. Teacher listens and explains clearly. I look forward to my next lesson.

Posted Apr 1, 2016
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Winslow is great. He really knows what he's talking about and helped me improve a lot! I highly recommend him.

Posted Feb 14, 2016

Photos & Videos

16 Photos & Videos


Author, Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition
Jan 2014 - Present

John Wiley and Sons

Harmonica For Dummies is now in its second edition, a 400-page book with online audio, video, and animation clips to supplement the written content. The first edition has been translated into French, German, Russian, and Portuguese.

Aug 2012 - Present

Harmonica Collective

The Harmonica Collective is an annual gathering of some of the best harmonica players, crafters, and performers to share their knowledge with intermediate and advanced players for three days. Enrollment is limited to 50 in order to give individual attention to each attendee.

Author, Blues Harmonica For Dummies
Jan 2012 - Present

John Wiley and Sons

Advice Columnist
Jan 2010 - Present

Roving advice columnist for the discussion columns at, an instructional site and course for blues harmonica instruction

Jan 1971 - Present


Sat in with, opened for, or backed major acts on harmonica, including blues icons Muddy Waters, Charlie Musselwhite, John Mayall, Mark Hummel, Jason Ricci, Magic Dick, Lee Oskar, Rick Estrin, and Jerry Portnoy, traditional violinist Alasdair Fraser and the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, and jazz singer Paula West.

Faculty instructor
Apr 2008 - May 2018

Jazzschool Community Music School at the California Jazz Conservatory

I taught the ten-week Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Courses when they were offered. I still teach private lessons on Saturdays at the Jazzschool location in Berkeley, California.

Jan 2008 - Apr 2018

Winslow Yerxa/Tuula Cotter

Wrote, arranged, performed, and recorded with violinist Tuula Tossavainen Cotter with various accompanists.

Jun 2001 - Apr 2017

San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers

Was featured soloist, ensemble member and occasional gig leader with this large traditional music ensemble that included a range from beginning amateurs to world-renowned professionals.

Aug 2012 - Aug 2015

SPAH, Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica

Since 1964 SPAH has produced a quarterly magazine and an annual convention for up to 500 attendees, with seminars, one-on-one teaching, jamming, open mic, and concerts, along with exhibits by vendors and manufacturers.

Jan 2008 - Nov 2012

Fiddle Rising

Conducted and performed with this traditional music group, an offshoot of the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, which I co-led with violinist Tuula Tossavainen Cotter.

Jan 2009 - Aug 2009

San Francisco Harmonica Ensemble

Worked with co-members Steve Malerbi, Damien Masterson, and Michael Peloquin as a four-part harmonica ensemble, including a recorded performance at the 2009 West Coast Jazz Harmonica Summit, which can be viewed on Youtube.

Apr 1996 - Aug 2000

Winslow's Bunch O'Guys

Founded, arranged for, led, and performed with a five-piece harmonica ensemble with rhythm section accompaniment. Members included, at various times, Joe Filisko, Dennis Gruenling, Richard Sleigh, Larry "Iceman" Eisenberg, Chris Michalek, Michael Peloquin, Damien Masterson, Beth Kohnen, and Allen Holmes. Performances included at the annual Buckeye and SPAH harmonica gatherings and the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen, Germany.

Editor and Publisher
Jan 1992 - Nov 1997

HIP - the Harmonica Information Publication

Published and distributed internationally a 40-plus page harmonica magazine with news, instruction, historical articles, reviews, and general harmonica information.

Feb 1979 - Sep 1986

Cool Breeze

Played keyboards, percussion, occasional harmonica, and sang harmony vocals and collaborated with bandleader/composer Pietro Giacomo Poggi and musical director David Somers on arrangements for horns, vocals, and rhythm section for 15-piece band playing original music based in Caribbean and African styles.

Jan 1970 - Dec 1974

King Luxsac

Was lead singer, songwriter, and harmonica player for this pioneering Vancouver, BC, blues and R&B band that included such notables as Gordon Bertram, John Doheny, Olaf de Shield, and Rick Baker. This band was integrated into a shifting network of casual ensembles that included future members of Doug and the Slugs Simon Kendall, John "Wally" Watson, and John Burton.


Music composition, voice
Sep 1976 - May 1977

McGill University

Music composition and arranging
Sep 1974 - May 1976

Vancouver Community College



Fluent / Native Proficiency


Limited Proficiency


Pete Pedersen Lifetime Achievement Award
Aug 2016

SPAH, the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica


California Jazz Conservatory
Apr 2008
The California Jazz Conservatory is a nationally accredited music conservatory providing a dynamic community of students, artists, educators, scholars and audiences with a forum to study, perform, teach, research, appreciate and enjoy jazz and related styles of music from throughout the world. Comprising two distinct education programs, the California Jazz Conservatory, a postsecondary degree-granting program, and the Jazzschool Community Music School, a non-degree-granting community education program, the institution honors the contributions of past masters and promotes artistic innovation, bringing together a diverse music community to develop practical skills, acquire artistic sensibility, realize creative potential and find artistic voice.
Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica
Jan 1991
SPAH is the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica. It is a non-profit, member organization dedicated to serving the harmonica community.

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