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    Harmonikids Hohner-Sponsored Session with Physically and Intellectually Disabled Students

    17 June, 2024

    On Friday May 31st Gary Allegretto came to the John G. Leach School and provided an unforgettable performance and demonstration to our music class. The students are all nonverbal special needs with varying complex physical and intellectual disabilities. 

    From the moment he played the first few notes there was an instant spark and connection formed between Gary, the staff and students. His musicality transformed the room and he took us on an adventure across genres and time periods. Of note, Mr. Allegretto was particularly in tune with each student’s individual abilities and their musical preferences. He zeroed in on their strengths and made a true connection with them. 

    He not only performed enthusiastically, but also gave us some unique history of the harmonica, the blues and its connection to travel and other styles of music.

    A strong bond was evident between Gary and the students. His enthusiasm for music, the genres he chose to play as well as the history behind the harmonica gave us a much-needed musical field trip. He was able to get “affect” out of our students in the form of smiles, toe tapping and inquisitive looks, which are some of the hardest connections to make with our student population in such a short amount of time. We even all had a jam session at the end! We all truly enjoyed our visit and hope that he can return in the future.

    Gary cultivates a playful atmosphere that empowers students to make music meeting them where they are to fit their needs. We deeply appreciate his time through his nonprofit organization Harmonikids and the sponsorship of the Hohner brand in making this unique musical experience happen.


    ~ Kara Villanelli, Adaptive Music Teacher, John G. Leach School