Testimonials

HarpsCool Plaudits:

 February 2008. Laurence Pitt, Head Teacher at Ashley Down Junior School says…

 “Ben started working with groups of children in our school last year and the impact has been fantastic. The harmonica groups are mixed age groups, with boys and girls working together from a wide variety of backgrounds. All the children are engaged and motivated by the high quality harmonica lessons and within a very short time were keen to show off their newly acquired skills by playing to the whole school in assemblies. A brilliant way to get children interested in learning a musical instrument. Harmonicas have been a real success in our school!”

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February 2008. Adam Barber, Head Teacher at Henleaze Junior School says…

“We’ve been really pleased with the numbers of children playing harmonica. A whole new bunch are now playing music and enjoying it. Parents have been hugely impressed with the Henleaze Harmonica Orchestra!”

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February 2008. Yvonne Roberts, Head Teacher at Blaise Primary says…

“We are very pleased – pleasantly surprised with the children that have taken this up. Parents are notorious for not paying in this school – I’m amazed they have. Self esteem has been boosted all round. Luke B has excelled with the harmonica and is focused, whereas he doesn’t do well in the classroom and his life tends towards bad behaviour, chaos and lack of achievement. His involvement with this has been great for him. I’m amazed so many children from here attended the Harmonica Festival in October – and the fact that they won a cup is a testament to their way these children have engaged with learning the harmonica.”

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February 2008. Alex Wilkinson, Head Teacher at Christchurch Primary School in Downend says…

 “One of my educational highlights of the past few years was 15 children from our school joining 80 children from 15 other schools for a Blues Brothers Harmonica performance put together by Ben Hewlett at the Colston Hall in Summer 2003. There were children, many of whom boys, not normally ‘drawn’ to either music or performing, putting on the most amazing show. But as well as the ‘one-off show’, the fun, the discipline, and the challenge of learning the harmonica has for many children had a manifest impact on other aspects of their learning and behaviour in school. I can’t recommend it enough!”

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 February 2008. Mark Freeman, Head Teacher at St Michaels Stoke Gifford says…

“Over the last 8 years Ben Hewlett has been organising harmonica lessons in both my current school and at Elm Park, my previous school. He has led assemblies for the whole school and the children have been spellbound by the infectious enthusiasm for the world of the harmonica. This passion has encouraged my children to learn the harmonica themselves. It has been great to see children who never thought of themselves as musical really taking off with this brilliantly simple instrument. I would really recommend it to everyone!”

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February 2008. Nicola Bailey, Head Teacher at Charborough Road says…

“So much more than a music lesson!! Our children have been having lessons from HarpsCool for several years now, and I can recommend it thoroughly to other schools. We have a high number of children with Special Educational Needs (including statements) in the school, so for us the fact that the lessons are so inclusive is paramount. Children are enabled to succeed and develop their skills in a very encouraging environment – the teacher has that special knack of getting the best out of each of them.

 Sometimes this can be the first time that children have had the confidence to stand up in front of peers/adults and do anything at all! Not only do the lessons develop their musical skills, there is clear and tangible growth in the childrens’ concentration, self-esteem, ability to work with others….the list goes on!”

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February 2008. Wendy Preedy, Head Teacher at Baileys Court says… 

“We are very impressed with the opportunity that the children have with the harmonica; an instrument that is so accessible. As a school we are enthusiastic about children having opportunities to create music together, and we are delighted to extend that to Ben’s ’10 week whole class harmonica course’ – which we think will be ongoing for Year 3 children.

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 It’s really cool cos it fits in your pocket and you can get it out and play anytime.

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I like it cos it’s much easier than guitar and I played Star Wars on the first day.

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 Mt dad plays harmonica but he’s not very good – I’m teaching him

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 July 2012: Dear Aidan, Better late than never, I wanted on behalf of the PTA and Elm Park to say a big Thank You to you and your performers at the Summer Fayre.

They were great and the crowd loved it!

