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.
Feb 19, 2016

Music for Transitional Kindergarten in L.A.!

Transitional Kindergarten Teachers in LAUSD
Transitional Kindergarten Teachers in LAUSD

Hey, there, Supporters!

Thank you so much for being the wind beneath our wings in Los Angeles schools last month! As you might remember, we were able to begin training teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)—the second largest school district in the country—last year with your help. We started with the music educators, training them on ukulele and songwriting- and many are now including ukuleles in their regular K-5 music classes.

Why did we start there? Because we were fortunate enough to be asked to do this by music educator Ellie Wong and the amazing folks who run arts education for the district, Christopher Rodriguez, Steven McCarthy and Rory Pullens. They were specifically interested in helping get more music integrated into the general classrooms and in helping music teachers make vital connections to English Language Arts. That is the best possible thing for students.

It has now happened and in a remarkable way. The top banana in music, Christopher Rodriguez was talking one day to his colleague in charge of English Language Learning for Early Childhood Education in the district, Ms. Lourdes "Leti" Puyol and she explained that she wanted to find a way to train her huge faculty to help transitional kinder (TK) students in the district (thousands of them) to read with music. Her hope was to create a really fun inroad to literacy for them- something that would let them be little kids.She wanted to preserve the spirit of play in their young lives as opposed to expecting them to behave like older students.

Chris jumped on the opportunity to bring GITC into the English Language Arts (ELA) department with Leti and we were off and running. Leti understands that four year olds are not six year olds. They need freedom to invent, to move about, change focus frequently, dress up, make a mess, make things with their hands. They are not first graders who can sit in a desk and hold a pencil. Singing and strumming ukuleles is just perfect for them. Especially when we pair it up with learning letters, sounds and little words.

Together, we were able to build a 3 hour workshop for 25-30 teachers at a time to prepare them to infuse their lessons with music in order to boost imagination, learning, language skills and memory while making school a place where their young students want to be each day.

So just last month, we trained 110 transitional Kindergarten teachers from 90 different schools in LAUSD to incorporate music into their literacy lessons. Yes- 110. Thanks to you and our sponsors, Guitar Center and Kala Brand Music, every teacher in each of four workshops received his or her own ukulele and educational materials, too. These teachers are already helping young children develop phonemic awareness and spoken language skills in an engaging and playful manner.

Things just keep getting better. Now our newest faculty trainer, Billy Coane, himself a certificated music teacher for LAUSD, has just begun the next step in Los Angeles; it's a weekly class for Tk-5 regular classroom teachers- no musical experience necessary- to help them learn to play uke, simplified guitar, sing, and lead students in songs for learning up the grades. We have a great big class just starting and the principal, Christopher Clarke is a guitar player. He tuned all the ukuleles himself. You just can't beat this kind of administrative enthusiasm.

Doesn't this just make you smile? You did it.

Thank you so much to each of you for helping out in this amazing work bringing real music back to childhood and the power of song to learning everythihng. Please stay with us, visit the facebook page, drop a line or if you have some time, please volunteer with us. And give when you can. There are far more students out there who need GITC. We have our work cut out for us and thankfully, we're all in this together.

Back with more good news for you soon, you are appreciated,

Jess

Transitional Kinder Teachers in LAUSD
Transitional Kinder Teachers in LAUSD
LAUSD
LAUSD's Katie McGrath and Leti Puyol with Jess

Links:

Jan 12, 2016

Thanks for Supporting Homeless Students!

Lifting Children Up Through Music
Lifting Children Up Through Music

Dear riend,

Thank you very much for empowering Guitars in the Classroom to serve homeless children this coming year! Because of your heart for these deserving children, we are starting the outreach to their teachers with a special opportunity to apply for more training geared specifically to meeting their needs and offering to provide instruments for the students to play together. Then, beginning February 1, 2016 once the donations have been disbursed by GlobalGiving.org to GITC, we can begin to ship instruments to their classrooms! In the meantime, we are putting together a special songbook with video and recording references that teachers can download for free.

This special songbook will be a first for GITC. We will fill it with simple, singable music that nurtures in children a sense of belonging, freedom to express their feelings, greater awareness of the needs of all people for safety, shelter, food and friendship, and songs that help children ask for what they need including safety, respect, dignity, care and inclusion. We will also include some "song forms" that encourage classes to fill-in-the-blanks with lyrics that reflect their personal experiences and aspirations.

The campaign you participated in successfully raised $3,630! We will be able to provide 200 ukuleles for children along with the songbooks. Since most classrooms have 5 ukuleles and share them in our strumming stations, this means your contribution combined with others will put hands-on music into 40 classrooms this winter and spring! Isn't that amazing? From Brooklyn, NY to Oakland, CA, we intend to make your charity felt.

