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

by Guitars in the Classroom
Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary
Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary

Dear Friend,

You may be asking yourself, "Why is Guitars in the Classroom thanking me for helping children learn to read? I donated to their music program. What gives?"

Recently, our organization has been focusing musical interventions in classrooms on helping students who are struggling to acquire English as a second language to improve their speaking, reading and writing skills through songs and songwriting. Your gift is making a double difference for these children because as they learn to feel, count and keep the beat, strum ukuleles, sing together and on their own, they are also learning to read.

Think back to when you first started reading. Do you remember the mystery of which way the stems to "b, d, p and q" went? Imagine growing up in a Spanish speaking household where h's are silent and j's sound like "y's", then coming to school and being expected to know how to spell words with all of those letters. Children in grade 2 who are still having trouble with these essential kinds of language components need a way to get the information into their minds and mouths that has nothing to do with a worksheet or a test. They must use them in motivating, meaningful contexts everyday.

This winter, your dollars are helping us train teachers to reverse the language learning train back into the station before it runs off the rails leaving kids behind. The teachers in underperforming schools around the US who are studying with us are writing lyrics to songs that will really matter to their specific students by teaching intial consonants, letter blends, consonant vowel consonant words and much more. By reteaching the basic letters and sounds embedded in an undeniable rhythm and melody, children are finally able to memorize, recognize and use them! We are seeing the kids enthusiastically grasping language while really loving learning through music.

This month, you can enjoy the feature piece from the Today Show that shows performer Jason Mraz interacting in a second grade GITC classroom at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Logan Heights, San Diego. This school has 100% poverty and over 70% English Learners. In that classroom filmed by the Today Show, we are coaching teacher Christine Tomkinson to also apply music to teaching skip counting! The link to the video is included in this report.

I hope you will feel proud of this work that YOU, yes you have made possible. Our work here in the barrio was funded exclusively by donations to this project! As part of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, our work at Luther Burbank does not receive government funding, just their inclusion in statistical outcomes after three years. Without you, we could not be participating. Now, 10 of the 13 faculty members on staff are actively training with GITC, leading and writing songs for learning, and kids in every classroom are strumming ukuleles during math, reading, social studies and science when they sing their lessons. The school is transforming from a place of conflict and suffering caused by abject poverty into a bright artistic environment with happier students and encouraged teachers. I was visiting yesterday and actually saw an 8 year old boy singing and skipping from his classroom to the office. A first!

Please stay with this project and help us create materials that teachers everywhere can use for free. We want every child to benefit from our efforts this year and your participation is necessary to make it possible. Our dream for the 2015 school year is a new place on the website with songs and lessons for English and Math learning at every grade level!

Thank you for giving us the support we need to make such a substantial difference in the lives of our neediest students. The ripple effect will be felt for generations.

Peace and grateful best wishes,


students and teachers
students and teachers


Guitar at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Cente
Guitar at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Cente

Happy New Year, GITC Music Giver!

As 2015 begins, all of us working to bring music to learning across the curriculum with GITC want to thank you for a magnificent opening few months of school and a successful 2014!

This past fall thanks to each one of you, Guitars in the Classroom has been able to bring learning to life for children from Vermont, Massachusetts and Virginia, down the eastern seaboard through South Carolina, into the Gulf Coast region, through Michigan and clear across the country to California...then out into the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii! Your charity is making this progress and joy possible truly all over our nation as well as in parts of Canada! Teachers in Ontario continue to lead songs for learning and we are working on a pilot program now with leadership from Robert and Janet Godin in their city of Quebec. Music is ubiquitous, universal, and children benefit from singing to learn everywhere. Thanks to everyone here, the power of music is lighting up classrooms in so many places this school year.

