A selection of testimonials for Gary Allegretto is provided below.

They are testaments of character as much as workshop feedback and teaching evaluations.


From Teachers

"Wonderful! The students were so excited. Several students (that Gary taught) are going to play the
harmonica in our annual Black History program here at Humes Middle School. Let's keep the blues alive!"

Ms. Alisa V Caldwell
Humes Preparatory Middle School, Memphis,TN

"It was a pleasure having you with us. The kids were very excited to learn about the blues. You really have
a way with them and I can tell that you love what you do. My best to you as you continue with your career
and work to educate our kids."

 Dru Davison, PhD.
 Hickory Ridge Middle School, Memphis, TN

"Gary was wonderful with our children. He was patient, funny and a great entertainer. The children were
delighted with their new harmonicas, fascinated by the music, and thrilled to be able to play along as he
taught them the songs. This was a great cultural and learning experience for everyone that attended and
the harmonicas are still being played today."

Judy Mitchell
Director, West Side Group, Los Angeles, CA

"Your generosity of spirit, talent and time was a tremendous gift to us. You really knew how to talk to the
kids and convey not only the knowledge you have about music, but also the passion for it.
Harmonikids is a perfect example of sharing of one's talents and resources
which we are trying to encourage in our
community... "

Susan Whittaker
Coordinator, The Learning Crew, North Hollywood, CA

"Just wanted to drop you a note to say how great your performance session was yesterday.  The kids
loved it.  You presented it in a simple, fun, and interesting way.  And, the kids picked up on playing the
harmonica right away.  We really learned a lot and it was great fun. Thanks again."

John Vance
Treadwell High School, Memphis, TN

"We loved your workshop! The kids were engaged, entertained, and educated by your presentation. They not only received a great deal of information on the harmonica and blues in general, but you made it relevant to the popular music they love so much. It's always beneficial for students to see working professional musicians and I can tell you they were blown away to hear you play. 


As a teacher, I also appreciate they way you handled classroom management. Students were encouraged to respect each other and the teacher. I also love what you said about harmonicas being used to only bring joy to those around us. 


I heard children playing their harmonicas on the way out to their buses at the end of the day. I know you piqued their curiosity and many of them will seek out more information on their own: thank you for encouraging them to do so!"

Lindsay Boggs, 

Music Specialist

Downtown Elementary School, Memphis

 


  


From Students

"The presentation reignited my interest in music. On Saturday I practiced for a couple of hours and learned
'When the Saints Go Marching In' without looking at the notes."

Nathalie Kalombo
 
"The presentation was Awesome! It was well put together and Gary really knew what he was doing."
Zac Miller
 
"It was really cool. Gary was a really good teacher and very skilled. It was great to have something new,
exciting and unexpected at school. It keeps things interesting."

Aron Picus
 
"It was inspirational. I had never heard the blues before. I learned how to play the songs on the sheet and
my friends say they sound good. (As a side note he is improvising and has taught himself to make his
harmonica sound like a train.) "

Tyler Broussard 

"For me, music is life, you can't live without music."
Oscar

"I LOVED this!
Gary is a wonderful teacher who offers inspiring involvement to the world through his music."

Karen Tyler

About Gary's Workshops

"Gary Allegretto’s workshops were outstanding and I highly recommend him as a harmonica player/
performer, instructor to any other festival or event. Gary is a professional in every sense of the word, an
outstanding instructor, and a terrific person who is easy to work with. The workshops he taught for both
children and adults are still receiving rave reviews."

Elaine Weissman
Director of the CTMS Summer Solstice Folk Festival and Folk Alliance Founder, Calabasas, CA           
 
"On behalf of the staff and students here at the Stax Academy, I just wanted to say thank you so much for
coming yesterday to work with our students.  They were very excited about what they learned and we
look forward to working with you again in the future.  Thanks again!"

Jackie Peters
Operations Manager, Stax Music Academy, Memphis, TN
 
"The harmonica workshops Gary held at the Riverfront Blues Festival were a rousing success. We’re
anticipating that his workshops will draw an even larger audience next year. Thanks again."

Tina Betz
Director, Riverfront Blues Festival, Office of the Mayor, Wilmington, Delaware
 
"We appreciate Gary’s talent, hard work, flexibility, and dedication.  Both young and old attendees left his
invigorating workshops and performances with happy hearts. My personal favorite is having a child ask
me recently ‘when will the Bluesman come again?’ "

Cindy Cogbill
Outreach Director of Folk Alliance Conference, Memphis, TN    

"Gary is wonderful with the kids.  He has them playing the harmonica in five minutes. 
It's a beautiful thing to witness the kids 'when the lights come on.' "

Jennifer Weaver
Director, Houston Blues Society 

"Gary's "quick launch" teaching technique doesn't waste any time getting the students involved.  He
keeps the classroom captivated and leaves them enthused and challenged."

