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 23, 2014

Thank You for Bringing Music to Special Students!

Even with CP, Stevie can play!
Even with CP, Stevie can play!

This fall, thanks to you, there are many students who have special needs including autism, downs syndrome, emotional disturbance, post traumatic stress disorder and a host of social/emotional issues who are learning in school through music! Your gift has helped children we refrain from naming out of respect for their privacy to develop a way to join their same-aged peers in learning in regular classrooms during integrated music for the first time! We have also trained teachers working with isolated groups of children in special education to use singing and ukulele strumming to engage, calm, redirect and connect their students into appropriate social conduct and participation in lessons.

"Juan" has discovered he can do second grade level math because counting the number of beats in music in groups of four has helped him learn to add. If he stamps, claps and counts beats out loud, he succeeds. He has gone from sitting still, staring at his empty white board to filling it with an accurate number line! For a child who is reading at a kindergarten level in second grade, this rhythm and song combination has made a breakthrough that his teacher can now transfer over to learning English with physical movement, sign language and dance. He loves to strum a ukulele; too.

"Jenny" has stopped distracting and verbally assaulting other children with impulsive outbursts during English Language Arts instruction because she loves the sound of singing. Rather than being sent out of the room, to the principal or school counselor, she is learning to control her impulses so she can sing! Her teacher is using "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to teach students to write and sing their own story songs with beginnings, middles and endings. Jenny contributes like everyone else now. She would do anything to be allowed to stay, even own and apologize to other children for her aggressive behavior which is truly much better now.

"Tyrone" began this year in a real depression, unable to lift his head off his desk. He has moved 7 times in 3 years, constantly missing school and relocating because of "family problems." He has a severe learning disability profile including dyslexia. But when given a chance to participate in songwriting about people his classmates admire, he was able to engage and contribute facts about Michael Jordan, someone he really looks up to. Songwriting is not visual, it's oral/verbal and children hear their own ideas validated and sung back to them by their classmates. Tyrone is doing a lot better now.

The stories go on and on... so please know it is very important that you gave to this project and have helped teachers begin to change the way they are reaching and successfully engaging their students in positive learning! We cannot do this work without you and we encourage you to stay with us in the new year ahead!

Teachers in San Diego include Special Educators!
Teachers in San Diego include Special Educators!


Oct 13, 2014

Thank You for Helping Us Reach the Children

Fernando Pullum Center Students October 2014
Fernando Pullum Center Students October 2014

Dear Friends,

These are important weeks for students as they are adjusting to school and beginning to develop new relationships and good work habits in their new classrooms. Teachers are so grateful for the help, tools and inspiration you are enabling us to provide for them and the children through GITC's free musical training and instrument donation program. So many classrooms are overcrowded right now. Teachers find themselves handling a huge number of children with high needs. Bringing music into classrooms in transition can shift the whole school day. The right song calms anxieties, brings children together, creates focus and good listening, and eases students into learning with joy. Add songwriting for learning lessons and you have a happy classroom despite the challenges! Thank you for helping us to make this possible. We need you now more than ever as demands for our services are rolling in every single day.

Did you know that each teacher who trains with us receives a ukulele to keep and a guitar to borrow long term at no charge? They also receive over $100 worth of musical supplies to help them lead songs for learning in their classrooms. None of this would be possible without YOU and our sponsors. This is true community participation and change in action!

Your gift to Guitars in the Classroom gives us the resources we need to track down the precious instruments and supplies, get them shipped to schools, sometimes all the way across the country, and to staff our free programs. That is some pretty heavy lifting. You and our on-the-ground volunteers are moving mountains of musical instruments. Anthony Tinelli, Ariel Solana, Francesca Ashcroft and Sydney Baroy are here handling the boxes, the tuning, the inventorying and delivery of guitars and ukes every week. You can see Anthony and Ariel in a photo with this report.

You help us with everything- from covering crucial, nitty gritty expenses such as paper, toner and stamps to the necessary program insurance required by school districts, and above all else, wages to pay the people who train the teachers, our extraordinary faculty members.These folks are the kindest, most grounded yet creative people you would ever want to meet. They think of teachers as great lights who spark each young mind, heart and spirit entrusted to their care everyday. They make passing the musical skills and traditions on to these teachers their personal missions. They place the instruments in their hands, visit their classrooms, send them songs for teaching everything imaginable, go to their school concerts, write them notes when they get sick. Our trainers are really present and connected and we are so grateful they stay with us over the years.

While a handful of GITC trainers choose to volunteer their services, almost everyone is paid... not just a barely passable teaching wage but one they can feel good about. This is so important. Music teachers in schools are chronically underpaid if they have jobs at all anymore. With years of training and experience, many choose to work for fewer dollars than others and to settle for part time work as the result of budget cuts. They would rather do this than change jobs because they see how their ability to bring the music into children's lives is shaping them as human beings and helping them thrive in school. Many other nonprofits even ask their music specialists to volunteer their time. But we know they have mouths to feed, too. You are helping these very deserving people keep going through their roles in our organization.

