Because of YOU, classes for teachers of children at risk are now beginning in communities with tremendous need this month.
Thanks to your gift to Guitars in the Classroom, thousands of students are beginning to learn through music in Victorville, California, in Oceanside, California, on Oahu, Hawaii, in Lee, Massachusetts, and in Phoenix, Arizona beginning in October. This Wednesday the 19th is GlobalGiving's bonus matching day. Whatever you give on Wednesday is going to do twice as much good. A gift of absolutely any amount will matter twice as much.
So please allow me to encourage you to take a moment right now to imagine the sheer joy that is about to flourish in the hearts of impoverished children this month when a most surprising thing happens- their teacher brings out a guitar and says, "Children, I am just learning to play so I hope you will join me in singing a song today."
Please imagine this in a classroom where not enough money in the school budget exists to buy the most basic supplies- paper and pencils. Where that teacher must teach every subject including physical education because all the specialist positions have been eliminated. Where the library is barely staffed and there is no counselor for the children save the one that administers tests all over the district and cannot stop to talk. Where there is no school nurse. Where there are 32-48 students stuffed into classrooms that once held 20 students. Now imagine that guitar and that teacher inviting everyone to sing and you will know what relief, hope, and joy you are empowering GITC to create.
In the high desert region of California, some families are barely subsisting and others are homeless, living in encampments without running water or electricity. Their children come to school exhausted without enough food in their bellies to keep focus. In Oceanside, home of Camp Pendelton, hundred of kids say good-bye to one or both of their parents for months at a time as they are deployed for service in Iraq. These children feel such stress. They are hungry in ways only children whose parents go to war know. In Hawaii, many of the students are living in real poverty. In the previous school year, the state set 17 furlough dates- no school every other Friday. No money to pay the teachers.
This is where your dollars are being spent this fall. On kids for whom music is more than a pleasure- it is a life line to learning, to hope, to happiness, a reason to wake up and come to school. A way to simply connect. Lessons they receive through music give them a time when troubles are forgotten and the happiness can fill their souls.
Wednesday of this week is a MATCHING Bonus Giving Day at GlobalGiving. If you give to GITC then, GlobalGiving will do the same. Please help us reach many more these children with music, love, and learning. Please give now so your gift allows us to do twice the work on your behalf. We are all the same here, working toward this cause together- I am so personally grateful that you care, and I hope our work gives you a deep sense of pride.
With warm wishes that you will receive many times over the love you give to others,
Dear Friend of Making Music,
Guitars in the Classroom would like to invite you to make music with us! For free! Online!
Just as is true for teachers and school staff who learn to play with GITC, you do not need to have any previous musical experience. Heart and soul are the magical ingredients that can help any of us progress from shower or car singer to musician.
Around half of the teachers who train with GITC qualify themselves as shower singers and non-musicians when they get started with us, That tells you how much they want to make music- how grateful they are for GITC's assistance. It's a big deal for an adult to start with music. But with your help, GITC is making it happen- and children are the beneficiaries.
Maybe you are like about a quarter of the teachers who sign up for training. They took a few guitar lessons and stopped because it hurt, or they felt they couldn't change chords fast enough, or there were other things that came easier so they let it go. The saddest thing is those who stop singing or playing because someone has embarrassed them. Don't even get me started about this. It has a whole lot to do with why I started this work in the first place- reversing the damage of cruel comments.
Our approach is very gentle and painless at GITC and you can learn with us. We start in Hawaiian taro patch G tuning. This is super easy. The guitar sounds beautiful right away and you can begin to make music with just one finger. Think Hawaii and you'll understand. GITC provides beginners with a relaxing guitar experience. Is there any reason at all why you shouldn't also have a musically enjoyable, meaningful, successful experience, too?
You have helped us raise funds so more teachers have the special chance to discover their musicality with GITC, and they will share music with thousands of children who might otherwise miss out because you care to make this possible! Thank you so very much. So please, treat yourself to playing with us.
