Apply to Join

Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!

by Guitars in the Classroom
Play Video
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Special Learners Deserve Music, Too!
Join us in San Diego for AMASE!
Join us in San Diego for AMASE!
Dear Friend of Special Education and Music,
Thank you for your continuing support! In the past week, many people have been asking us to share with them about our AMASE conferences coming up this summer. These trainings are open to anyone wanting to attend and we are offering them at no charge thanks to everyone who is helping out. Thsi means any teacher, aide or specialist regardless of their ability to pay can learn to bring music into teaching and therapy.
So how we are going about training special education professionals to lead music each day? And how is this process different for children with special needs? 

For most of us, learning to make music is a complex process that involves putting a myriad of motor skills, small and large to work. Our arms, hands and fingers, our legs, feet and toes, our ears, eyes and mouths, our hearts, our lungs, our heads, necks and torsos, and all that gray matter that connects the musical and physical dots for us are involved.  We are all born with musical potential, no matter what our bodies and brains can or cannot do with ease.

But what happens to children if some part of their anatomical tool box doesn't exist or doesn't work very well? Can a person with limiting conditions develop alternate ways to approach making music? The answer, of course, is "Yes, they can, and they must be given that chance."
Think of superstars like the irreducible Django ReinhardtStevie WonderEvelyn Glennie or Rick Allen of Def Lepard to get a glimpse of what is possible. There are so many musicians who have not let impairments stand in their way. 
Not only can all students learn to enjoy making music, but those who face major challenges physically, cognitively or emotionally stand to gain a great deal by having this opportunity.  We can help them accomplish this by preparing teachers to break down the assumptions and barriers. Then THEY can teach and assist students with special needs to lead the way. 
AMASE Conferences last two days. During this time, special education professionals gather together to learn and to improvise exciting ways to create inclusive, effective music instruction. We share adaptive practices and techniques for making instruments more accessible for students. Trainers in innovative technologies participate as do local music therapists who teach specialized interventions such as the artful de-escalation of aggressive behavior and refocusing students away from stressful triggers and toward productive participation.

GITC is able to offer these trainings to 45 participants each time and to do this at no charge thanks to very important grants from the Nordson Foundation, the Qualcomm Foundation and the NAMM Foundation, and with charitable participation from generous music products sponsors and amase-ing individual donors like YOU! We are deeply thankful to each and all for your compassionate support.
At GITC, we know AMASE has to offer a broad array of musical opportunities so that we can include students regardless of what kind of mountain they might be climbing. Ukuleles are fantastic but so are drums! We are crazy about REMO's Comfort Sound Technology drums created for students with special needs and hypersensitive hearing and so is the Beamz Interactive Unit!

Paralysis might look like a barrier but it need not be. With eye gaze technology, eye movements are enough to trigger musical instruments that work with computers. Spastic muscles might make it hard for students with Cerebral Palsy to strum strings or strike drums, but adaptive grips. picks and mallets solve that.  The variety of approaches to making music accessible is pretty good now and will only grow with time and exploration. We want to make sure these approaches reach the kids who can benefit from them the most.

This is why, through AMASE, we are "gathering the tribe" - calling all sorts of innovators together to join us in training special educators and paraprofessional staffers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, counselors and others to bring music making to students with special needs. Are you hearing the call? Please reach out to us. Let us know.  It takes quite a large village to make this endeavor possible! To discuss ways to get involved, please drop us a line! And to see when our next AMASE Conference is taking place, please visit our PROGRAMS PAGE.
We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for supporting the creation of AMASE.
With you in service for the children,
Jess

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Russ Sperling, SDUSD & Lauren Shelton, CVESD 2019
Russ Sperling, SDUSD & Lauren Shelton, CVESD 2019

Hello, Friends of Special Learners,

I am writing you this month to share some amazing news. Thanks to your generosity and encouragement, our special education team has grown and we are on the move! Since the last time you got a report on this initiative some fantastic education leaders have taken up the effort to get music to kids in special day classes with GITC.

Longtime GITC Classroom Teacher at Kearney HS in San Diego, Meghann Hughes has become the chair of the Special Education Caucus for the California Teacher's Union. She invited GITC to share her table at the recent New Teachers Conference for the Southern California Region. We put ukuleles and a guitar out and were approached by 65 different special ed teachers who are interested in training to bring music into their classrooms. Now Meghann wants GITC at each state level conference and is hoping to help us offer a workshop in 2019-2020. Thank you, Meghann!