Overall the day has raised just over £2400, given the current climate we are all very proud of this and please that we will be able to help support the schools requirements for new computing equipment next year.Thanks again. Mandy

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27.6.12 ‘Just to say thank you for all your hard work at S’s party. He would have liked to sit and play harmonica with you all evening.’

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 ’Fantastic fun!’

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 ’There was only one fight and we ran out of sausages. At the end the girls, myself, S and T cut loose jamming along with Lady Gaga.’ JW

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6.12: Hi James,

 Just wanted to say again what an amazing performance it was yesterday at the Henleaze harmonica assembly. The children played really well and looked like they were really enjoying themselves.

 I also wanted to say thank you for inspiring H. He really enjoys your lessons, and we never have to remind him to practice – he plays several times every day. He’s even taught himself to play Oh When the Saints with his harmonica upside down. Is there anything we can focus Henry on over the holidays? Are you aware of any iPad apps that would be useful?

Thanks again James.

Teresa T

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Hi!

Hi :) Just browsing youtube and stumbled across one of your videos…! I used to play the harmonica with you (many years ago) so they brought back some memories! Doubt you remember me.. Kath W, at the time i was in St Michaels, Winterbourne. Played with you in the colston hall (blues brothers!) and won a few trophies in the competitions..! Still have them up in my room :) Also came up handy to talk about in a recent university interview! Think im gonna get the harmonica out and have a go for old times sake as i enjoyed the vids on here :)  

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I think you’re spot on with other benefits of playing music – we’ve seen H grow enormously in confidence.

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 Re video for parents

Steven K: Thanks for this, I think the videos are useful, hope the cough is better.

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 I found it quite interesting getting a kind of preview of what’s up for this term… I think the harmonica is particularly suited to the Blues so I enjoyed the quick dip in; Thanks! Matt.

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 Fantastic idea, thanks!

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Dear Ben

Thank you for this. E (reception st johns) very enthusiastic playing at home – if a little random!

Kind regards

Jacqui (mum)

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Hi Ben, what a great idea this is! If only all teachers did this then parents could support childrens learning at home in a far more beneficial way, brilliant idea!

Hope you’re well, Rosie (J’s mum, colstons primary)

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 Dear Ben,

 Thank you.. I definitely think this video was helpful…especially since I had no idea how you even hold the harmonica right to get those lovely groovy tunes!!!

 It will be nice to have such videos showing a few techniques to carry along as I practise with my daughter.

 Thanks once again

 Best Regards,

Macreena

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My son goes to St Michael on the Mount and is in the Thursday group. His teacher’s name is Julie. We have watched the two videos and have found them useful.

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 29.2.12: Thanks for giving S such a good introduction to playing an instrument, he’s had a really good time with the harmonica, but has stopped as he had the opportunity to play the trumpet which he’s always been keen to do.

Many thanks

Charlie Mason

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22.11.11: is there any way of continuing Harmonica lessons on the edge of Dartmoor! I think you have given J a gift for life and I’m sure he will always have a passion for this wonderful instrumen which all ages can enjoy. Ps don’t mind you quoting me to other parents

Best wishes A

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23.8.11: I just want to take the opportunity to thank you and A’s teacher for a fab year. She loved every lesson and its been a pleasure seeing her progress. The lessons have given her a fantastic start in learning to play an instrument and I believe it has given her confidence in that she can learn to play music in the future.

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 Thank you for giving A the opportunity to learn the harmonica, kind regards, Claire

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Hi Ben thanks for your email, sorry we will be unable to make the concert this year.

Sadly J will have to finish his harmonica lessons with you shortly as we are moving to Devon early Dec (probably the 9th) He has thoroughly enjoyed playing and we only wish we could transport Harpscool to those rural Devonshire schools (any chance ?)

Thankyou for the confidence and enjoyment of music, especially the harmonica, you have helped to create for J.

I hope Harpscool continues to flourish, and many, many thanks.

Angela S

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15.8.11: Please pass on my thanks to Ben for organising a fantastic performance at Art Week – I am so thrilled that I.R. is discovering the joy of performing, and learning some musical skills as well.

