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.
Dec 24, 2013

Happier Holidays with Music in Their Lives!

Hampton Virginia GITC
Hampton Virginia GITC

Dear Supporter,

This is a quick note of thanks to let you know how your donations to this project are making the holidays a happier time for children around the United States and Canada this year. Because you gave us the energy and funds to keep going, GITC has been able to:

  • Train and support 225 pK- 8 teachers to learn to lead music in their classrooms this fall!
  • Donate or loan instruments to programs in 86 schools from California to Boston, from Michigan to Ontario.
  • Bring songs and songwriting for learning to the hearts and minds of 19,000 students each day
  • Continue to restore Bluegrass musical traditions in the schools in Clay County, West Virgina
  • Make hands-on guitar and ukulele training possible for children and adults with extreme disabilities through
  • Give high school students wishing to perform community service through music a way to assist younger children by participating in our work.

What is in store for 2014 through this project?

For starters, in Head Start programs in Massachusetts, our trainer Jon Short will begin teaching music leadership to early childhood educators in January. In elementary schools in Burlington, Vermont, trainer Rik Palieri will continue the training he started last year, expanding his efforts to nearby communities as well. In Oakland and Berkeley, California , two new GITC trainers will reach out to K-8 educators new to this approach through the public schools. And this is just the beginning- so many more programs are on the horizon in February. We also have an exciting plan moving forward that involves more community concerts that bring the children and teachers together with community members to make music in public spaces, giving music a presence in the daily life of people outside the school walls. We just led the first public GITC community jam in San Diego 2 weeks ago and facilitated two holiday sing alongs at the public library in Encinitas, CA. Folks really came out to be a part of these events with the children. 

Guitars in the Classroom wants to wish you very happy holidays and the most joyous of New Years.

On behalf of the teachers and students in Hampton, Virginia, in Oxnard and Vista, California and all across the nation wherever there is a GITC program thanks to you, we hope your kindness comes back to you multiplied many times over. The love you give is making life better for thousands of children whose chances for success in school are improving because you choose care. Thank you for your blessings.

Please stay with us, be a part of this musical connection and help more children and people of every age find their voices, passion and inspiration together through sharing the power of song!

Let there be peace,


Oxnard, CA GITC
Oxnard, CA GITC
Vista, California GITC~
Vista, California GITC~
Bus Driving GITC in Clay WV!
Bus Driving GITC in Clay WV!


Nov 26, 2013

Thank you for Making a Difference!

Teacher Now Training in Virginia
Teacher Now Training in Virginia

Dear Friend,

On behalf of our organization as well as the children and teachers who will be making music because of your contribution, thank you so much for making the choice to give this project your support! These are precarious times for charitable work and each decision you make in favor of helping us- or any charity you like- is immensely important. It tells your friends and family that you stand for good. That you are not going to live life on the sidelines. That you are going to alleviate suffering and support what improves the quality of other human lives. And you have decided in funding GITC that this must include the arts. Thank you so much.

We are heading into the holiday season now with new classes on the horizon because of you. Not just classes, but new songs- ones that will increase language learning and literacy. The work in Hampton, Virginia, for example has really taken off! You can read about it in this report.

37 of you contributed to this project. Each one of you has done something that matters. Of particular note, I would like to thank Peter D'Addario and Joan Maute for contributing very significant matching funds to this campaign, and to Whitney Kroenke, Jasmin Powell, Art Harvey, Janet Godin, Della Peretti, Nathan Davis, and GITC friend, Kevin Wimer and his company, for pushing this campaign across the finish line. Thank you so much to you teachers, friends of teachers and family members who gave! We could not have raised $5,000 in such a short time without you all! Thank you!!

Now. instead of giving you platitudes, please allow me to complete this report by sharing a note I received day before yesterday from our program in Vista, Calfiornia. This in addition to the article from Hampton, Virginia will paint a pretty accurate picture of what is going on in the teacher training classes.

Vista Academy is a Title 1 (low income) school with a positive mission to learn through the arts. No matter how scarce their funding grows, the teachers are passionately dedicated to teaching and to their students and families. This fall they are taking GITC training for the first time. To understand how your contribution will matter to so many more people, please read what Margaret Welch, the GITC trainer in Vista has to say about her program.

Thank you again for being a part of Guitars in the Classroom in everything we are attempting to accomplish each day. We can do this as long as we stick together!

With endless gratitude,


The Note

                                                                                                                November 23, 2013

Hi Jess,

We have been busy in Vista.  We did not have class the week of our parent conferences.  But last Monday's class was our 6th class.  We have had no "drop outs," and in fact have gained a new member or two.  All of the guitars are being used, and we are in good shape.  Everyone is tuning their own guitar.

Our newest member is the person who will start teaching our school's music class after Thanksgiving.  She plays some guitar, and wondered about the open G.  We talked and I explained the program, and she thought it was great.  So she has joined us.  She is enjoying learning the open G chords, and is having a great time with us.  She has invited the teachers in the guitar class to bring their guitars to the music class with their students, and wants my input so we can coordinate.

