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      LEAP Summer Program for Transition Youth offers experience

      Frank strong conducts his class for 2016 LEAP Academy attendees, teaching harmonica and sharing a musical experience. Here a student tries out Frank's guitar as the teacher smiles broadly.Frank Strong is a bit of a ham and an agent of fun. He is also a song leader as witnessed during a visit to his harmonica class, part of the lighter side of this summer's 2016 LEAP Academy held at the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB).

      Class begins with Frank leading the group in playing a major scale on their harmonicas. He proceeds to play a selection of simple folk songs on the guitar and the youthful LEAP attendees join in. A swirling mass of harmonica notes rise and fall from the budding musicians seated in IDB’s Assembly Room. One enthusiastic singer adds her clear and melodious voice to the proceedings. “Strains of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” give way to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and “The Farmer in the Dell.” Frank wraps up the first portion of the class with Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and a young woman responds with a resounding “Yee haw!”

      LEAP students play harmonica with Frank Strong playing guitar.After a short pause, the jam resumes. Participants belt out hearty renditions of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” among other contemporary selections. Hand-clapping ensues and the tables suddenly morph into percussion instruments. LEAP participants are taking the opportunity to blow off a little steam at the end of another feature-filled day.


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