Guitars in the Classroom is partnering with a very ethical, well-run, positive. and stable online guitar instruction company called JamPlay. The website can be found at jamplay.com. At this site, about 50 guitar instructors including me (Jessica Baron) are teaching video guitar lessons, chatting with our students, and holding Q & A sessions. The JamPlay faculty covers a broad range of styles and levels. I feel very very blessed to be the newest instructor at the site!
Last April, I recorded 35 sequential guitar and voice lessons with JamPlay in the style of GITC so that teachers, friends, parents, volunteers, anybody can learn with us. JamPlay is currently editing these lessons and they are uploading about 2 per week... so far there are 11 of my lessons available at the site.
Would you like to see- for free? The folks at JamPlay have given us a special code so you can go to the site and take as many lessons as you wish- from me or from any of the teachers- and as many different teachers as you wish- for a week. There are no strings attached at all.
To access the free week- ANYTIME- just go to jamplay.com/gitc and sign on.
To watch any of my lessons to see the special ways we train the teachers with Guitars in the Classroom, just search for Jessica Baron and you'll find my lesson set.
To see if there is a teacher at the site who really appeals to you, feel free to visit any of us and watch as little or as much of any of our lessons. Ask questions, make requests, have fun!
If you wind up wanting to join at the end of the week, you'll get the chance and it will cost $20 for a month of unlimited lessons and JamPlay will donate $10 of this to free teacher training programs with GITC!
If you don't, then you can just sign off, and that will be that. Simple. And you will have experienced firsthand what our little organization is up to in teacher training classes.
So please join GITC in taking a positive musical step with us - whether it's just a quick peek or the beginning of a beautiful romance with playing the guitar. Since making music is important enough to you to give the chance to children, I hope you will also give this gift to yourself as part of the Guitars in the Classroom community.
Thanks for considering joining us in this new way. www.jamplay.com/gitc.
And oh! We have a new video to watch at our homepage, too... it's short and shows you our programs in action. Wanna see? www.guitarsintheclassroom.org !
Thank you for joining me in this awesome endeavor to keep the music alive in our schools and in the lives of children.
This month, many of you joined us for the first time! Thank you very much for finding Guitars in the Classroom and choosing to make a difference for children through training their teachers to make and lead music. The training you are supporting does so much for everyone by unlocking creativity, musicality, and confidence in the people children depend on every day, all day long. It's amazing how much impact a teacher has on the life of a child.
Thanks for caring about the teachers and giving THEM the chance to love teaching through music and to learn how to do it artfully and sensitively. Thank you for getting the guitars into their classrooms. For helping us create new programs and keep older ones going. 73% of the teachers who train with us, if they had to buy a guitar and pay for private lessons, could not take the first step. Finances and lack of self confidence would keep them back. Making sure this work free for them is crucial to this mission. If a teacher had to buy a guitar and pay for hour long classes, she'd have to find about $1000 somewhere to get through a year of GITC. She'd have to justify this to her family and herself even to get started. In the balance against the needs of her family, guitar and music would have to "wait" and might wait forever. And many teachers require 2-3 years of ongoing training because they are starting from the very beginning and becoming musical takes lots of time and practice. So she'd need that money every year. Some of the teachers who train with us might manage, but they are a tiny minority. And could they continue with it? You know the answer.
We at GITC think it's enough that the teachers GIVE us their time, their practice, their faith, and take a huge step by picking up a brand new instrument and playing it in their classrooms so their students can love learning with music. Thank you for giving the teachers your vote of faith and confidence and this life changing opportunity.
Each teacher reaches about 76 kids a week during the school day with free music making and another 23 before and after school in clubs and extra-curriculars. Multiply that by every year the teachers you are training stay in teaching and your gift is impacting thousands of students over time.
Why is this work so powerful? There is a lot of science we could tell you about, and at our website we keep adding articles. One reason is that the music and language centers of the human brain share space and functions. When we use one, we are growing and using the other. So music making builds language skills, and language is the gateway to much learning. Every song is filled with rich language- new vocabulary, poetry, essential phrases. Each one adds to what students know.
