Some harmonica lore:
* Chief supplier of harmonicas to the U.S. is the M. Hohner company of Trossingen, Germany. Hohner has been making them since 1857.
* The harmonica is the only wind instrument that can be played by both inhaling and exhaling, by blowing and drawing into the holes.
* Hohner sells more than a million harmonicas a year to this country, 60 models in 200 keys. They range in price from $4.95 for a Pocket Pal, a 10-hole harmonica, to $425 for an orchestral model chord harmonica.
* The most popular harmonica in the U.S. today, according to Hohner executive Jack Kavoukian, is still the Marine Band, Model No. 1896 -- numbered for the year it was put on the American market.
* Navy Capt. Wally Schirra played a tiny 4-hole "Lucky Lady" on his trip into space in 1965. The Air & Space Museum has the original on display and sells copies of it in the Museum Shop.
* Sixty-seven percent of the Hohners sold here are, like the Marine Band, a 10-hole diatonic (it plays the equivalent of a scale on the white keys of the piano) and retail from $5 to $15 or $16.
* The American Federation of Musicians recognized the harmonica as a legitimate musical instrument in 1948.
* There are 23 regional harmonica clubs in about a dozen states. Over all these is the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica, which holds an annual convention in Detroit attended by thousands.
None of the major conservatories -- Julliard, Curtis, Peabody, Berkley in Boston, etc. -- teach harmonica. The famous classical harmonica player Larry Adler is said to have been rejected, for lack of talent, by Peabody in his hometown of Baltimore.
* Turtle Bay Music School in New York City, a community school and not a conservatory, has been offering a course in the chromatic since 1958. Robert Bonfiglio, who teaches the course today, is a highly regarded player of classical music. Contrary to the common impression, he insists, the harmonica "is a very difficult instrument to play." That's why, he says, there are so few virtuosi.
Bonfiglio also argues that there is no technique of the harmonica that young people can study -- the way they can study the technique of the piano or violin. As a result, when they are of an age to enter a conservatory, he says, they have had too little musical training to qualify for admission.