Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort

by Guitars in the Classroom
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Songs for Help, Hope, Healing & Comfort
Teachers Learn Together
Teachers Learn Together

Dear Friend,

This little report is giving you an update on our latest efforts to engage teachers in writing new songs for self-care. The woes of pandemic fatigue are getting to so many of us at a time we are getting closer to solutions. When we let down our guard, more people get sick, and this seems to be happening regardless of the potential consequences.

Teachers are hyper-vigilant. They carry the weight of the students in their classrooms on their shoulders and are trying their best to stay healthy. But with so many people confused about safety or just getting tired of exercising caution, teachers are needing to take even more care than before not to get sick. For GITC, at this time, supporting teachers to sustain their determination and morale and maintain their energy is particularly important. How we get through these long months of waiting before the general population can be vaccinated depends on everyone's personal strength and resilience.

As an outgrowth of this project, and in the spirit of taking care of our education First Responders, our nonprofit offered a songwriting workshop during the winter break for teachers interested in learning to craft their own music and lyrics. In addition to teaching songwriting for academics, we also focused on writing short "self care" songs.

Each teacher was asked to center, focus, breathe deeply, and find the words they sometimes tell themselves to get through difficult moments. Each one took time to reflect, meditate and craft their own messages. In this way, each one was able to draw on her own wisdom and beliefs to find personal words of encouragement. The teachers then wrote their self-coaching phrases down privately and several also shared them in the chat stream of Zoom. 

Each personal self care message was so powerful that it bore repeating, and when spoken in rhythm, formed a rhythmic phrase that teachers shared out loud. For example, "Take a deep breath, then let it go, take a deep breath then let it go, take a deep breath then let it go, relax, relax" when recited over a steady pulse actually got the group doing exactly that. 

Next, the teachers learned to create a melody to their self-care phrases based on the inflection of the spoken words in their phrases. Each one shared her phrase out loud and we traced the rise and fall of the pitches of her voice as she recited her phrase. The higher her voice rose, the higher them melodic contour rose. The lower it fell, the lower the next portion of the melody unfolded.

Finally, following that melodic contour agains that steady pulsing beat, each teacher sang her own self-care song out loud. As the whole class engaged in this activity, we started to see light come back into each others eyes. Breathing became slower, deeper and easier. A connection was felt between the teachers and within each indiviudal with her own power to administer self care. 

Perfecting these songs was not important in the workshop because songs are living, growing creations that are not done until the songwriter's message is complete. So each teacher left with the beginning or the heart of a song to sing, to explore, to sing while strumming a guitar or ukulele or striking a drum, and to remember in a stressful moment. 

What teachers can take into their classrooms is this idea to share with students, especially on a diffiicult day. Today the country was beginning to recover from the shock of the attack on our nation's Capitol and the senators who were doing the business of the nation.  It is at exactly such a time that songs for help, hope, healing and comfort can be most important to students and their teachers, too.

Thank you for your support of this gentle yet important project. As we each and all endeavor to come through the stress of the pandemic, I am more than grateful for your contribution to keeping GITC's work alive.

Wishing you a healthy, inspiring and safe new year,

Jess

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This Little Light with Student Songwriting
This Little Light with Student Songwriting

Greetings, Project Supporters!

I am excited to bring you up to date with the production of our songbook for hope, help, healing and comfort. In response to a series of brutal murders of unarmed Black Americans by police, our society has clearly entered into a time in which many citizens are sharing stories of suffering and loss as the direct result of racism and racial profiling. This is hard for any of us who understand the personal and social devastation these losses are causing. But for children, this violence is particularly hard to process.

GITC's answer is to add songs of resilience and empowerment to the collection as tools to aid the peaceful expression of a desire for racial reckoning in our society, Songs have a long history of supporting nonviolent protest for the cause of social justice. We have also begun offering teaching artist residencies that include these songs- and their history- as a part of musical learning.!

The songbook will be available for free as an online document with accompanying recordings and videos so anyone with access to a computer or smartphone will be able to learn to sing the songs, making a difference for teachers and students everywhere. These songs will stay with students in their memories throughout life, to be sung whenever challenges are great. You are making this possible.

In the meantime, please visit our blog pages listed below in links to learn more about how GITC music in helping to include all students and is addressing the important topic of social justice. 

We are thankful you continue to empower us to make it possible. You are love in action, and we are pleased to be your messengers.

With love, hope, help and healing,

Jess

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Porch Pick Ups Bring Happiness & Music to Life!
Porch Pick Ups Bring Happiness & Music to Life!

