Harmonica Man

A retired Scottish-born man should have died long ago. But after facing death on more than one occasion, he decided to share his secret to happiness ... music.

Rarely, have I been emotionally moved to such an extent, as I beheld a dynamo of such power that is evident within his acts of pure giving and sharing.

To me, this may be a glimpse into the way we once were - and the way we must strive to

become again, if we are to remain viable as a form of life on this planet.

Alexandra Bruce

Steve Hartman


At 71, Andy Mackie is another one of those guys on my heroes list. His life is a great story of how one man's passion can be transformed to positively influence hundreds of young people. Andy is a retired Scottish-born man who probably should have died long ago. But after facing death on more than one occasion owing to a bad heart, he decided to share his personal secret to happiness ... music. 

As reported on CBS News Online last December, Andy is the Johnny Appleseed of harmonicas. As you'll see in the video, he's busy inspiring lots of young people to become interested in music. He does that by living out of a motor home and using the money he used to spend for heart medication to pay for harmonicas he gives to kids. He's been at it for 11 years, so far, and has given away 16,000 harmonicas!

If that generosity wasn't enough, Andy is now spending most of his Social Security check to hand craft what he calls Strumsticks. It's a kind of guitar that is easy to learn to play and the kids love it. As part of his ongoing legacy, Andy is even building his own mentoring program by training older kids to teach younger kids to play various instruments. 

Andy is a beautiful Elder man, and I hope you find his example as inspirational and motivational as I do. If you would like to support Andy Mackie’s efforts to teach and share music with kids you can do so through the Andy Mackie Music Foundation. You could also just start sharing your gifts with some of the young people around you as Andy has done and see what happens!

Every time 71 year-old Mackie draws a breath it is music to his ears, weather there’s a harmonica there or not, he’s just glad to be alive.

 Mackie is a retired horse-trainer and lives in a mobile camper in Northwest Washington State, even though technically, medically he should have died long ago.  After his ninth heart surgery his doctors had him on 15 different medicines but the side effect made him miserable, so one day he quit taking all of them and decided to spend his final days doing something he always wanted to do. Mackie spent all the money he would use to spend on medication to buy and give away 300 harmonicas and give lessons to learn to play and when he didn’t die the next month he bought a few hundred more and started going from school to school.  It’s now eleven years later and he has given away 13 thousand harmonicas.  He will give a lady a harmonica on the street and the children say how nice he is and that he has taught them a lot.  And the children say everybody likes him, everybody!!.  To keep the children interested in music he spends the bulk of his social security check making what he calls strum sticks.  He has given away thousands of these, too.  He also buys store made instruments for the children who pay a special interest and provides free lessons to everyone by teaching the older children to teach the younger children.  The end result is unique to this corner of America, it seems everywhere you look, everywhere you go, every kid you meet has that same genuine passion for fiddle music.  Mackie really believes he is still alive because of his love to help others and his cheerful sharing and giving had revived his life.


It is encouraging to see someone so thoughtful and sharing and the words of the Bible surely have been fulfilled in Mackie’s life where it says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.  When we are caring for others we don’t have time to grieve over our own troubles and then our troubles go away when we have our mind on making others happy.  It is just an automatic thing when we give it comes back to us more abundantly than we could ever dream.  And we can clearly see that the drugs were not making Mackie well and when he got rid of the drugs he got better.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22