This fall, we are providing free training and instruments to Title I (low income) schools, teachers and students in Vermont, Michigan, Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Illinois and California, thanks to you.This includes our work at Burbank Elementary School in Logan Heights, San Diego, a school designated this fall as a Turnaround Arts school by the President's Committee for Arts and Humanities. Bringing music to this school  whose population faces staggering challenges to survival and whose students need a great deal of help learning to read is our honor this fall and for the next three years. We ask you to join us to continue this important effort by donating to GITC next Wednesday on Bonus Matching Day!

We want to express immense gratitude to sponsor Don Oriolo and his Felix the Guitars and to the team at SAGA Musical Instruments and Rick Carlson KALA Brand Music Company for working closely with us to make sure every teacher has instruments for his or her classroom!  We thank Art Harvey and Onboard Research for helping us provide tuners for the instruments to our fledgling music leaders, Peter D'Addario of D'Addario Strings for making sure everyone can strum, Jasmin Powell at Dunlop Manufacturing for providing picks that spare fingers and capos that bring songs up to the keys best for children's sweet voices, and Janet and Robert Godin of Godin Guitars for always helping with beautiful guitars, guidance and ingenuity! (They also send us special "lefty" guitars for all our southpaw teachers!) The attached photos show you just how much these companies are essential members of the GITC village that is raising 20,000 musical children this fall!

Please enjoy the photos from our programs this fall, know how much I appreciate what you have done to make great things to make them possible.... and please, please, please mark your calendars for this coming Wednesday when your gifts can go farther and make a vital difference in the lives of so many children.

Thank you for caring and joining us on behalf of the children and the future of music,


Genevieve Hammond and her Felix the Cat Guitar in
Genevieve Hammond and her Felix the Cat Guitar in
Preschool & Head Start Teachers in San Diego Unifi
Preschool & Head Start Teachers in San Diego Unifi
GITC in Santee, CA
GITC in Santee, CA
Anthony and Ariel Rock the Guitar Inventory
Anthony and Ariel Rock the Guitar Inventory


Jul 11, 2014

A Summer of Musical Infusion for Refugee and Immigrant Children

The Gals
The Gals

Dear Friends,

We cannot thank you enough for the support you have been giving our efforts over the past year. Already this summer our project, Infuse Learning with Music in Pre-K -8 Classrooms has increased its focus on social and emotional learning with heartfelt, dynamic songwriting and singing from teachers in grades K-5 who are serving children in transition. Come August, they will meet their new students and share the power and joy or music deep and wide.

Many of the teachers are working with displaced refugee children from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, newcomer students from Mexico and Guatelmala, and children from India, Viet Nam and many other parts of Asia. Some of thses newcomers have faced grave danger getting to the US.

The experience of the child who is new to the United States and doesn't understand English is often a confusing and frightening one. There is untold uncertainty, financial instability and pressure to try to fit in with American students. Singing songs of friendship, kindness and care can help. The teachers learn to facilitate student songwriting that shares vital information.

Just today, teachers Dan Decker, T. Ford, Patrice Maller, Dan Cooperman, Teresa Acoba, Angela Giglitto, Molly Stewart, Shannon Plapp, Jasmine Greene, Katrina Stansfield, Candy Szalay, Karissa Neilson, Kim Sowvlen, Danielle Adams, Summer Locke, Marcy Bollens, Shelley Honig and Sue Bruner worked together during class (on the 4th day of their so-called summer vacation) to collaborate on this song that helps these children understand how friends can help and take care of one another. I thought you'd like to read it and see who these dedicated teachers are. I am honored that they are donating their time and effort to acquire a new skill on the much-needed summer break.

                                                        Friendship’s a Circle of Love

                                              To the tune of “Buffalo Gals” ©2014 by GITC Teachers

Chorus:         If you want to have a friend then be a friend, be a friend! Be a friend!
                    If you want to have a friend then be a friend ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love                  

A friend is a person who helps with a smile, helps with a smile, helps with a smile
A friend is a person who helps with a smile‘cause friendship’s a circle of love

My friend accepts me as I am, as I am, as I am
My friend accepts me as I am
‘cause friendship’s a circle of love                                                                                                                

Friends keep secrets, they don’t give them away, don’t give them away, don’t give them away.
Friends keep secrets, they don’t give them away ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love                                                                                                                                      
Friends don’t tease or laugh at me when I fall down and skin my knee
They pickme up and comfort me ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love                                            

A friend can share a gummy bear, gummy bear, gummy bear
A friendcan share a gummy bear when the teacher is not looking
A friend calls up and checks on me, checks on me, and checks on me
A friendcalls up and checks on me ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love

A friend is someone who talks to me, works with me, plays with me
A friend is someone who laughs with me ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love.

A friend is someone who’s always there, when I need something they will share
I‘m so glad that you are there ‘cause friendship’s a circle of love!          
Yes friendship’s a circle of love!

For a child who hasn't got a friend and whose home life is painful, this song will create new understanding, hope and a sense of possibility.

Thank you so much for all you do to make the work of Guitars in the Classroom possible. This summer, your gifts are helping us serve in meaningful new ways and we hope you feel proud. We are so grateful for your support and compassion. Please keep up your assistance by joining us THIS WEDNESDAY on July 16th for Global Giving's Bonus Matching Day!

Together we truly ARE making a difference.

In solidarity with you for children, hope, music and education,


Teachers at NTC Training
Teachers at NTC Training
Collectively Have Served Over 80 Years in Schools
Collectively Have Served Over 80 Years in Schools



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