Linda Kirschbaum
former President and Treasurer, Houston Blues Society

"New Orleans with its rich musical heritage is a great venue for what (Gary) offers. His workshop, held at
our community center located directly next door to New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward in St. Bernard Parish
in the epicenter of devastation, was a joyful uplifting event. Judging from the excitement generated and
the expressions on the kids faces it left a very positive impression on the kids, some of whom will make
your workshop the first step in a musical career."

R.M. "Iray" Nabatoff
Executive Director, Community Center of St. Bernard, New Orleans, Louisiana

"On behalf of the Los Angeles Police Department's Jeopardy (gang prevention) Program, I would like to
thank you for sharing your talents with the youth in our program. They really enjoyed the time you spent
with them teaching them to play the harmonica. The benefits that come to our youth from
learning new skills are beyond measure. Music skills, in particular have always proven invaluable to those
fortunate enough to develop them."

Officer Gonzalo Lara
Los Angeles Police Department, Mission Area

 

About Gary's Humanitarian Work

"Gary is an incredible inspiration. He is an amazing player, performer, and humanitarian.
It is amazing to see a harmonica player give back and dedicate his music and love of music to special needs children.
There is nothing more valuable than bringing a smile to the face of a child, and Gary does that."

~Todd Slobin, Producer of 2010 KBA Award-winning film "Pocket Full Of Soul"

"I am heartily supportive of Harmonikids. We have seen the power of music in transforming young lives.
Gary Allegretto and his work is most worthy of support."

~Dan Aykroyd, House of Blues Foundation

"This morning your presence in the school with all the children makes me feel that Haiti will not perish,
Haiti has not died, and Haiti will live again...
After Jan 12th I was very sad, but this morning you make me feel that there is hope for Haiti and these children -
hope that their lives can become better."

~ Mr. Runner, Director of the Humaniste School

"Laughter and music are integral parts of the Haitian society, that we haven't been able to see since the earthquake...
Just to see how excited they were to be able to learn something,
to know that they can carry the music in their pockets, and what they now have ...
earthquakes can't take that away."

~Tamika Allen, Foreign Service Officer, USAID

"Music is so important to the culture here, and it is something that these kids will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives, so it's really a great gift that is given today....We're really grateful that we could witness the great work that Harmonikids is doing in partnership with the Restavek Foundation."
~Sonia Kim, US Embassy

"In our country, music is so important to us. People can have so many problems,
but as soon as they hear music, it brings joy to their lives."

~Sister Kitly, Immaculate Conception School

"It's very encouraging to see the kids laugh and have fun...
they feel so important that someone has come all the way from the USA to teach them how to play the harmonica, that's touching."

~Rosalyn Phillips, Restavek Foundation

“When Gary Allegretto takes command the children listen. The students provided a wonderful audience applauding with enthusiasm each song Gary performed. The joy for all of us was seeing the smiles on the children’s faces. Some were so excited that you could visibly see them shake. They embraced the harmonica with intensity learning to play the songs before it was time to say good-by.
Each student clutched their harmonica with protectiveness as they returned to class with bright smiling faces.
We understood only too well that the teachers would be in for a challenge the rest of the day trying to harness the excitement.”

~ Joan Conn, Director of the Restavek Foundation

About Gary's Work at Hospitals

"Our acute kids usually share a common diagnosis of severe depression and are usually here because
they have tried to commit suicide. You were able to engage these very sad kids and give them a bright
spot / happy spot in their treatment. Most all of the kids were smiling and engaged for the entire hour -
and these are usually kids that simply don't smile. Your music and harmonica instruction gave that to
them. On Saturday, I noticed one of the patients that was carrying his harmonica around the campus with
him. He was talking about using the harmonica to calm himself down. It became a coping skill for him.
We would very much like to have a return visit at some time in the future."

Garry Wolfe
Director of Recreation Therapy, Children's Psychiatric Hospital, Albuquerque, NM

"We had Gary come to our camp held at Brookfield Farms. The camp is where burn survivor children
come to play with other scarred children without feeling self conscious about their scars. Gary’s
workshop was an awakening for the boys, girls, adults, and staff. The children sat on the grass in a circle,
listening to Gary and learning to play the harmonicas. Not only were the children entranced, so were the
adults. It was a beautiful coming together of kids that thought they could never do this. As heartwarming
as it was for the kids it was, also, equally beneficial for their self-esteem."

