Harmonikids Session for Disadvantaged Elementary School Children
14 June, 2019
On May 16, 2019 I provided my Hohner-sponsored harmonica education program to over 400 rural school children at Phyllis Wheatley Elementary. The school is classified as a “Title 1” or “a school with high percentages of children from low-income families” who wouldn’t normally have access to learn music on a musical instrument. The session was a tremendous success with nearly 200 4th graders learning to play 4 songs and then proudly performing for their 3rd grade schoolmates as part of a very joyful school assembly of harmonica entertainment and history that I conducted afterwards. Education event coordinator Denise DiSabatino Allen gives a detailed assessment of the benefits the kids received from my program below.
~ Gary Allegretto, founding director of Harmonikids, www.harmonikids.org
On May 16th, Phillis Wheatley Elementary school was given the opportunity to have an Arts experience with Gary Allegretto. Phillis Wheatley is a Title I school with 44% of the students coming from low income families. Many of the students are not economically privileged enough to afford the opportunity to see live performances and bringing Gary to their school, gave them a personalized hands on experience right in their school.
At the start of the harmonica lesson with grade 4, students were asked if they had ever played an instrument. Approximately 5 out of 186 students raised their hands. Students were truly entertained with Gary’s performance. Teachers were impressed as he organized all 186 pf these students and lead a teaching session. You could hear a pin drop as they listened and learned. WOW! The students learned quickly as Gary made them all feel successful in the process. How cool to present to the 3rd grade? They played with confidence like a pro. In addition, Gary gave a performance for both Grades 3 & 4. Again, I have to say this experience opened eyes and also inspired students to play an instrument and to recognize their love of the Arts.
Giving the children their OWN harmonica blew them away. They took very good care of their instrument. They were proud and I wish I could have seen them as they arrived home to share their new instrument and talent with their parents. They truly felt great about themselves, very accomplished for sure!
I have always believed in the value of the arts in creating a well-rounded person, which has always been my goal as a parent, and is the same as an educator. Exposure to the arts also opens up a world of possibility to our students for their own future career choices. Bringing Gary and his harmonica experience impacted over 419 students. How amazing is that? This program brought joy to hearts of students, teachers and us at The Freeman Stage.
~ Denise DiSabatino Allen, Education & Community Access Coordinator, The Freeman Foundation