Guitars in the Classroom

Since 1998, Guitars in the Classroom (GITC) has been inspiring, training and equipping classroom teachers to integrate music making across the academic curriculum through "song-based instruction" so students of all ages have educational, musical access & opportunity at school every day. Our work prepares educators to lead music, employing it as a dynamic tool for reaching all learners, teaching all subjects, and building character, creativity and community.Programs & materials are free.
Apr 7, 2015

Thanks to You We're Having a Uke-Nado!

Normal Heights Grade 1
Normal Heights Grade 1

Dear Friends of GITC,

Thank you for your profound show of support for the work of this non-profit! Because of each of you, our office is experiencing a uke-nado. Your gifts have made it possible to begin moving beautiful, brightly colored ukuleles from their manufacturers into classrooms. First stop? San Diego for inventory and tuning.

Many hands make light the work. Two teachers, two retired friends who volunteers and three more helpers are on the uke-tuning, boxing and shipping committee. Jessica Leonard, Caley Smalling, Rae Newoman, Neal White, Anthony Tinelli and Ariel Solano and Elias Turner have all been showing up to unpack and get instruments ready for the children to play.

The first delivery went to a first grade classroom at Normal Heights Elementary School. The children responded with wonder and played their hearts out while learning to form contractions from "two different words" to a song their wonderful teacher, Michael Renner created.

The second delivery in on its way to 13 teachers in Longmont, Colorado, a small farming and ranching community 45 minutes outside of Denver. There each teacher will take a ukulele back to his or her classroom and learn to support a "music helper" to strum along in the seat next to them. This is an essential first step for teachers to take before they feel ready to implement a whole strumming station.

The third delivery went to 8 classrooms in the barrio in San Diego where children have no access to instruments without your help. These kids are so excited about their little red Diamond Head ukes. The second graders are using them to compose lyrics about habitats and animal adaptation. The new vocabulary words this is generating are very expressive and are motivating children to learn to spell. We are awaiting permission to share their photos.

This Wednesday, 8 ukes are going to a kinder classroom of eager little music makers who will be writing new verses to "Get On Board" to include their sight words.

I've got a word that we all know and "happy" is it's name. I've got a word that we all know and "happy" is it's name..HAPPY spells happy, HAPPY spells happy, HAPPY spells happy, "Happy" is a word I know!

Thank you for helping our organization make learning to speak, read and write in English a creative, joyful experience for children in need! We are so grateful to be making progress with your involvement! We'll keep sending these happy little instruments out because you have given so generously.

In service and profound gratitude,

Jess

Normal Heights with Cody Lovaas
Normal Heights with Cody Lovaas
Volunteer Crew 1
Volunteer Crew 1
Volunteer Crew 2
Volunteer Crew 2

Links:

Mar 6, 2015

Thank You For Helping Children Learn to Read!

Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary
Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary

Dear Friend,

You may be asking yourself, "Why is Guitars in the Classroom thanking me for helping children learn to read? I donated to their music program. What gives?"

Recently, our organization has been focusing musical interventions in classrooms on helping students who are struggling to acquire English as a second language to improve their speaking, reading and writing skills through songs and songwriting. Your gift is making a double difference for these children because as they learn to feel, count and keep the beat, strum ukuleles, sing together and on their own, they are also learning to read.

Think back to when you first started reading. Do you remember the mystery of which way the stems to "b, d, p and q" went? Imagine growing up in a Spanish speaking household where h's are silent and j's sound like "y's", then coming to school and being expected to know how to spell words with all of those letters. Children in grade 2 who are still having trouble with these essential kinds of language components need a way to get the information into their minds and mouths that has nothing to do with a worksheet or a test. They must use them in motivating, meaningful contexts everyday.

This winter, your dollars are helping us train teachers to reverse the language learning train back into the station before it runs off the rails leaving kids behind. The teachers in underperforming schools around the US who are studying with us are writing lyrics to songs that will really matter to their specific students by teaching intial consonants, letter blends, consonant vowel consonant words and much more. By reteaching the basic letters and sounds embedded in an undeniable rhythm and melody, children are finally able to memorize, recognize and use them! We are seeing the kids enthusiastically grasping language while really loving learning through music.