We look forward to filling you in as the project develops so you can see the photos and hear the stories. Thanks for helping GITC launch a totally new effort that will give comfort, hope, friendship and life skills to our most vulnerable children in 2016. Back with you again, soon.

With love and gratitude,

Jess Baron

Founder, Executive Director

Links:

Nov 24, 2015

GITC Fall Report: Teaching through the Power of Song

Tuesday at San Miguel Elementary
Tuesday at San Miguel Elementary

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends,

All of us working and volunteering with Guitars in the Classroom want to thank you for your solidarity, charity, engagement and concern for the workd. Thanks for taking action and creating change. Your efforts with Guitars in the Classroom have been empowering us to bring more musical opportunities to children and youth around the nation. Together we are improving the quality of learning, improving student participation and giving our children and youth the keys to creativity!

Here is a quick peek at the latest developments your giving is making possible. This fall we have been launching new classes from Burlington, Vermont, Brooklyn, NY and Worcester, Massachusetts clear across the country to Longmont, Colorado and Lemon Grove, California. Teachers at every grade level and with every specialization are bringing music into their classrooms! More teachers are giving students hands-on opportunities to strum ukuleles and guitars while the classrooms sings their songs for learning than ever before- and best of all, teachers who started training with us a year or more ago are continuing! For teachers who have never played before (73%), sticking with the learning process takes time, dedication and passion but the pay-off is so important.

It's particularly exciting that more teachers in high poverty schools, rural schools and more special educators have been joining the ranks of GITC. In San Diego alone, 20% of our teachers in training are working with special needs groups including children who have moderate to severe disabilities, autism, physical handicaps and who have suffered trauma. Music knows no boundaries. It touches and unites every heart. Giving teachers the training, tools, materials and encouragement to lead and adapt music for total inclusion is what we are committed to doing in the new year.

Our work is in hundreds of schools around the country, but let's take a minute to focus on one: Dewey Elementary. Dewey's GITC program is growing this fall! Dewey serves approximately 65% military dependents whose parents rank is E6 and below.  73% of their families qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch . Their students move an average of every 2.9 years and 13% of their students receive special education due to us being so close to Balboa Naval Hospital. Children with profound medical challenges whose parents serve in the military are likely to go to school at Dewey. Just last week thanks to you, we were able to deliver new sets of ukuleles to all the participating GITC faculty members so every child in their classrooms can strum and sing to learn, weekly! Teachers Kim Smith, Katie Stoesz, Melanie Billingsley and Jerry Savin are leading the way and we are looking forward to bringing 5 more Dewey teachers into the program this winter.

And now we have added a new program working with San Diego County's Juvenille Court Schools for teen students who have been incarcerated or expelled from regular schools. With your support, these young people are discovering that they have music inside them- and the patience and passion needed to learn to play guitar. Despite facing unimaginable hardship, cruelty and trauma, we are seeing these students find their smiles, their voices and their dreams. Music given with love and faith has that power. We recently welcomed guitar educator and rocker James Clarkston to our faculty to work directly with these teens and their teachers. The GITC music repertoire is quickly expanding! We'll be looking for more very capable faculty members to join this effort in 2016 thanks to a grant that just arrived from Cox Communication's Cox Care Foundation!

There's so much more to tell but you've got things to do. So please stay tuned in with us on facebook to see the daily good news from the schools that your generosity makes possible! With guitar sponsors, Godin Guitars, Martin Guitars, LAG Guitars (Korg USA) and Oriolo Guitars, Saga Musical Instruments, Goldfish Guitars and Kala Brand Music continuing to place instruments in our hands for the teachers and students, we all have much to be thankful for. Please stay with us during your end-of-year giving. With your participation, we can make this an outstanding 2016 for kids in need around the country.

We sincerely want to thank the great folks at GlobalGiving.org for their service, diligence and good will and for keeping everyone's onling giving experience so safe and enjoyable.

May your table be blessed with the warmth of friendship, an abundance of nourishment and the peace that doing one's best for others always inspires.

Blessings,

Jess

Ruth Haller in her K at Webster Elementary
Ruth Haller in her K at Webster Elementary
Kim Smith receives ukuleles at Dewey Elementary
Kim Smith receives ukuleles at Dewey Elementary
His first moment being trusted with a ukulele!
His first moment being trusted with a ukulele!
When friends learn to strum & sing...
When friends learn to strum & sing...
When songs & movement help us learn and grow!
When songs & movement help us learn and grow!

Links:

 
   

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