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.
Mar 3, 2014

Music for Preschools in Mississippi and Alabama!

Together we can make a difference!
Together we can make a difference!

Hello, Friend,I am so excited to tell you the latest news. Since you have been helping out GITC, we have been able to really move forward on our work with young children. The gift you gave was part of a massive push to get more music into early childhood and primary grade classrooms.

We recently got some help from a special friend, pianist and guitarist George Winston. He gave our efforts an added boost with a concert on February 12th in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. People came from all over the two states where we are serving to hear George and learn about GITC and the demand for more trainings skyrocketed in a night. More schools signed on, and now we want more than ever to be able to supply everyone with trainings and instruments.

Next week, classes begin for teachers and their children at Leona B. Warren HeadStart, in Mobile, Alabama!  And in another week, we start up at Taconi Head Start in Ocean Springs. We are working on getting something going in Hattiesburg, too.

And up in Worcester, Massachusetts the early childhood educators are rocking and playing slide guitar with trainer Jon Short, writing all kinds of songs for learning. In Lansing, Michigan, they are learning to play guitar and ukulele with trainer Ben Hassenger. In Victorville, they are studying with Marion Davison. And the beat goes on and on.

Thank you for helping us make an enormous difference for children during their most impressionable years when music can help them learn everything with greater ease and joy and set them on a positive path in school. Your love is making up for what so many public schools cannot afford to provide, and would not be able to implement on their own. Innovation takes advocates and you are right here with us, trumpeting the cause of music for learning every day.

With gratitude in my heart for your kindness and solidarity,


preschool music in MS Head Start
preschool music in MS Head Start


Dec 30, 2013

Thank You for Turning Math into Music!

Patty Bertram and Third Graders Do Math
Patty Bertram and Third Graders Do Math

Dear Friend of Learning and Making Music,

Thank you so very much for making our fall programs successful! It was YOUR generosity empowering our trainers to bring essential tools for leading lessons through song to children in every region of the country and in Ontario, Canada. Your faith in an innovative approach, your passion putting energy into the arts, your decision to emphasize creativity in the classroom... your values are creating social change by changing the way teachers engage students.

This fall, many young students were shown how to turn complex mathematical operations into fun and easy-to-remember steps when their teachers coached them to apply math concepts to writing song lyrics.The students worked as a class and in small groups to pour their math problems into song lyrics

Imagine being a first grader trying to tell time and getting stuck on the "afters" and "befores". Or a second grader attempting to substract 2 digit numbers for the first time. Put yourself back in third grade, memorizing mutliplication tables and trying to solve for equivalent fractions.Just as you are tiring of trying, your teacher pulls out a guitar and says, let's see what we can do to help ourselves learn this lesson to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey." Now THAT is funny. Especially since children already know "On Top of Spaghetti."

Maybe you were a fourth grader who had trouble lining up columns and carrying over, then bringing down the remainder during long division. Enough wrong answers in a stern and unforgiving classroom of right/wrong answers and almighty test scores and any child can become math-phobic. Relieving anxiety around learning and increasing joy are just 2 reasons why we need more music making in math classes. Making music gets kids breathing and it lowers their anxiety level (which teachers call the "affective filter").

Writing math lyrics for learning embeds equations, operations and outcomes in melody and rhythm so the students remember them by remembering the song.

Here specifically is how, thanks to you, GITC has been making math easier to learn this fall.

Remember the old song, "You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole" ? This is one of the "starter songs" we help teachers learn to play, sing and lead because it is catchy, fun, simple to play and in the public domain. The teachers this song in their GITC training class, then they can listen to it online, download the free song chart and be ready to share it in class right away. Once the students have learned the song, it's time to write new lyrics for learning.

Here is a fun old video of Ref Foley and his band performing the song:

Now, below, are some lyrics written by the students in a third grade class at Sandburg Elementary, in San Diego. Teacher Patty Bertram wrote this with the students and it was their very first classroom GITC composition. Her idea to have each student add his or her name at the end of each line. This had the magic effect of instilling pride in the children as they sung their own invented equivalent fraction lines.

The impact was phenomenal. Not only did the song reinforce the process of simplification, it helped students memorize certain fractions and practice doing the essential math without doing a boring worksheet or undergoing the old "drill and kill" routine that makes kids turn off to learning.

