Infuse Learning with Music in Pre-K-8 Classrooms!

by Guitars in the Classroom
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


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


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,


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


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 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.



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!


Teachers Move Up a Level in Training in San Diego!
Teachers Move Up a Level in Training in San Diego!

Dear Supporter,

The summer has flown by very quickly and we have such nice news to share! As you prepare for the autumn ahead, thanks for taking a couple minutes to look back at what GITC has been up to with your help. We are grateful you stay tuned in with our organization.

This summer, Pk-12 teachers have been singing, strumming and songwriting new lyrics for learning in  intensive GITC classes! Over 100 teachers have come through week-long trainings with a handful of GITC faculty members.
These week-long experiences give teachers a chance to focus on music without the distractions of the school year and the benefits are enormous. They advance a full level in a week, write new material for their upcoming classes, grow as music leaders, role models and academic songwriters and make supportive friendships that last over the years.
Teachers have taken intensive week-long classes in San Diego, Santa Barbara and Mariposa County, California, coming from communities and schools from all over these regions.
We are extremely grateful to each of you who has helped us train teachers this summer and made sure we could put instruments into their capable hands. Thank you!
New for us this summer was infusing guitar lessons into summer (year round) education for teens who have run into trouble with the schools and the law guitar to the high school students at Bayside School in San Diego. Their school is part of the San Diego Juvenile Court Schools, and the students are on probation, have been expelled from other high schools, or have other individual needs that can be better met through this program . GITC trainer Dan Decker (Teacher of the Year for his district, Lemon Grove) wrote a blog about the experience that you can read at our website. 

And just last month, we were honored by top inclusion in this online article from Musician's Frirend's "The Hub" about music related not-for-profits Eight Nonprofits Changing the World with Music .
The summer months have seen some magnificent artist advocacy happening through concerts, live events and social media from our superstars. This is very important to the future of GITC because artists inspire community members to get involved at the local level.
Cody Lovaas finished up five school concerts just before school ended for the summer including one at our Title I for the Arts pilot school, Normal Heights Elementary and one at our Turnaround Arts school, Luther Burbank Elementary. And Brent Paschke (guitarist for Pharrell Williams) along with GRAMMY award winning fingerstyle master Laurence Juber (formerly of Wings) helped GITC founder Jess Baron co-teach an all-day workshop for K-5 music educators in Los Angeles Unified School District. Then in July, Jefferson Starship, Starship and acoustic jazz wizard Craig Chaquico got busy educating fans about GITC on radio, television and stage... and gave a great concert, during which GITC conducted a Live auction, including a Craig Chaquico signed guitar, that brought in $6000 to GITC programs!" We are excited to partner up with these passionate GITC artists to expand kids' musical horizons.

Also in June, our founder and director, Jessica Baron and Guitars in the Classroom were honored by the My Hero Foundation with the  prestigious 2015 My Hero Award during an evening celebrating heroism through music education at the Herb Alpert Foundation We hope you'll enjoy the video created to honor our leader and our work through the link included in this enewsletter.

Each time people hear about our non-profit, more children get the chance to learn through music in their schools. This is one reason the artists and the awards are so important. Artists have the power to inspire their fans and their fans have the power to join all of you who are helping to change the tide of musical access in public education. Together we can get this done.

Fall classes will be ready for teacher enrollment later this month and we are expanding classes quite a lot in 2015-16 thanks to your commitment to making music a part of learning for every child. Thank you for staying with us!

With over 50% of American children living at or below the poverty level, it's crucial to their success in school that we make learning positive, creative, supportive and collaborative. Nothing has both the power to bring us human beings together and uplift our spirits quite like making music!

Into a brighter future with your participation and our gratitude for all you!  Thank you from all of us working with GITC. Please keep giving. Your charity matters.



Music Teachers Join K-8 Teachers to Lead the Way
Music Teachers Join K-8 Teachers to Lead the Way



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Organization Information

Guitars in the Classroom

Location: San Diego, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jessica Baron
San Diego, CA United States
$27,792 raised of $32,000 goal
395 donations
$4,208 to go
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