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.
Aug 15, 2016

Looking Back, Looking Forward with You!

Children lead songs for their families in June!
Children lead songs for their families in June!

Hello Musical Friend,

Thank you so much for your support of our work with Guitars in the Classroom. You’ve made the 2015-16 school year and summer one of great empowerment and change for teachers and students. Your support has fueled hope and given new abilities to hundreds of teachers. We are excited to look back and also look forward with you into the new school year.

More Teachers Trained than Ever Before

The impact of your contribution has made it possible to train almost 700 teachers in Southern California alone, quadrupling our reach to include hundreds of early childhood educators. You sustained us to keep the music alive in towns and communities of every kind and size- from remote Jasper County, South Carolina to the heart of Brooklyn, NY, from the flooded river banks of West Virginia to the public schools just outside of remote Yosemite.

New Receptivity to Integrating Music

We are seeing new schools and school districts of all kinds overcoming confusion about what it means to integrate the arts with academic instruction. Thanks to advocacy on the national scene, education leaders are getting actively involved in promoting music as a learning strategy. This means we must work harder than ever to maximize on this new openness and bring the programs to those who care.

Thanks to you, in eastern and southeastern states, GITC doubled its programs last school year as more and more teachers sought the chance to learn and teach through the power of music. Without charitable support it couldn’t have happened.

In many GITC communities, education is badly underfunded and teachers are so poorly paid they can barely afford to stay in their jobs. But your kindness has made it so we can help out. Just last month we were able to give ukuleles and instruction to students in a school for homeless youth and a child development center so poor they depend on selling churros to pay for supplies. You are creating "miracles" with every dollar you give.

Thanks to you, every week we hear from a grateful teacher who says, “This changed my life and my teaching!”

Now as we move into a new school year, we will be focusing our efforts to grow more programs throughout the country and to coordinate them better from our main office in San Diego. The key is to keep existing programs strong while opening new ones! To do this, we need help funding staff and infrastructure. Programs are only as strong as the foundation that supports them to function.

Special Education Inclusion

Because many of you gave to our microproject for providing music making in special education, this spring and summer GITC was able to initiate a pilot program for classroom teachers in Clay and Kanawah counties, West Virginia, San Diego county, California, and Los Angeles Unified Schools! Working with The Beamz, an engaging technological instrument, the teachers are receiving specialized training in setting up, operating and integrating the Beamz with all areas of academic study as well as social/emotional development! The Beamz gives children with limited dexterity, motor coordination and with cognitive impairment a way to make music using whatever mobility they can manage including eye movements ! You can learn more by watching the video.

New- GITC Teaching Artists

Something new that you can look forward to in the fall – GITC is expanding the role of teaching artists in Title 1 classrooms. Visiting GITC teaching artists will be partnering with classroom teachers to help them gain confidence and mastery of weaving the music into literacy and math lessons where it can strengthen comprehension and abilities. For teachers new to music, this makes a tremendous difference.

Courage to Play Campaign

If you can imagine the prospect of becoming a strumming song leader for learning for a classroom full of children, you know it takes courage to play. So we are starting a support campaign for teachers called #CourageToPlay throughout the 2016-17 school year. Please look for that at our facebook page this fall!

Music for Learning Serves Juvenile Offenders

Finally, after a year of exploring the role of music with teens in crisis, we are expanding our work in juvenile court schools to bring the hope, passion, discipline and potential of music to teens in transition between incarceration and education. We are providing guitar classes in alternative county juvenile court schools helping these at risk youth while they work to earn their GEDs. This effort has our teen specialists constantly improvising and creating new curriculum to respond to their students.

More Instruments Needed!

Can you please help? As always, we are asked to help provide more instruments for schools than we can afford. But donors helped us award 1300 instruments to school programs last year alone! Your generosity is essential to the success of this effort. You can make a difference here. At subsidized prices from our sponsors, just $25 buys a ukulele. $60 buys a guitar. Every gift you give makes real music making possible.

Thank you for choosing to change the world through your support of Guitars in the Classroom!

With you for the children,

Jess Baron


Jul 5, 2016

Thank you for including special needs students!

Students explore ukulele as part of learning
Students explore ukulele as part of learning

Hello, Friend,

Thank you so much for your recent support of this endeavor to fund musical inclusion for students with special needs. The support for this effort shows what a large need there is and how the issue has touched so many of our lives. Who among us is not related to a child or teen facing some sort of major school-related challenge? For this reason, we are going to launch a new microproject to address the same issue in a new way so please stay tuned to Guitars in the Classroom on to keep this effort alive and expanding. Our next focus will be specifically geared for students on the autism spectrum.

I am excited to tell you a part of what your charity has already made possible. We are looking forward to accomplishing a lot more in the month ahead.

