Hi, GITC Family,

Today, after 3 days of intense prep. I was interviewed on FOX News live by Julie Banderas- a passionate and committed advocate for worthy causes- about our work here with Guitars in the Classroom. You can watch the interview here if you wish:

http://bit.ly/RvVN0U (edit)

If you know me well, you know this was an entirely welcome but very daunting opportunity. First of all, I am at heart shy. Second, I am so close to this work that sorting out which points to make and which stories to tell is near impossible. I have seen miracles up close all over the country. Third, you know I get very emotional about what we do, having felt the impact with each teacher and child who has crossed my path and this emotion can lead me to stray off topic. Pity our board of directors of yesteryear who had to teach me to rein this in while they pulled their hair out. That was a while ago. You newer board members, thank goodness others dared to be the first. Just ask Peter.

So the possibility that I could accidentally flounder during such a fleeting chance to communicate about our mission with the broader public was mortifying to me.

Thank God.

Fear can be very constructive! Danger danger, Will Robinson!

Pushing through it meant asking for help. A lot of help. And doing research.

First I asked our board for guidance and they jumped right in. In particular, Walter Borden, Judy Roberts, and our prez, Peter D’Addario laid out the things we wanted to get across. This was a refinement that was a great exercise for all of us. Based on the notes from that call, I wrote a first draft.

Later that night, having revised the rough draft three times, I expressed my trepidation to my friend Drew Serafini who has a heart of gold and a radiant, clear mind. He asked me to read it through, he heard what worked, let me know gently what did not, backed me off the case of the nerves, and asked me to find my own heart and infuse the points with what was essential to me personally. That was a relief!

So I prayed some and started remembering the sacred nature of what I felt when this work came into being. The true and overall direction for my answers emerged. Simple stuff. Our children are born to learn music as they learn language. Music belongs in the general classroom. Learning should be a joy. Guitars are ubiquitous and have changed the face of worship, summer camp, community sing-alongs.  Communicating about GITC preserving the treasury of American songs for the next generation was also important. But mostly this had to be about the kids. Then there was the business side, but that had to be second to the heart of the work.

Next day, having devised a metaphor, a simile, and an anecdote (a kind of recipe), I began talking through the format of an 8 minute interview with my  friend Anna Ress who is a musician, mom, writer, and a marketing diva for Intuit. She knows all about leadership talks and presentations. She helped me prioritize, sequence responses, and consider how to answer Julie’s questions with at least one point we needed to make. What a strategist! This is not a natural process- so deliberate- but understanding the TV talk medium means knowing how to optimize the use of available time. I’d have had an easier time driving backwards on a freeway.

Then there was the fact that Lord God, my son was going to need a ride to school so I could get up at 5 am and drive to L.A. on a school day. Thank goodness for Danielle McDevitt. She is a great friend, a mom extraordinaire and we have been present for each other through all kinds of life’s twists and turns. She is also quite the gifted hair stylist. So indeed- those of you who are used to seeing me with my hair sloppily piled in a scrunchy may have wondered what happened if you watched the interview. Danielle happened. Yes indeed. Fixed my tresses and took Eli to school at 7:30 this morning while I crawled along the 5 coming into L.A. That’s a true friend. She did not even have to take her own girls to school this morning- they were in a carpool. Still, here she was on my doorstep to get Eli to San Dieguito Academy.

And where would I be without my mom? She called last night and pretended to be Julie Banderas (!) and asked me a zillion questions. She also gave me that sweater in the video for an early birthday present so I could wear something that did not clash with the whole FOX set. Thank you, Mom!

This morning on the way, Anna called and we talked about everything except the interview- a semblance of normal- and her husband Harry met me at their house in L.A.. made me coffee, played with my dog Homer, and Homer got to be a guest there while I zipped over the FOX for an hour.

It takes a village to raise a child. It also took a village to teach me how to do an interview on point… and survive. So I want to thank you, my friends and colleagues, for your kindness, guidance, and dedication. Also I am very thankful for my son who is never without a loving and reassuring word for his mom when she feels a little overwhelmed.

With gratitude beyond measure,

Jess

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