I got my first harp--an Old Standby--from my dad for Xmas when I was about 12. There was this little piece of paper in the box that was all the instruction I ever got--it taught a tongue-block method of playing. I got more into playing the steel guitar and trombone in my high school years--the harp was just a fun little toy to dick with sometimes.
When I got out of the Army in 1964, I got into playing folk guitar and I fell in love with country blues--like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake and Lightnin' Hopkins. I started playing around a little at the folk coffee houses that were around at that time. I fell in with some hippies that wanted to start a band and we formed up The Panama Red Grass Blues Band.
We didn't have a harp player--so I got Tony Glover's book and started to learn a little about cross harp as best I could. On a long drive I put an A harp on a rack and played my lips bloody for a couple of days--did the same on the return drive. After that trip I was the resident harpist for Redgrass just because I knew about three riffs that sounded like Little Walter. We never learned enough songs to play real gigs--but the ones we played we kicked ass on--we kept getting these gig offers from people who wanted to pay us and I, being the geekiest of the group, would bring in set lists and sheets for us to learn--then we would do some chemicals and drink a beer and play our same old stuff. That's when I learned that guitar players and drummers are the enemy--even though I still mainly played guitar and sang lead.
I broke out of that rut when I got a real job and went to college 200 miles from the band. Started playing as a solo--a little harp on a stick like Dylan--but the harp fell away the more I got into the finger picking music. I sold my Electric guitars and went entirely acoustic. I started playing a little Sonny Terry on the harp now and then--found a couple of books that went into his style.
I made a living as a solo act for a couple of years in the early 70's, when there was still enough interest in that kind of thing and not every place wanted a full scale rock band. By '75 I was working as an electrician and would only play music at drunken parties and in my bedroom.
I messed around with flute and Dobro for a few years, but the guitar was always my main ax. I played harp sometimes--but didn't get really into it until many years later--about a month before Adam Gussow started putting his lessons on You Tube. I started out with a Jon Gindick book and CD. When I discovered Adam, I started getting a lot more serious about harp. I think, until recently, I still had a bit of this thinking that the harp is just a little novelty that you throw in now and then for a musical accent--like punctuation--the real words were being spoken by the guitar. Well, I finally realized that the harp is a monster instrument in its own right.
So now, I spend about a third of my woodshed time on the harp--a third on trying to revive my old guitar/singer repertoire--and a third learning to play slide guitar--which I always loved but was too lazy to change tunings--I solved that problem by just making another guitar into my slider--then I still have the main guitar for standard.
I wish I had more woodshed time to spend--because I also play banjo--but I might have to retire to have time for that. . .