Best regards, GR

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Hi Ben

My son B has been in your harmonica school at Westbury School this last term or so and has really enjoyed it. Louise and I heard you all play at the recent Red Squirrel Day and it was great fun. It has made a really big difference for B, and it’s the first instrument he’s ever played, so thanks for all your efforts. SB 20.7.11

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“M-B very much enjoyed her first lesson. She hasn’t stopped playing and in fact she even composed, wrote down and played me a tune for Mother’s Day, which was fabulous!” M-B’s Mum. 13.4.11

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M is loving his lessons! He played his harmonica all the way home from school after his first lesson. He has practiced every day since! It is lovely to see him so enthusiastic! Long may it continue. CH 1.2.11

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Hello Ben and James

We just wanted to thank you both for your contribution to the Prom. B really enjoyed it and every family member has now seen his first concert debut! We were really impressed with all your efforts. Thank you. I and A P

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Just to say J really enjoyed his lesson on Tuesday at Elmlea Infants School, and he now has me practising with him at home!! Thank you for making the first lesson so enjoyable.

Kind regards A

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Hi, S loved his lesson yesterday he played twinkle twinkle little star all evening. I was very impressed with how much he had learned in his first lesson and the fact he took it seriously and was playing in tune (from a 5yr old who loves noise i was expecting lots of noise with no actual melody to it lol). He was quite dissapointed this morning when he found out his lessons were only once a week and not everyday but is happy he can practice when he gets home! He’s even taught me how to play, so it has opened up a whole new world for both of us.

Many Thanks S

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 Just like to take this opportunity to say how much I enjoyed the Xmas concert the church, I thought they all did brilliantly and H is enjoying the lessons very much. Many thanks LW

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R wants to try the drums now, and but will carry on with the books though with encouragement from us at home. I think they are beginning to show some fruit as he listens to the CD. I don’t know where I would have started to teach him so it has given him a great start. HT. Keep up the good work. They may be back…

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 I just have to say that I’m so pleased with the way J is playing…. He was practising last night and I could hear the Star Wars theme coming upstairs and then “I believe I can fly”…. it was amazing !!

Admittedly he doesn’t practice enough because he has other after school things to do as well but I am very impressed…thanks again, KO

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B is loving her harmonica lessons, and I’m learning too. Even our dog sings along !!!

Thank you for teaching such a cool instrument..

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Hi Ben

I spoke to you the other day about my son Joseph starting harmonica lessons at Henleaze. I just wanted to say how electrified he was yesterday after your session at the school.

He re-enacted your teaching and told your jokes to show me how great you were, he showed me what he learned to do, taught me to do it, and then worked his way through the CD and book with enormous excitement and much exclaiming for about two hours! It was the nicest evening we’ve had together for ages. Then he got up this morning to get back on with it and was so absorbed he made himself late for school…

It’s really given him a way of making music which he can use to express himself – improvising round the exercises you provide and dancing around while he’s playing. And it’s obviously so rewarding – I think it’s a marvellous esteem-booster, he was so proud of being able to teach me how to do it, as well as accomplish one different rhythm after another. I haven’t seen him like this for a long time, it’s opened up a way of really exploring music.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this develop. Thanks!

GS

PS – he’s really enjoying the lessons .. although there’s nothing as good at tugging on your heartstrings as hearing a small boy playing the ‘blues’ on a harmonica when he’s been sent to his room!!!!!! Oh well, at least if he doesn’t get into University he’ll have a busking career to fall back on!!!!!

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Thank you for inspiring our little godson who goes to Stoke Bishop primary. I was at the concert last night – it’s the first time I have seen him relaxed and smiling on stage – he has really enjoyed learning the harmonica. I am not sure he was huffing and puffing in the right places – but his self-esteem has hit the roof!