And in January, Director of Visual and Performing Arts in San Diego Unified, Russ Sperling put together a meeting with the leadership in SDUSD's Special Education Services Department. Russ and I met with the new director of Curriculum & Instruction for Special Education, Ms. Andrea Vinson and she is onboard to help any special ed teacher in San Diego access GITC training through a carefully structured implementation plan for this- our home district. We are in the planning process now and welcome district Home Office teacher Stefanie Torres to the team. Stefanie has been assigned to help implement GITC for the district. This is a great bit of progress. Andrea Vinson and Russ Sperling ROCK!

Next Month (February) we begin planning to make great progress in our neighboring district, Chula Vista Elementary School District with the great Lauren Shelton. Lauren directs VAPA in Chula (on the border with Mexico) and she has grown that music program into a formidable one in which every sing student gets music education. Three cheers for her and Chula Vista. We are so excited to serve there!

I realize that this report is all about grown-ups. But these grown-ups are special. They are all heroes for the kids and because they care so deeply, hundreds of thousands of children are going to benefit from their desire to champion this cause and to take action. Please stay tuned because good times and important lessons await just up ahead.

We are here because you care to be a part of the solution. Thank you for your amazing participation and encouragement!

For the children,

Jess

Meghann Hughes (right) at CTA Conference
Meghann Hughes (right) at CTA Conference

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Training SpEd Teachers at Wegeforth
Training SpEd Teachers at Wegeforth

Dear Friends of Special Learners and Music,

Thanks for staying with us in the endeavor to include ALL students in music making. There might be so much good news to share that we'd run out of room telling you about it all this Fall. To keep this report short. we will focused on the way forward! Because you gave and supported the birth of this work, we have been able to show the value of it to foundations and get more support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving this initiative its foundation.

As you know, last July, GITC trained 45 special educators and paraprofessionals to adapt music at our first Adaptive Music Conference for Special Education. Thanks to the NAMM Foundation and Museum of Making Music for hosting this!

Based on an outpouring of gratitude and enthusiasm from participants, GITC applied for three grants to carry this work forward over the next two years. We requested support to advance musical inclusion in 2018-19 from Qualcomm Charitable Giving, the Nordson Foundation and from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2019-20. Our goal is to fully develop this approach here in San Diego, then create pathways to share it with educators nationally.

We created a name for the project, "AMASE" which stands for Adaptive Music for Achievement in Special Education. The awesome SpEd leaders from our lab at Euclid Elementary- Val Simons, Tony Nguyen and Lisa Winkless helped create the pitch deck and our staff member, Gail Wingfield has edited and beatified it. It is attached to this report for you! We hope you enjoy it. Board president Scott Fischel and Classroom Angel, Eric VanBuhler supported me to make the first pitch at Qualcomm. Then the Steve and Karen des Jardins helped us prepare to meet with the grant committee at Nordson. It truly took a village to get the work this far! Thanks to each of you who has helped.

In October, both Qualcomm Charitable Giving and the Nordson Foundation voted to award GITC funds that will support us to offer a second training to participating SpEd faculty, and to hold a third Adaptive Music Conference in the summer to welcome another 45 teachers to this work! You can see the big plan in the deck. (We won't know about the outcome of our NEA grant application until next June.) Our focus is provide training and instrument support to every interested SpEd teacher in our local school districts (San Diego County Schools and San Diego Unified Schools). By helping here first, we can create a destination others can visit, and where we can constantly observe and assess the effort. 

In the meantime, Behavioral Specialist, Desiree Cera has joined our faculty this autumn. She is bringing her expertise in music, psychology and behavioral strategies to this work at a high level and already has some very moving stories to tell. Our forthcoming newsletter features a story on Desiree and her work with GITC at Wegeforth Elementary. This includes photos and videos, too! If you wish to see the article, you can read it as a blog at our website, and please feel free to register to get our monthly enewsletter here if you are interested.

We look forward to keeping you in the loop as the next trainings take shape. We welcome your input anytime! Let's make this an extraordinary year together so special learners can express themselves in a new way, surpass expectations, and show the world their beauty through music.