Greettings, Project Supporters!

 

I am excited to write to you with some definitive news. We are beginning the production process on this wonderful songbook at long last. Our senior faculty trainer and music educator, Dan is working on song charts, our book creation team of Ronny and Charylu are ready to take the material and spin it into a rainbow of music, and we are beginning the work of clearing copyrights for a number of the songs you'll find in between the covers. 

Ronny and Charylu are the dynamic duo who brought our SmartStart Ukulele for Beginners book into the world. They've worked together forever and make truly beautiful child-friendly music books. I trust that the faith you placed in GITC with your donation will be rewarded with an outstanding outcome!

With the onset of COVID-19, nation-wide school closures, and families needing to shelter at home, this book could not be more timely. The fact is that children are having a very tough time all the way around. Trying to learn online can lead to feeling lost, detached and frustrated. It's really a medium much more easily managed by teens and adults.  Teachers tell us "the only thing that's working is music."  So they are writing songs with their students to help them cope with the loneliness and fear. And some of these songs will appear in this songbook!

"Why make a physical book?" you may wonder. In this digital age, is it important? We agree that electronic docs are brilliant. And reading online saves trees. But everyone has screen exhaustion just about now. And a book is tactile. It comes with you to a quiet corner or a spot beneath a tree. You can hold it, feel the pages, color in it, share it with a family member and sit close together. Books have a way of comforting and grounding us. This is why it needs to be made in both formats. Also consider all the children without Internet access and computers. We can help any child with a real book to send them.

I will let you know how things are coming along very soon- we won't wait a whole 3 months to update you again.

In the meantime, please have a look at what GITC is doing to get music into the hands of the children in our participating classrooms by enjoying the video below from CBS yesterday, and visiting our blog page at https://www.guitarsintheclassroom.org/blog/creativity-songwriting-to-express-student-stress-mrs-lowes-second-grade-sings-dont-worry-be-happy. GITC Porch Pick-Ups are pretty special and heartwarming. 

If you feel like you want to help GITC do more, we hope you will either contribute again to this campaign, or visit our GlobalGiving campaign to support our ability to keep training and supporting teachers with online training.

We are thankful you empower us to make it possible. You are love in action, and we are pleased to be your messengers.

With love, hope, help and healing,

Jess

Porch Pick Ups Make Dreams Come True!
Porch Pick Ups Make Dreams Come True!

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Teresa and her husband, Rhys - GITC Songsters!
Teresa and her husband, Rhys - GITC Songsters!

Dear Friend,

If you know kindergarteners, first graders or second graders, you already know that teasing, cheating, bullying, lying, excluding and name calling produce a gnarly aftermath- tattling!  Primary teachers need a constructive song to cure the need to tattle. (They also need songs to cure all those other troubles, too, hence this project!)

The social emotional awareness and refined social skills children need to learn to navigate at school take lots of thinking, self control and practice to master. But music can speed the process along. It took one heroic, dedicated, resolute and time-crunched primary teacher to solve the tattling problem.

San Diego Unified teacher Mrs. Teresa came up with a brillant solution. She wrote a song for her students to sing and memorize that contains four goof-proof strategies for solving social problems. She brought that song to my after school PD at Jefferson Elementary in North Park one day and played it for the group. Her colleagues and I went nuts!

This song is so catchy. She borrowed the public domain melody from the traditional Gold Rush song, "Clementine," Can't go wrong repurposing that song as the original lyrics are about a girl with no shoes who drowns. Not exactly cheery stuff. So many old songs are dark and need a rewrite because they were written to cope with hardship (think the Black Plague).

I asked Ms. Teresa if she realized she had written a hit and she humbly replied, "Well I thought it seemed pretty good..."  Truthfully, teachers have a true knack for songwriting. But Ms. Teresa is a phenom. So the collection of songs for this book keeps growing. 

I hope you will indulge me for a moment and hum along to "Clementine" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebyiyntVQNM. Next sing it again using Ms, Teresa's phenomenal lyrics, below. (These are now copyrighted by the way).  The next time you need to give sage advice to a young person who is on the receiving end of hurtful words, you;ll have her song to fall back in.

We are not supposed to use full names in our GlobalGiving reports but for copyright purposes, you need hers.

There Are Four Things 

Composed by Teresa Adams (c) 2019 

There are four things, there are four things, there are four things I can do.

When somebody is bothering me, there are four things I can do.

I can talk it out, I can walk away, I’ll ignore the thing they do.

When all else fails, find a grown up or a friend to help me through!

