Jan 19, 2021

Shifting the Trajectory of Students' Lives

GITC Learning on Zoom
GITC Learning on Zoom

Shifting A Child’s Life Trajectory with Music

 

Dear Friends,

Every student in a GITC program has the opportunity to experience a shift their life trajectory by opening up to the power of music and the process of musical learning. 

Because of you, we are continuing to infuse learning with music in pre K - 8 classes as students and teachers return to online classrooms in the New Year. Your donations are helping us grow our capacity to serve more students in need and train teachers from all around the U.S. online. Since March 2020, with your support we have been able to provide 51 online GITC professional development courses, reaching over 390 educators and their students in response to their desire to learn to play simple guitar and ukulele, sing, and lead students in song, inspiring everyone. Your support is allowing us to continue the positive impact we are making for teachers and students. Thank you for helping to make this possible!  

With your help GITC is continuing to provide crucial support for teachers to overcome the many hurdles of distance learning through music. Teachers tell us music is the only thing that brings their kids into the virtual classroom with a smile. First grade teacher Ms. Duncan shared how she always starts the day with music in her classroom. “If they miss it, they’re disappointed! As a result, I have excellent attendance,” she laughs. “Both attendance and participation are higher because the music helps keep kids engaged. We pick our ukes up throughout our lessons each day to practice grammar, syntax, basic structure and punctuation. It translates so well into language arts and brings new vocabulary into their world through song. I never feel like I’m wasting my time as a teacher when I add music to my lessons.” All this is possible thanks to you.

Teacher trainings and classroom teaching artist residencies are already beginning for 2021. We have lost key grant support for this part of our services as a result of the pandemic, so every donation we receive helps to restore this aspect of GITC to Title I schools. When you donate, together, we can provide this opportunity for hundreds of deserving students to experience music, healing, connection, accelerated learning and unstoppable creativity. With your help we will continue to pour energy, inspiration, instruction and instruments into the lives of students, giving them a chance to change their life trajectory. 

We deeply appreciate your generosity and care for children. With your ongoing participation, we will continue to make a huge impact in 2021, together. We look forward to creating more opportunities for you to be able to improve children's ability to learn enthusiastically and to make music at school. We thank you for your blessings and gifts to do this work. 

We encourage you to visit our website at www.guitarsintheclassroom.org and click on the blog page to read more about Ms. Duncan and other dedicated classroom teachers who are making a difference with music in their online classes. 

 

With heartfelt appreciation,

 

Gail Wingfield

Programs Manager

Links:

Jan 8, 2021

Songwriting with Teachers - the Work Continues!

Teachers Learn Together
Teachers Learn Together

Dear Friend,

This little report is giving you an update on our latest efforts to engage teachers in writing new songs for self-care. The woes of pandemic fatigue are getting to so many of us at a time we are getting closer to solutions. When we let down our guard, more people get sick, and this seems to be happening regardless of the potential consequences.

Teachers are hyper-vigilant. They carry the weight of the students in their classrooms on their shoulders and are trying their best to stay healthy. But with so many people confused about safety or just getting tired of exercising caution, teachers are needing to take even more care than before not to get sick. For GITC, at this time, supporting teachers to sustain their determination and morale and maintain their energy is particularly important. How we get through these long months of waiting before the general population can be vaccinated depends on everyone's personal strength and resilience.

As an outgrowth of this project, and in the spirit of taking care of our education First Responders, our nonprofit offered a songwriting workshop during the winter break for teachers interested in learning to craft their own music and lyrics. In addition to teaching songwriting for academics, we also focused on writing short "self care" songs.

Each teacher was asked to center, focus, breathe deeply, and find the words they sometimes tell themselves to get through difficult moments. Each one took time to reflect, meditate and craft their own messages. In this way, each one was able to draw on her own wisdom and beliefs to find personal words of encouragement. The teachers then wrote their self-coaching phrases down privately and several also shared them in the chat stream of Zoom. 

Each personal self care message was so powerful that it bore repeating, and when spoken in rhythm, formed a rhythmic phrase that teachers shared out loud. For example, "Take a deep breath, then let it go, take a deep breath then let it go, take a deep breath then let it go, relax, relax" when recited over a steady pulse actually got the group doing exactly that. 

Next, the teachers learned to create a melody to their self-care phrases based on the inflection of the spoken words in their phrases. Each one shared her phrase out loud and we traced the rise and fall of the pitches of her voice as she recited her phrase. The higher her voice rose, the higher them melodic contour rose. The lower it fell, the lower the next portion of the melody unfolded.

Finally, following that melodic contour agains that steady pulsing beat, each teacher sang her own self-care song out loud. As the whole class engaged in this activity, we started to see light come back into each others eyes. Breathing became slower, deeper and easier. A connection was felt between the teachers and within each indiviudal with her own power to administer self care. 

Perfecting these songs was not important in the workshop because songs are living, growing creations that are not done until the songwriter's message is complete. So each teacher left with the beginning or the heart of a song to sing, to explore, to sing while strumming a guitar or ukulele or striking a drum, and to remember in a stressful moment. 

What teachers can take into their classrooms is this idea to share with students, especially on a diffiicult day. Today the country was beginning to recover from the shock of the attack on our nation's Capitol and the senators who were doing the business of the nation.  It is at exactly such a time that songs for help, hope, healing and comfort can be most important to students and their teachers, too.

Thank you for your support of this gentle yet important project. As we each and all endeavor to come through the stress of the pandemic, I am more than grateful for your contribution to keeping GITC's work alive.

Wishing you a healthy, inspiring and safe new year,

Jess

Links:

Jan 7, 2021

Youth at Promise Forge a New Pathway with Music

I am excited to bring you up to date with GITC programs for older students who are “at promise.”  Because of your support, the percentage of teachers from middle and high schools who are bringing music into their classrooms through GITC continues to grow. Across the country, students are struggling with hunger, housing insecurity, vulnerability to COVID-19, and the daily strain of racism and economic hardship. Classroom teachers who train with GITC are helping to bring hope, courage, strength and resilience to these students. With your help these students are able to forge a new, positive pathway as they reach for their dreams and fulfill their true potential.

Thanks to you, students at continuation high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District are able to participate in GITC programs, currently offered online because of the pandemic, where they are introduced to artists who have moved the needle of social justice forward.  They are learning about various artists and their personal stories of social activism and overcoming adversity. Through learning to play the guitar and singing those artists’ songs, the students are learning to express themselves and communicate with their teachers and peers in a more meaningful way. 

These students are benefiting profoundly from receiving this musical access. WIth your help they are now able to see their life experience in a new, more constructive context. Making music with their teachers and peers is increasing attendance in their virtual classrooms as well as engagement, positivity, self expression and self esteem. 

Thank you for your ongoing support for this work!

Wishing you health, peace and inspiration to keep making our world better in 2021,

Gail

 
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