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

by Guitars in the Classroom
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,



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


Music Makes a Difference in learning!
Music Makes a Difference in learning!

Hello, Supportive Friend of Music!

We want to give you a quick note to catch you up with the good things your gift has made possible already this school year! It’s an exciting time and I am so grateful you are with us!

The school year is off to an exciting (and somewhat controversial) start around the U.S. with the introduction of the Common Core Content Standards. These standards bring critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills to the forefront of America education. Instead of focusing primarily on units of test-able factoids and quantifiable memorization, the Common Core attempts to help our kids employ their bright minds in collabroative, creative and useful ways that will lead to long term understanding and success.

While many teachers agree it’s a move in “the right direction,” it also steps up the work load for teachers everywhere and increases the expectations for our students. Much discussion about these standards is underway everyday. Not everyone agrees on their value or viability but in general the buzz is positive. At its’ best, the Common Core is asking teachers to engage students in compelling activities and projects that build not only core subject area knowledge but also help them develop lasting life skills for the 21st Century.

With your support, GITC can make the process as joyful, artistic and effective as possible this year! Music will absolutely help. The power of music to engage everyone and lift spirits is undeniable. Please find the link to a great article about why music makes things so much more enjoyable with this report.

This week GITC will be sharing at our website a NEW how-to powerpoint that breaks the goals of the Common Core down within a framework of 21st century skills, and weaves the whole process through collaborative student music making and songwriting for learning. This should make connections clearer for teachers and also make it easier for any teacher to show her or his administrator how and why music has a helpful place in the general classroom!

Please stay with us to help us launch new programs - in alignment with the Common Core- this fall. We already got started in Hampton, Virgina, Clay, West Virginia, Oxnard, CA, Vista, CA, and in a few weeks we start in Lansing, MI!

Guitars in the Classroom needs your continuing support to give teachers the training and supplies to make music in the general classroom possible. Together, let's empower teachers to boost student engagement and success through writing, playing and singing songs with new vocabulary and better language fluency. Let's give them music that improves student reading comprehension and the ability to decode language syllabically. (Remember that song lyrics really emphasize the different syllables in each word as it scans across musical notes.) Let's pour music into our schoools together.

Your donation of any amount makes a difference not for one or two but for 240 30 children at a time!

These darling students in the photo you are seeing are only in their second month of third grade at Sandburg Elementary School in Mira Mesa, Ca. Their teacher trained with us - and they can each already play four chords on ukulele! As a class they have already written five songs for math, language arts and science lessons! In this photo they are playing “The Earth is Our Mother” as part of their study of the Kumayay people in preparation for Thanksgiving. You can see the engagement and joy in their faces- they power of the music in their hands.

Please give now and make this magic possible for children in classrooms all over the United States. You are helping us change so many young lives when you take action on right here on!

Thank you for your awesome support. Together we are making a difference every day.




students play guitar during social studies
students play guitar during social studies

Hello, Friend of GITC,

Thank you for putting your encouragement and power into our work this school year! Your gift made a magnificent difference for over 70,000 children in public schools around the nation this year! Your kindness has been particularly life changing for those students in disadvantaged a.k.a. "Title I" schools where musical opportunities have grown scarce.    

Thanks to your good will, we were able to train almost 800 school teachers this year to lead and integrate music into daily lessons in Pre-K through 8th grade classrooms from San Diego to Boston, from Oakland to Biloxi, MS.

With your assistance, children played guitars and ukuleles to accompany the songs they wrote about multiplication, division and fractions. With their teachers' guidance, they wrote new lyrics to memorize spelling words. They created story songs about scientific discoveries. They performed for their classmates and parents. We even have heard stories of children teaching their younger siblings at home to play because you provided them with a chance to learn. The students learned lessons through music, yes, and they felt passionate about learning because of the music. There is no question that these musical experiences will stay with them throughout life. A child who strummed a ukulele for this first time this year because of YOU may get music lessons next year because your generosity has sparked a keen interest. One who showed another child how to play a chord may decide one day to become a teacher. These formative experiences are essential to the success our our kids.

We also got some very special visits from artists this school year. Teachers at Pacheco Elementary in San Luis Obispo, California and EARTHS magnet school in Ventura County and CAPE Elementary in Camarillo, California got to perform with Laurence Juber or Drew Taubenfeld and his band, all visiting GITC artists.This is something we want to see lots more of next year and we hope you will stay committed to GITC and will keep making musical dreams come true!

With your help, this has been a time of growth, creativity and hope for many people who had not made music before, and also for teachers who had started training with us but wanted the chance to continue. You made it possible. Let's keep going together! Let's make the 2013-14 school year a time when even more children discover their potential, thrill to the sound of learning through music, and experience the joys of having a guitar in their classroom.

With you in service and with gratitude,


Teachers Rock with Drew Taubenfeld
Teachers Rock with Drew Taubenfeld



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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
$28,126 raised of $32,000 goal
403 donations
$3,874 to go
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