Best wishes

Christine

Christine Wright

Teaching & Learning Consultant for Music

South Gloucestershire Music Service

South Gloucestershire

BS34 6HY

01454 863147

christine.wright@southglos.gov.uk

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Dear Ben

Really enjoyed the Stoke Bishop School ‘Prom’ concert on Wednesday, personally the hi-lite was the Harmonica Group. Regards VK

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The Stoke Bishop Proms were fantastic; congratulations on working miracles with the kids in such a short time. J and P really enjoyed it! From the enthusiasm from the other parents I think that you may be gaining a few more students next year!

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I wanted to say that my daughter is really enjoying her harmonica lessons. She is becoming familiar with music and is starting to recognise notes, even though she’s only 6! She enjoyed taking part in the concert and it has helped instill a great deal of confidence in her. Even if she decides in the future to not continue with the harmonica, I’m sure her lessons will have stood her in good stead and given her a musical grounding which will no doubt help her with other instruments she may choose to learn. ML 10/1/10

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We really enjoyed the concert last week and it got Will practicing at home more than ever. Mrs T Dec 09

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QUOTES about Festival October 09:

 Hi Ben

 Thank you so much for the Harmonica festival – it was a great and fun day out, giving me real “quality time” with J. He really appreciated his Dad taking him and sharing in his new-found musical interest. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring Joshua next year (he will be three!) as he was most put out he couldn’t join us this time!

The workshop was the best part for us – children love their parents to join with them in learning a new skill. We spent the rest of the next week practising some tunes together. J also loved to see all the different harmonicas on display and loved getting his first “ten hole” model. He was thrilled to perform in front of everyone (thanks to your encouragement) and loved the applause he received – he was very courageous to do that and it was brilliant for his confidence.

Whilst both of us enjoyed the afternoon concert I wonder if it was a little long for little ones as he really couldn’t concentrate for such a long stretch. And could we perhaps have the festival on a different week-end from the half-term break? Whilst Sunday is a great day for it, we had to re-arrange our holiday plans to attend – others might well not have been able to do this?

It really was a great day, Ben – thank you for such a creative, enjoyable and enthusing experience – so stimulating both for J and myself!

Kind regards

MS

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Hi Ben

Thanks for the festival last weekend, the kids loved it and so did I! I’m not entirely certain who enjoyed it more…

Both the girls were full of enthusiasm leaving the folk house on sunday and couldn’t wait to get home to show their stepdad their new harmonicas and to play the tunes that they had learned.

It’s a real shame that there weren’t more kids there. The workshops were brilliant and T in fact had a workshop all to herself on Sunday as it was so close to lunchtime and the end of a long morning of sessions.

Thanks again. we’ll definitely be back for more next year.

Kind Regards

E, T and L

Tyndale Primary

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Hi Ben

Will really enjoyed the festival. The sessions were well organised, taught and made music fun. It was really worthwhile with lots of opportunity to have a go. Even making up your own tunes. All the teachers were enthusiastic and as parents it gave us an insight into classes. We enjoyed it too! I was impressed as to how musical theory was taught at such a young age.Well done and looking forward to next year. K B

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Hi Ben,

I just wanted to take some time out to thank you for all your hard work at the harmonica festival this weekend.

H was buzzing in the car on the way back home and it was great to see her “composing” her own tunes and offering to play them on her “4-hole” or “10-hole” (the freebie harmonica you gave out in the cafe that morning).

I was also very proud to see her perform her “scale of C” and you deserve a lot of credit for encouraging her to do just that. Holly is often very shy and this was great for her confidence – I’m sure I could never have persuaded her to stand up in front of all those people!

I thought the structure of the event was great – the workshop sessions were great at building confidence and it was really nice to see the children mixing in with the adults at the end – a good balance of inspiration provided by the adults and participation from the children.

If I had to find anything negative at all it would be the delay in starting the concert. Since the event spanned lunch, it was difficult to choose the optimum time to eat – and we did have to miss a bit of the concert in the end as my son’s stomach would wait no longer :-)

I really hope you continue to run these events and that you are better supported by the schools in sending large numbers of children to attend in future.

Well done, and thank you again!

PB