This fall, you gave us the "fuel" to get instruments into the hands of teachers and children in classrooms in public schools that long ago lost their elementary music classes - and this feels like a miracle to kids who want so much to get the chance to learn. Teachers like Patrice Maller at Silvergate Elementary in San Diego learned to play and lead songs with GITC last summer. Now her student are writing songs regularly and playing them, too. You can read about that at our website. So are the children in Joey Sutera's class in Santee, California and you can see the joy on their faces in the photo below!  Children at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center in the heart of South Central Los Angeles are learning to play guitar, too thanks to donor Jim O'Brien, here at Global Giving. And this year, on Maui, teachers at the Pomaika'i Elementary School worked with their students to write and perform songs about the water cycle on their island and about marine life!  These students have not had any formal music education but this year, their teachers are introducing ukuIele and guitars thanks to you.

I hope you'll take a moment to look at these photos and really see the spark your giving has lit for these young people and their teachers. Then consider what their lives would be like if you had not given a donation.

In these challenging financial times, with your contribution, GITC has been filling a critical gap for children who need upliftment, positive engagement and creative learnng through the arts! By helping their classroom teachers intelligently integrate hands-on musical experiences as a part of learning math, science, social studies, English and so much more, you are creating lasting change in the schools. Once a teacher learns to do this work, they have the skills for life! We are also working hard to support the return of music education to these schools and this fall even began training music teachers in Los Angeles Unified Schools to lead the way. These are exciting, hopeful times.

Together, we are collaborating on developing new understandings and materials for teachers that highlight the science of music, the math and patterning of composition, the acquisition of key reading strategies through songwriting and reading lyrics! In Oxnard, CA, students who are new to America and learning to speak and read in English through songs, singing and songwriting. In Burlington, Vermont, the students have been learning American history through song. In Boston, Massachusetts, the children are singing about their futures and how to aim high. In San Diego, they are singing about the order of operations, skip counting and garden science. All this music is because we are innovating in your name.

Please donate again if you love this cause and help us do more. At GITC, we know that one day, some of the children we reach in 2015 who are unable to read now will successfully graduate high school because we do this work together. Some will become musicians, es, and others will be creative thinkers in every field... and all will be able to pass the love of music and the body of traditional folk songs on to their own children.

Thank you for all you have made possible in 2014! One classroom at a time, we are making education better. Let's keep going.

With appreciation and gratitude,


Joey Sutera
Joey Sutera's Class
Susan Tu
Susan Tu's class in Burlington, VT
GITC at Luther Burbank Elementary in San Diego
GITC at Luther Burbank Elementary in San Diego
Teachers practice water songs at Pomaikai
Teachers practice water songs at Pomaikai


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


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


Challenger Middle School Ukes!
Challenger Middle School Ukes!

Dear Sponsor and Friend,

Thank you so much for helping Guitars in the Classroom bring more joy, energy and engagement to learning in grades K-8. Your gift has been helping child after child become a more musical person while enjoying learning everything from math to social studies. More and more these days, our classes are including hands-on ukuleles for the students to play. They strum to accompany the songs they are composing as a part of learning every subject.

This time, please meet the musical students at Challenger Middle School. Their teacher, Cathy Green has been teaching academics and music, both, and she loves to combine the two. When your donation helped us fund trainings that Cathy could attend, she learned to lead songwriting with her 6th-8th graders and she also learned to play and teach ukulele. At a time when life can be very confusing, her students are positive, involved, and doing well. Some of this is because Cathy's own positive spirit finds expression by bringing music into everything she does in the school.

That is one reason GITC is making a difference in education; because the teachers find a way to be authentic, creative and spontaneous in their teaching through music. This restores in their spirits the passion that originally drove them to become teachers in the first place. And it flies in the face of over-testing and fear of failure that became so rampant in many American classrooms as a result of No Child Left Behind. Singing requires breathing and breathing reduces stress. Strumming is a form of movement, and movement calms the mind. Music is in this way, a kind of natural medicine. Strumming a beautiful chord and singing together begins to change everything.

Thank you for helping GITC make the music possible in the schools. Together, let's make sure more teachers learn to lead so more children have this chance to learn, live and feel better everyday.

With gratitude for all you do,




About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Guitars in the Classroom

Location: San Diego, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jessica Baron
San Diego, CA United States

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Find out what happens next. Sign up for email updates from GlobalGiving and this project.