I hope this new GITC song brings a smile to your face and more importantly a new tool to help little ones heal their hearts when their friends act like, well...little kids. Thanks for sharing my delight. And if you share Teresa's song, please be sure to give her credit where credit is due. Thanks.

Yours for the children,

Jess

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Miss D trains our teachers!
Miss D trains our teachers!

Dear Supporter, 

Today we want to share with you about a song written to the tune of Bingo by our "Head of Sped," Desirée. This song is lovingly refered to as "The Green Zone Song" but its official title is "These Are Strategies."

If you have spent time with someone who experiences extreme sensory overstimulation that results in increasing levels of anxiety and aggression, you may know of the agony they experience. When sounds, sights and sensations become more than they can process or handle, it is normal for the extreme discomfort to make them "boil over" into violent behavior. Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, is she talking about Autism? My answer is maybe but not always. Just understanding that a child is in great distress is enough. And getting them to help is more important here than applying diagnostic labels. There are many reasons kids boil over.

Extreme behavior can look like flapping, shrieking, hitting, biting, screaming, attacking others and throwing objects. Students in these states usually become a danger to themselves and others. This escalation often leads to injuries and broken windows as well as the destruction of school property. When this happens in a classroom, classmates can become scared and may get hurt.

The teacher must contain the student if they can. If they cannot, they must "clear the classroom" meaning they have to quickly remove all of the other students from the room rather than risk injury. Learning is lost. Chaos reigns. And back in the classroom, in the absence of the teacher, the student in crisis may be breaking their teachers' supplies and furniture. This kind of event is happening every day.

By the time help eventually arrives, not much can be done. The storm has passed. The wreckage is everywhere including inside the student who boiled over. Students who have these behavioral emergencies may be suspended. If the troubles persist, they may be expelled. At the very least, they have lost academic time and caused other students to do the same. The police might get involved, too. The cost to the school and the school district is great as well. And the impact on the child and their family is very serious.

As a behaviorist, Miss D. asked herself what she could do that might possibly help students with extreme sensory and emotional overwhelm. And as a singer, songwriter and GITC Faculty Trainer, her first idea was to write a song for students to sing to remind themselves of things they can do to calm themselves down! She turned to a popular teaching approach for helping such students called the Zones of Regulation. You can read lots about it by following the link below. 

The appproach teaches students to identify their emotional condition according to color-coded zones and to come up with positive strategies to stay in or get back to the Green Zone. The zones include Green for calm, Yellow for stressed, Blue for sad and Red for angry.  In each zone the student learns to identify and name their feelings, study and practice constructive social thinking strategies that help them regain self control, and restore themselves to a calm inner state before it's too late. 

So Miss D created a verse for each zone with a blank in each verse so students can come up with feeling words that accurately describe their emotions. This is followed by another blank in which they can write a social thinking strategy that will get them "back to green" where they can "feel calm." When a student is in the Yellow Zone, they may feel "worried" and "need to breathe." In the Blue Zone they may feel "lonely" and need to "ask for a hug." in the Red Zone they may feel "furious" and need to "walk it out." The solutions students learn keep them and everyone else safe.

Miss D. first taught her song to students in our district's STARS program for college bound Autistic students. She was how quickly and enthusiastically her students adopted the song, asked to sing it daily, and began using it among themselves to help each other manage their own well-being. Then one day, a student in the throws of escalating from the Yellow Zone into Red came running into class and yelled to his classmates, "I need the Green Zone Song! Sing me the Green Zone song!" The class jumped right on it and sang their classmate down from Red, back through Yellow and clear on back to Green. It felt like nothing short of a miracle. Disaster was stopped in its tracks in 3 minutes. That student showed everyone how to calm down with the song at the time of crisis.

Since that day, our faculty in San Diego has been teaching the song to every educator who comes into our AMAISE trainings. AMAISE stands for Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education. Last weekend we held a conference for special educators in our district at Whittier School. The teachers came from all over San Diego! Everyone learned to sing, play and lead the "Green Zone Song." This week, students are learning a new way to help themselves understand and artfully manage their emotional states. We are so grateful and proud to be including it in the forthcoming songbook! 

Thank you so much for your support, Friends. You can read more about Miss D. at the link provided below that leads to a blog about her work with GITC. We cannot wait to share the book and her song with you by the end of this year!

We wish you well through plenty of green days ahead,

Jess

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Organization Information

Guitars in the Classroom

Location: San Diego, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @GITCmusic
Project Leader:
Jessica Baron
San Diego, CA United States
$5,625 raised of $6,000 goal
 
78 donations
$375 to go
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