Children from Mr. Podlasek’s second-grade performed at Oak Park’s Belmont Village last week, sparking smiles and warming hearts for the residents. The students have been working with OPEF’s Art Start artist John Milan, who taught them songs to sing and perform on harmonica. Some students also played works on piano and violin.

Milan, who has been teaching since 1980, pointed out that the harmonica used to be taught in most schools across the United States, back in the golden era of the harmonica. He encouraged children to think of their great-grandparents who were playing harmonica at their age. “You’re kind of recreating history in the classroom by doing this,” Milan said. In the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, he noted that there were also  harmonica contests in major department stores in large cities. 

Milan also added, “I like working with Mr. Podlasek, because he’s so enthusiastic. He does a great job with getting them psyched up to play harmonica.”  Each child got to keep a harmonica and songbook at the end of the class.