Jolene, our lefty, is LOVING her lefty guitar.  It is amazing that the Godin people were able to send it. She wants to send a thank you letter.

Some interesting updates:  Our principal is totally into this.  She has been practicing her guitar at home, and her 2 kids now want to learn guitar.  She and two of our teachers from the class were in a meeting. She had already told me she had a meeting and would miss guitar class.  But, a couple of minutes later, in the three of them walked.  I was surprised.  After class the principal told me they were in the meeting when she looked at the clock and announced to all, "Well, I have to leave.  It is time for guitar class."  So great!

Our speech teacher has been using her guitar to piggy back simple songs for the speech skills with her students, and loves their participation when they are singing.

The ELD coordinator is starting the little class with the kindergarteners and their parents.  She is loving the Amigos materials and other GITC ideas.  We are coordinating, and I am helping her with piggyback words for some concepts.  She is leading the singing, and the other teacher who is doing the story part is one of our regular guitar members.  GITC has really enriched that whole  kindergarten ELD class.  Very exciting!

Our class played some cute Thanksgiving and Halloween songs, and played them with their classes.  They can now play The Lion Sleeps Tonight and the Addition and Subtraction songs to I've Been Working on the Railroad.  We have been doing the shuffle strum.  I made the eggs by digging out our plastic Easter eggs from our garage and filling them with rice.  Nice device for the shuffle rhythm.

One of the teachers wants to be able to play Izz's Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  Online I found the chords for his original version, too hard for our group.  But I also found a version in the key of G which we will be able to play after I teach them the C major and Em, so that is where we are headed.  If we put the capo at the fifth fret and don't strum the bass strings, it sounds a lot like a ukelele.  I am also very excited to get into the 12 bar blues in about 2 weeks.  I have a friend, a former VAPA teacher who now is at the high school, who plays bass.  I plan to surprise the class by having him come play bass with us as we have a blues jam in a few of weeks.  Wouldn't that be fun??

Have a great Thanksgiving.  I am glad to have the week off.  So busy.  So ready for a break.



Oct 14, 2013

We're Strumming into Fall!

Music Makes a Difference in learning!
Music Makes a Difference in learning!

Hello, Supportive Friend of Music!

We want to give you a quick note to catch you up with the good things your gift has made possible already this school year! It’s an exciting time and I am so grateful you are with us!

The school year is off to an exciting (and somewhat controversial) start around the U.S. with the introduction of the Common Core Content Standards. These standards bring critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills to the forefront of America education. Instead of focusing primarily on units of test-able factoids and quantifiable memorization, the Common Core attempts to help our kids employ their bright minds in collabroative, creative and useful ways that will lead to long term understanding and success.

While many teachers agree it’s a move in “the right direction,” it also steps up the work load for teachers everywhere and increases the expectations for our students. Much discussion about these standards is underway everyday. Not everyone agrees on their value or viability but in general the buzz is positive. At its’ best, the Common Core is asking teachers to engage students in compelling activities and projects that build not only core subject area knowledge but also help them develop lasting life skills for the 21st Century.

With your support, GITC can make the process as joyful, artistic and effective as possible this year! Music will absolutely help. The power of music to engage everyone and lift spirits is undeniable. Please find the link to a great article about why music makes things so much more enjoyable with this report.

This week GITC will be sharing at our website a NEW how-to powerpoint that breaks the goals of the Common Core down within a framework of 21st century skills, and weaves the whole process through collaborative student music making and songwriting for learning. This should make connections clearer for teachers and also make it easier for any teacher to show her or his administrator how and why music has a helpful place in the general classroom!

Please stay with us to help us launch new programs - in alignment with the Common Core- this fall. We already got started in Hampton, Virgina, Clay, West Virginia, Oxnard, CA, Vista, CA, and in a few weeks we start in Lansing, MI!

Guitars in the Classroom needs your continuing support to give teachers the training and supplies to make music in the general classroom possible. Together, let's empower teachers to boost student engagement and success through writing, playing and singing songs with new vocabulary and better language fluency. Let's give them music that improves student reading comprehension and the ability to decode language syllabically. (Remember that song lyrics really emphasize the different syllables in each word as it scans across musical notes.) Let's pour music into our schoools together.

Your donation of any amount makes a difference not for one or two but for 240 30 children at a time!

These darling students in the photo you are seeing are only in their second month of third grade at Sandburg Elementary School in Mira Mesa, Ca. Their teacher trained with us - and they can each already play four chords on ukulele! As a class they have already written five songs for math, language arts and science lessons! In this photo they are playing “The Earth is Our Mother” as part of their study of the Kumayay people in preparation for Thanksgiving. You can see the engagement and joy in their faces- they power of the music in their hands.

Please give now and make this magic possible for children in classrooms all over the United States. You are helping us change so many young lives when you take action on right here on!

Thank you for your awesome support. Together we are making a difference every day.




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