It is also powerful because making music opens hearts and minds together and lets all kinds of good feelings and ideas take hold. And when a teacher knows he can lead a song, write catchy, intelligent lyrics, strum the guitar and help the children sing and create their own new songs, then "teachable moments" multiply. Those kids are on board and part of the learning team.
Each time that teacher plays and sings with the students, he gets stronger, more capable, and happier. That joy is contagious and we all know that joy in a classroom means sunshine on the inside. Remember yourself trapped inside a classroom on a rainy day, staring at a daunting worksheet or test. Now... just add guitar and music. This is what you are giving our children everyday when you give to GITC. The chance to love learning more than they ever thought possible.
GITC wants you to have some stories to read as summer draws to a close, starting with this one from GITC trainer and Blues performer Robin O'herin. Robin began teaching with GITC just last year in Lee, Massachusetts. She held our first pilot program specially for teachers of students with special needs. We call that model MIRSE and you may have read about it already. It stands for Music Integration for Resource and Special Educators. She got 27 teachers in Lee all making and loving music! They did great and are ready for more training now. So the donations you are making this month are bringing the funds together for Robin to run a class for them there this fall. Here is the beginning of a story she wrote for our collection in Musical Miracles: Stories of MIRSE (pronounced "mercy") about her work with a student named Michael. To read the whole story, and others, simply write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you back with the whole collection as an edocument. Then you can read how many of our trainers are finding musical ways to help young people overcome even the greatest challenges life dishes out. Please enjoy, thank you for your precious support, and please keep up the great work!
Yours for the teachers and kids,
Michael’s Story: Paying Attention on the Inside by Robin O’Herin
His teachers told me that Michael always had to be in the spotlight. That he had a strong emotional need for validation from others. He would compulsively make himself the center of attention in every class. His teachers said this tendency frequently made Michael hard to deal with, disruptive, “a real handful.” He was a big boy, too, and he could generate a lot of noise and commotion. So it sounded to me like Michael did not know how to get what he needed in a positive or meaningful way- and that his teachers had become very frustrated. I was hoping music might be a constructive experience for them all.
I was invited to visit Michael’s school to lead an hour-long participatory musical Blues presentation for a mixed group of 25 special needs students, including this special young man. When I arrived in the room, I was happy to see it was a school lounge with informal living room furniture! I arranged couches and chairs in a roomy semi-circle, with a row of chairs behind them. This left space in the middle and back of the room for the students to be able to move around- an important part of the musical experience, especially for some of us who just do not like sitting still and others who learn best when in motion!
In short order, twenty-five high school students with a wide range of challenges arrived with their teachers, gradually finding seats or chose to stand in the back. The teachers had explained to the students they were going to attend a special concert, but they really did not know what to expect themselves so they had no idea how to prep their students for this musical experience. Everyone looked up at the front expectantly.
I am used to giving musical workshops and performances in the schools and can handle whatever comes up in the audience, but with special needs students, it was important for me to assess who was in the room as quickly as possible.
When Michael came into the room, he was very upset and started acting out. Not an easy start to our time! His teacher explained that this was because he couldn’t be up front and the center of attention. She took him into the back of the room and stood with him there. I felt instantly challenged to find a way to draw Michael into the activity and help him channel that big energy into something excellent.....
Happy July, Friends!
Thanks for your commitment to making education a more musical, creative and meaningful experience for children by training their remarkable teachers to lead the music making! This summer, because of you, we are able to increase the quality of faculty training we are able to provide. Come fall, GITC trainers will be putting this knowledge to work in their programs so teachers all over the country, like the wonderful Liane Preston (featured in this parent-shot video) can make a greater difference for their students. Success comes in many forms, and with your participation in Guitars in the Classroom, music making can be one of them.