Patty's students had a wonderful time singing together- and they also did brilliantly on their math test. In fact, thanks to making music, her class finished their math curriculum one chapter ahead of the other 3rd grades that did not integrate music last year. You can hear her talk about it on our video, linked to this report.

Here is her song. You can play with with the G, G7, C and D7 chords if you like. The chart is at our website.

                                      Simplifying Fractions

                         (to the tune of "You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole"

Chorus:   Simplifying fractions is our game, simplifying  fractions is our game,                                                    

              We di-vide the  top and bottom by one number, then we’ve got ‘em!

              Simplify a fraction & say your name! (Teacher points to student and she says her name)

              ‘Cuz simplifying fractions is our game!  (Teacher points to student & he says his name)

1.      Divide by two! (spoken)

         Two over four equals one over two, I’m Madi!

          Two over four equals one over two, I’m Sam!

          Two over four equals one over two!

          Two fourths equals one half, it’s true!

          I can simpli-fy and so can you! 


2. Divide by five! (spoken)

     Five out of ten equals one out of two, I’m Jane!

     Five out of ten equals one out of two

     Five tenths equals one half, it’s true

     I can simplify and so can you!

So... how much exactly have you helped children? Your gifts have empowered us to train over 200 new teachers since July to teach math through music.

You have made it possible for us to donate or loan instruments to teachers and students in 130 schools.

You have given 19,000 students a way to learn things this fall that are hard to understand by other means.

And you have made it possible for me to explain the value of music in learning to people who had never considered it possible.

Thank you for standing by GITC and me. Thanks for giving. Please stay with us in 2014 while we endeavor to raise funds for staffing and for impirical research on the academic impact of integrated music which continuing to provide the free trainings that return creativity to classrooms previously stiffled by overtesting. The time for making education better is now - and you are already involved!

We wish you a happy New Year filled with love, abundance, friendship, health and inspiration,


Girls Compose Math Lyrics
Girls Compose Math Lyrics


Dec 24, 2013

Happier Holidays with Music in Their Lives!

Hampton Virginia GITC
Hampton Virginia GITC

Dear Supporter,

This is a quick note of thanks to let you know how your donations to this project are making the holidays a happier time for children around the United States and Canada this year. Because you gave us the energy and funds to keep going, GITC has been able to:

  • Train and support 225 pK- 8 teachers to learn to lead music in their classrooms this fall!
  • Donate or loan instruments to programs in 86 schools from California to Boston, from Michigan to Ontario.
  • Bring songs and songwriting for learning to the hearts and minds of 19,000 students each day
  • Continue to restore Bluegrass musical traditions in the schools in Clay County, West Virgina
  • Make hands-on guitar and ukulele training possible for children and adults with extreme disabilities through
  • Give high school students wishing to perform community service through music a way to assist younger children by participating in our work.

What is in store for 2014 through this project?

For starters, in Head Start programs in Massachusetts, our trainer Jon Short will begin teaching music leadership to early childhood educators in January. In elementary schools in Burlington, Vermont, trainer Rik Palieri will continue the training he started last year, expanding his efforts to nearby communities as well. In Oakland and Berkeley, California , two new GITC trainers will reach out to K-8 educators new to this approach through the public schools. And this is just the beginning- so many more programs are on the horizon in February. We also have an exciting plan moving forward that involves more community concerts that bring the children and teachers together with community members to make music in public spaces, giving music a presence in the daily life of people outside the school walls. We just led the first public GITC community jam in San Diego 2 weeks ago and facilitated two holiday sing alongs at the public library in Encinitas, CA. Folks really came out to be a part of these events with the children. 

Guitars in the Classroom wants to wish you very happy holidays and the most joyous of New Years.

On behalf of the teachers and students in Hampton, Virginia, in Oxnard and Vista, California and all across the nation wherever there is a GITC program thanks to you, we hope your kindness comes back to you multiplied many times over. The love you give is making life better for thousands of children whose chances for success in school are improving because you choose care. Thank you for your blessings.

Please stay with us, be a part of this musical connection and help more children and people of every age find their voices, passion and inspiration together through sharing the power of song!

Let there be peace,


Oxnard, CA GITC
Oxnard, CA GITC
Vista, California GITC~
Vista, California GITC~
Bus Driving GITC in Clay WV!
Bus Driving GITC in Clay WV!



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