Harmonikids Session For Troubled Youth
18 August, 2015
By Gary Allegretto
In a Hohner sponsored session on July 30, 2015 I returned to the Ferris detention facility in Wilmington Delaware; a full-security juvenile facility for boys whose mission is to “provide educational and therapeutic services to adjudicated youth in a safe, staff-secure and gender sensitive environment preparing them for successful re-entry into the community.” Over the years Harmonikids' ongoing programs to assist the youth at Ferris have become among my personal favorites because the participants (many of whom have been neglected, abandoned, and/or abused in their young lives) receive much-needed self esteem and confidence from the experience.
Harmonikids provides a healthy and positive form of creative expression and emotional release in this crucial time in their lives. Simply stated, the lessons often become an inspiration for these adolescents to grow, change, forgive the world – and themselves. The harmonica often becomes a strong but gentle tool to help kids get back on track. Long ago I learned to never underestimate the power of using music and the harmonica as a magical instrument to reach out and make a difference in young lives. A summary of the benefits Harmonikids provided to the troubled teens in the session is described in the attached note received from Treatment Specialist Ms. Thompson.
Of special note, while in the Wilmington area, I performed and provided Hohner-sponsored Blues harmonica workshop sessions at the Riverfront Blues Festival for the 10th consecutive year. In my family-friendly program participants of all ages learn to play 4 Blues songs accurately and quickly. The workshops also bring support and awareness to Harmonikids Hohner-sponsored programs providing the healing joy of learning music on harmonicas to youth in need worldwide.
Founding Director of Harmonikids
Singer, song writer and Grammy Nominee Gary Allegretto brought his “Harmonikids Blues Harmonica Workshop” to the residents and staff at the Residential Cottages July 30, 2015. He introduced us to the harmonica and explained the history and culture behind it. Gary played many different versions of the blues, as well the talented artist played some of his own music inspired from the sounds of trains from the old western times. He handed out harmonicas donated from Hohner as well as his instructional music sheets. Gary used his expertise to orchestrate all of the residents and staff through four songs. Gary introduced us to many variations of the harmonica through Blues, Jazz, Rock and even Rap music. He even allowed residents to incorporate their own rap style into the music. All of the residents and staff thoroughly enjoyed his “Blues Harmonica Workshop”.
Snowden Cottage, Ferris Detention Center