Liane teaches in a school district that lost its music education budget for elementary education several years ago. Learning of GITC, she immediately grasped the concept of music for learning and started attending weekly classes with us. She put everything she learned to work with her students in all subject areas. Not only does Liane reach the children in her own second grade class with music, but all those who come to her for reading groups and English Language Learning instruction experience music integration with Liane many times each week! This one teacher alone brings participatory music into the lives of over eighty students from Monday to Friday! Can you imagine what your gift is making possible when $1,000 funds six weeks of training for twenty-four teachers? The cost of teacher training comes to under $3 per student per year!
This summer, please help us prepare for the coming fall by choosing a program model or region you wish to "adopt" and we will be so glad to allocate your gift to that place and those teachers. Whether you are interested in helping in the Gulf Coast states, on the East or West Coasts, in the Midwest or the Wild West, there are teachers hoping you are as excited as they are to be able to save the music and make school a truly positive place for every kind of learner. You can donate at globalgiving.com, then tell us about your goal for your contribution by writing to email@example.com.
Please know that we really appreciate your solidarity and charity! Thousands of children's lives are getting better because you are making it possible to reach and teach them with song-based lessons and the joy of singing and playing guitar. Thank you so much for this generosity!
Keep on the sunny side,
Dear Contributor to Guitars in the Classroom,
Thank you so much for making our free teacher training programs possible! This week, some exciting things happened for the GITC Global Giving campaign. GITC received employee gift card contributions from folks who work for companies that contribute to Global Giving, and we have been blessed with our first recurring contributor! Thanks to all of you and to the hard working staff at Global Giving for working hard to make this possible!
GITC is excited to welcome each of you donors who are choosing our organization on faith, having not yet been to a GITC teacher training class, observed a GITC classroom, or joined us for a GITC concert. We would love to invite you to have a personal experience with our organization! Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be included in something we are doing "on the ground" and we'll find a way to make it happen!
If you wish to share what has prompted you to support Guitars in the Classroom, we are super interested in hearing your personal story! Social change doesn't come in one mass movement, but is the collective effect of hundreds and thousands of deeply held and thoughtful personal decisions- made by each one of us, one heart at a time. What is important in your heart is what is making the difference in our schools. Please allow me to encourage you to share this with the GITC family.
We recently started adding a sponsor spotlight to our e-newsletters and next we will add a CONTRIBUTOR'S CORNER to celebrate you who are committing energy, resources, and focus to making music a part of learning for children in schools. Your personal decision can and will inspire others to reflect as well, and to choose to make a difference in some way, somewhere, at some time.
Here are a few quotes for you from teachers who have written in to thank GITC for teaching them to lead and integrate music. This is how your kindness is changing the lives of teachers and children everyday and improving the quality of education. Thank you so much.
If you wish to continue helping GITC throughout the school year, will you please consider becoming a recurring donor? A small amount given each month keeps GITC going come rain or shine, and assures that we can reach teachers and children in communities all around the country with the hope, help, excitement, and excellence that learning through music makes possible.
“In my kindergarten, I play guitar everyday to greet my students on the carpet before roll call. It’s like magic!”
“I have been a third grade teacher for ten years and have seen many music programs disappear due to budget constraints. I am so thrilled to bring music back into my classroom!”
“S., who speaks very quietly, was trying to share his song. The class couldn’t hear him and asked him to sing louder. With the rhythm of the song, he sang and spoke louder than ever before in front of his peers!”
“I explained that I was a student, too, and that I would be practicing what I learned in class with them so they had to be patient with me because I was learning just like them. I told them that they already knew the songs, so they had to help ME learn by singing very loudly! My only regret is not having learned to play sooner!”
“My kids said they would sing the Amigo song during STAR testing to help them remember synonyms and antonyms!”
“I now know it is ESSENTIAL to make music a natural part of children’s school day.”
I played “Get On Board” and the students really got into it! They were respectful and sang along. After playing the song, I told my students that I was new to playing music and that I hoped I did a decent job. One student, Cesar, said “What are you talking about Miss O.? You did a great job! You’re a rock star!” After that, all the students wanted my autograph and lined up to get one!” I walked away so inspired to keep practicing and learning more songs on the guitar for them!”
Wishing you a blessed week, a beautiful summer solstice, and a grand summer!
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