This month, you can enjoy the feature piece from the Today Show that shows performer Jason Mraz interacting in a second grade GITC classroom at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Logan Heights, San Diego. This school has 100% poverty and over 70% English Learners. In that classroom filmed by the Today Show, we are coaching teacher Christine Tomkinson to also apply music to teaching skip counting! The link to the video is included in this report.

I hope you will feel proud of this work that YOU, yes you have made possible. Our work here in the barrio was funded exclusively by donations to this project! As part of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, our work at Luther Burbank does not receive government funding, just their inclusion in statistical outcomes after three years. Without you, we could not be participating. Now, 10 of the 13 faculty members on staff are actively training with GITC, leading and writing songs for learning, and kids in every classroom are strumming ukuleles during math, reading, social studies and science when they sing their lessons. The school is transforming from a place of conflict and suffering caused by abject poverty into a bright artistic environment with happier students and encouraged teachers. I was visiting yesterday and actually saw an 8 year old boy singing and skipping from his classroom to the office. A first!

Please stay with this project and help us create materials that teachers everywhere can use for free. We want every child to benefit from our efforts this year and your participation is necessary to make it possible. Our dream for the 2015 school year is a new place on the website with songs and lessons for English and Math learning at every grade level!

Thank you for giving us the support we need to make such a substantial difference in the lives of our neediest students. The ripple effect will be felt for generations.

Peace and grateful best wishes,

Jess

students and teachers
students and teachers

Links:

Jan 20, 2015

Thank you for fully funding our project!

Michele Harris Padron and students in Oxnard, CA
Michele Harris Padron and students in Oxnard, CA

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much for being a force for good this winter by teaming up with our organization to improve the lives of children through music. Your gift is already empowering Guitars in the Classroom to provide musical learning programs for children in high-poverty schools. With your help, we are already preparing to provide musical access, instruments to play, teacher training and songs for learning and well-being in these schools. This absolutely could not be happening without your support and desire to lift up these kids in need. A new report just came out showing that literally half of the children in America are living in poverty. This is a shocking figure and shows just how much work there is to be done. Thank you for being a problem solver!

Because of you, our 2015 programs will now reach 200 more teachers serving 18,000 public school students, most of whom are living in highly stressful situations.

Imagine Felix, a child who has never found his chance to shine, getting the chance to strum a guitar and count in his peers singing their song for math in his fifth grade classroom. He will be proud to be a leader and he LOVES music. His teacher will be coming to a GITC class every week because of you.

Imagine Serena who is six and lives in a very crowded 1 bedroom apartment in the barrio with her whole family and her mother's sister and her four children. Most of the children are sleeping on chairs or on the floor. Serena's life at home is hungry, noisy, crowded. She worries a lot. But when she sings each day, she feels peace and harmony. Her voice has its own lovely quality. She is excited to get to class each morning where her kindergarten teacher is leading music with a set of student ukuleles you helped us place in that classroom. And she can concentrate on the sounds of letters and the sequence of numbers tucked into each song. She is learning.

Imagine Emilie who has been teaching second grade for five years. She always wanted to make music as a child but her family had no money for an instrument or lessons. And her elementary school had no music program. Zero access. Now she is 30 years old and she can get a ukulele and a guitar from us for free and take a lesson every week at no charge. She will come to class early to share the lyrics she and her students will be inventing to learn grammar. She and her students will sing their original song about addition at the next parent education night. They will videotape a story song they write to go with their class play about the environment in the springtime. And every child will learn to play the ukulele this year. The quality of Emilie's teaching will become more joyful, creative and spontaneous because of you. Every year, she will be able to share music with her students because in 2015, she will become a Song Leader for Learning. In her 22 year career she alone will make a difference for 1000 children because she will wind up sharing and leading music for neighboring classrooms, for her children's kinder buddy class and after school at Music Club (which she will start). This is a realistic look at what happens when we train a really engaged teacher.

I honestly cannot thank you enough for your gift to Guitars in the Classroom. Hopefully you will check in with our facebook page to see the updates as they emerge. You will know you are someone who made it all happen. The address there is www.facebook.com/guitarsintheclassroom . You can also visit our website and sign up for our infrequent enewsletters if you want more information. We send out a lot of photos and some little stories there.

Thank you again from the depths of my heart. We really are making education better and I have high hopes for the twelve months ahead.

With you in gratitude and service for the children,

Jess

students in South Central LA at the Pullum Center
students in South Central LA at the Pullum Center

Links:

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