Music man going for world record

QUILCENE — Five years ago, Andy Mackie made a vow — to pass along the music of his native Scotland to the children of his community.

Using his own money, he bought harmonicas and started giving lessons at the local school.

Within a few years, his goal had expanded to putting a musical instrument into the hands of every child in Jefferson County, then expanded again to include children in Clallam and two other counties.

Now he has his sights on an even larger goal — to assemble the largest harmonica band in the world at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day weekend and set a Guinness world record.

“It’s for people simultaneously playing the harmonica,” Mackie said. “The record is only 851.”

That should be a snap for Mackie, who has taught thousands of children to play music since he bought harmonicas for an entire second grade in Quilcene.

In addition to teaching children to play them, he’s provided parts for hundreds of stringed instrument, often cutting the wood himself, and taught children to build ukuleles and strum sticks.

Going for the record

It was his idea to go for the world record, Mackie said, but it was Robert Force of the Washington State University Learning Center in Port Hadlock who contacted the organizers of the Folklife Festival about holding it during the May 27-30 event at Seattle Center.

“They were really excited about it,” Mackie said. “They’re going to use the story to advertise Folklife.”

The official category in the Guinness Book of World Records is “Largest Harmonica Ensemble,” and requires the group to play the same song for a minimum of five minutes.

The attempt will be made May 29 at 6 p.m. on the Fisher Green stage, across from KeyArena, with the assembled musicians playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

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