A. Richard Grossman, M.D.
Medical Director of the Grossman Burn Center

"You have a wonderful gift for teaching and interacting with children, making each and every one of them
feel very special. You made it simple, fun and were full of praise for them. We were all amazed at how
quickly the children picked up the songs. It was lovely watching them all so intent on learning to play the
songs, and your warm encouragement helped them all feel they would be successful. Several of the chil-
dren who took part in your class were playing their harmonica around the corridors for days after the ses-
sion, telling everyone they could now play the harmonica! The children were so proud of themselves.
Thanks also for being so generous with the harmonicas. Thanks again for your kindness, patience and
enthusiasm shown to our kids. I'm sure it's something they will never forget. We hope if you are ever in
Australia again, you will treat our patients to another session."

Debra Fowler
The Children's Hospital, Westmead, Australia

About Gary's Harmonikids

"There is always a crowd in the atrium with everybody playing their harmonicas and making beautiful
music...The ultimate goal is to help diminish some of the stress the guest families experience...The effect
is magical and immediate with music."

Mike Elias
Manager, The Ronald McDonald House
Los Angeles, CA

"Thank you so much for providing a harmonica 'jam session' for our families. It truly gave them an hour of
fun and great break from worrying about medical problems. The children talked about it for days! Thank
you for sharing your musical talent and your ability to relate to people."

Kim Briggs
Manager, The Ronald McDonald House
Wilmington, DE

"Our kids were thrilled when they received a brand new Hohner harmonica they could keep and practice
on. Gary gave an animated and child-friendly demonstration that prepared the kids and made them eager
to test their ability. After a few tentative attempts and gentle encouragement from Gary, the jam session
was a wildly successful interactive afternoon of fun. The activity posed the necessary challenge so that
upon its completion each child felt a sense of accomplishment...
It provided a wonderful learning experience that hopefully may springboard some of our children towards
developing their newly discovered musical talent. It's people like you that make a difference in the lives or
our kids. Thank you."

Jeff Nichols
Manager, The Ronald McDonald House
New York, NY

"The generosity and kindness shown by Harmonikids was overwhelming. The families and kids enjoyed a
great afternoon of fun and entertainment. The house was filled wit such laughter and music. The
harmonicas given to the kids were an awesome treat they will always enjoy and will continuously talk
about for a very long time. Their faces lit up when they first tried and actually could play the songs...now
they walk around the house and proudly proclaim their new talent. I'm certain that the experience they
had will be a wonderful memory that will last a lifetime. Your Harmonikids visit was greatly appreciated
and will never be forgotten, especially by the children. People like you in this world make possible for the
families and children to take themselves away from the normal stress of doctors visits and hurtful news
they consistently have to face on an everyday basis. You make places like Ronald McDonald Charities
feel like home. Once again Mahalo, Aloha, and God Bless You."

Nikee Wainit
Manager, The Ronald McDonald House
Honolulu, HI

"The children both in the he House and on the ward enjoyed it so very much...I believe your contribution to
their health has been enormous. 'Tom', the young 15-year-old, continued to play the harmonica through
complications after his bone marrow transplant. The harmonica gave him such a sense of achievement
and so much self-confidence. You remember his mother crying with joy as she listened to his playing;
well, she has stopped crying now and is looking forward to the day when he joins in at the country and
western music festival at Tamworth next year..."

Penny Douglas
Manager, The Ronald McDonald House
Randwick, Australia


"Gary was wonderful with our children. He was patient, funny and a great entertainer. The children were
delighted with their new harmonicas, fascinated by the music, and thrilled to be able to play along as he
taught them the songs. This was a great cultural and learning experience for everyone that attended and
the harmonicas are still being played today."

Judy Mitchell
Director, West Side Group
Los Angeles, CA



"We really appreciate what you're doing for these kids.
Most people walk away and you're going forward."

Chris Steinhiser
Parent of a child with cerebral palsy
La Poter, Indiana

"(Gary Allegretto’s Harmonikids is) a wonderful way for kids to get into the Blues, into the harmonica, and
most important, the filling and soothing of the soul that music can bring."

Bob Margolin
BluesWax Interview

"This is very inspiring."
Bruce Iglauer
President Alligator Records
2008 KBA Award Winner