Thank you for being our partner for the kids. We hope you will keep this project in mind if you donate on November 27th during GlobalGiving.org's awesome matching and bonus opportunities on Giving Tuesday!

With you, in service,

Jess

Links:


Attachments: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Sped Conference Graduates 2018
Sped Conference Graduates 2018

Dear GITC Supporter,

We are floating on a cloud after the successful launch of our annual Special Ed Adaptive Music Conference! Your generous donations and support made it possible for Guitars in the Classroom to facilitate a rich and inspiring weekend of learning for 45 special educators, paraeducators and specialists in Carlsbad, California.

The conference kicked off with a wine and cheese reception at the Museum of Making Music and an unforgettable performance by the Heartstrings Band from One Step Beyond in Phoenix, Arizona. Jared Woolsey, the leader of the band, gave participants a look into how he facilitates student jam bands for these talented and passionate youth with disabilities; there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Please check out our facebook page to see clips of the band. 

Over the next two days, participants cross-trained in 3 different areas: Remo Comfort Sound Technology with George Thompson, Beamz Interactive Music Technology with Tom Reidy and Strumming and Singing for Learning with Jessica Baron of Guitars in the Classroom. You can see the training in progress through the youtube links below. Thanks to videographer Anabelle Vo and the My Hero Project for their help filming the conference!

Educators who attended the conference left equipped and inspired to implement their learning in the classroom, ready to create more accessible and enjoyable learning experiences for the students they serve. We invite you to experience a bit of the magic of the weekend by watching some clips from the conference on our YouTube channel.

This week we submitted a grant that we hope will fund the second year of this conference and extend our work in special education classrooms in San Diego County. We'll keep you posted!

We can't thank you enough for your commitment to the students in our community with special needs. It makes our hearts full to see donors supporting the educators who work to help these students thrive and include them in learning every day.

With gratitude and excitement for the learning ahead,

Jess

Founder/Executive Director

Special Educator Deborah Anderson thanks NAMM!
Special Educator Deborah Anderson thanks NAMM!

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
The Award
The Award

Dear Friend of Special Learners,

We are writing to ask you to celebrate with us. One of our own, the remarkable Val Simons, special educator in our San Diego Sped Lab at Euclid Elementary has been officially recognized by our home district for her creativity and dedication to serving students through the Arts. As a "mod to severe" specialist who makes music a daily part of learning for her students, Val was recognized this past Sunday by the San Diego Unified School District's department of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) in a beautiful ceremony at the grand Copley Symphony Hall. We are including photos from the event with this report for you to feel the magic.

Val applied for and was rewarded with a coveted VAPA grant so that, in addition to filling her room with percussion instruments and ukuleles for every child, she could also add a karaoke machine, and acquire instrument wall hangers in order to keep the ukes safely off the floor of her classroom. This grant application brought her efforts to light. Among all the arts educators who were congratulated, Val stood proudly as the representative for special education in the presence of our Superintendent, Cindy Marten, members of the San Diego Unified School Board, and the Vice Chair of the California Arts Council, Larry Baza. She is a change bringer!

We want to share this proud moment with you because Val is humble, tireless and irreducibly creative. She would never seek attention for herself. This makes this award all the more special. She has been making the world better for kids with special needs since 1989 when she was introduced to the Special Olympics by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Since that day there has been no looking back.

Val has worked very hard to be able to play ukulele and guitar, and to learn to transmit what she knows to her students. And because of her, they are now singing, writing songs, playing ukes, drums, shakers and more, and they are responding to the power of music to help them learn new ideas, vocabulary and behaviors.

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Val, or another wonderful mother during this month's Mother's Day capaign, we hope you will visit our new project on GlobalGiving.org right here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/songs-for-care-comfort-hope-and-healing/!

Thank you for taking the time to share our appreciation for this extraordinary special educator.

With gratitude for your compassion and support of our work,

Jess

Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound
Val's New Music Wall
Val's New Music Wall
Val at Symphony Hall
Val at Symphony Hall

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org 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.

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:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @GITCmusic
Project Leader:
Jessica Baron
San Diego, CA United States
$12,610 raised of $15,000 goal
 
153 donations
$2,390 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Guitars in the Classroom has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.