Just last week in one of our year around sites, Fay Elementary in City Heights, the two dedicated special education teachers Tony Nguyen and Val Simons got BEAMZ devices working with their students in their special education classrooms. These are rooms where some students are so severely challenged that the teachers have to be hyper vigilant at all time for safety. When kids are severaly brain impaired or are dealing with serious chemical imbalances, every student can be subject to their spontaneous episodes and violent behaviors. But as William Congreve said in eighteenth century, "Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast," and so it is true.

At Fay Elementary, thanks to a phenomenal faculty and administration and the generosity of the GITC community, we are well on our way to moving music outward not only into separate special ed classrooms but into "inclusion" classrooms as well. Now there are 6 BEAMZ devices at Fay and the early success reports are rolling in. Where previously we had started with singing, guitar and ukulele, there are now new ways for students to affect and control the individual instrumental sounds in one of thousands of pre-programmed songs. Check out the photos!

Tony has shared that his students LOVE the ukes and playing with the BEAMZ. They feel "like real DJs." Val sent us 2 videos that we are hoping to share at our facebook page soon. Her students' responses to this first musical exploration are incredibly joyful! She is getting started using the musical system to help students learn everything from self regulation to lesson content.

Thanks so much for your caring, for giving, and for staying connected to our work. You can touch base anytime on facebook and we'd love to see you there, or write to us directly. Your input and engagement are always encouraged.

Sending most grateful regards, Happy Fourth of July!


The sounds are soothing!
The sounds are soothing!
What sounds can my hands change?
What sounds can my hands change?
I'm a DJ!


May 18, 2016

What We've Accomplished Together This Year

GITC in Clay, WV
GITC in Clay, WV

Dear Music Lover and GITC Program Supporter,

Thank you for giving Guitars in the Classroom your encouragement and support over the past school year to make musical learning a reality for children in need! We've done so much together!

Now as teachers prepare for the final weeks of school, making music has become a sort of survival tool in the classrooms. Teachers who trained with us this year are employing songs to engage their students in lessons and in feeling good at a time of year that can feel burdensome with high stakes testing, report cards and conferences. Students who are prone to anxiety under these circumstances find their joy and their calm inside music. Teachers who use the strumming and singing to empower their students to focus, reinforce their knowledge and think positively before tests have happier and more successful classrooms. When everyone sings together, smiles increase and so do test scores. Many classrooms are even singing songs to reinforce their test preparation and test taking strategies.

But going to school shouldn't be about taking tests, right? The music you are helping us provide creates a much more humane learning environment, one rich in opportunities to become creatively expressive,

In the middle of all the year end tasks, kids are needing the chance to cut loose without going wild. Music gives them that. The strumming and singing, coupled with movement and rhythm provide much needed "brain breaks" when teachers pick up a guitar and play a fun song. Kids can get up out of their seats and dance to let off steam and de-stress. Then they feel ready to get back to business.

This month, students are also practicing songs they have learned to play and songs they have written together in their regular classrooms and music classes in preparation for end of year concerts and celebrations for learning. Excitement is in the air! For example, at San Miguel Elementary in Lemon Grove, CA, students from three grades as well as the guitar club are preparing to perform songs with ukuleles and guitars on May 25! Trainer Dan Decker and his big posse of strumming, songleading teachers are filling the halls of the school with music. We are looking forward to sharing some end of year photos and video with you in June from that special day.

This year, with your involvement, GITC has helped place thousands of ukuleles into preschools, elementary, middle and high schools and we have trained and equipped hundreds of teachers with guitars and ukuleles from California to South Carolina, coast to coast, and from National City, not far from the Mexican border, to Burlington, VT in the opposite corner of the country. Our free workshops for teachers have taken place in big cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and Brooklyn, mid-sized  communities like Worcester, Massachusetts and Longmont, Colorado, and in small, rural communities like Clay, West Virginia and Hardeeville in Jasper County, South Carolina. You have literally helped us bring music making to learning for children in need who come from very diverse families and communities. Thank you for your partnership in reviving music in the schools in these and many other places.

Please make a new contribution to this campaign if you can. We've almost reached out goal! Imagine the joy when we work together to wrap the 2016-17 school year up with a resounding success on Bonus Matching Day on June 15th!

As always, you can watch the ;latest videos from GITC and see what is happening in the schools when you visit our facebook page. Just last Saturday, several teachers joined me on KUSI television in San Diego to share about what music has meant this year to their students. You can watch the clip at

Right alongside children experiencing childhood in positive and less challenging ways, our military children, homeless children, and children in communities suffering from economic hardship are getting to express themselves, discover their creative abnilities and potential, and feel a sense of belonging all because you care.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have allowed me and GITC's compassionate faculty members to accomplish. Together, we are making a remarkable difference for kids.

With you for the children,


GITC in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools
GITC in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools
Dan Decker
Dan Decker
GITC in Biloxi, MS
GITC in Biloxi, MS



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