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A few days ago, I received this AMAZING GITC video from Tracy Wayne, elementary music teacher and Guitars in the Classroom coordinator and trainer in Clay County, West Virginia.

You might know that Clay has been hit with the hard weather of two hurricanes. It flooded so badly in recent months that the power was out for over a week. Schools have had to shut down to deal with storm damage. But Tracy and the folks in Clay are strong and determined, and this video is the living proof. No matter that unemployment is at an all time high with FOLA Coal laying off its work force there. No matter that teens are lacking resources and that the meth amphetamine culture is on the rise, taking the lives of two very beloved officers this fall.

The people in Clay are making use of every musical resource under Tracy’s loving guidance. Guitars in the Classroom thanks the Foundation for Bluegrass Music, Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, Godin Guitars, D’Addario & Co, Dunlop Manufacturing, Levy’s Leathers, Guitar Hands Cleansing Lotion, and Intellitouch Tuners for helping bring the music into Clay classrooms and beyond. Please enjoy this video that shows the progress folks have been making only since this September! 

And here is a recent note from Tracy:

Hey Jess,

We are having a snow day today due to the big storm. Its been raining for days but now we are getting lots of heavy wet snow. I had Jim Perdue (bluegrass playin grampa) scheduled to come to our after-school guitar classes last week. He was great and taught us to play a bass run lead-in. He worked with us playing as a band would play, (We had basses, drum set and ukes as well as guitars). Had a great time and several of the GITC teachers came to the class as well.

     I’m really excited about several things. My beginner class after-school has lots of kids and parents in it, about 25-30 strong. We are using Open G and playing and singing the songs from GITC songbook. They are so excited about making music, when in the past many beginners got disheartened because of the steep learning curve using standard tuning and dropped out.  In this class I also have several special needs students, (autistic and mentally impaired)  After a bit they kinda quit trying to add fingers, but they are so successful with strumming and singing that they warm my heart.  The joy of music is so evident when they sing and play it blesses the rest of us just to be in their presence.

     My fifth grade musicians are awesome.  I’m so proud of their accomplishments.  Don’t normally have a class this talented and motivated.  Unfortunately I will be losing them as our schedule rotates and they go to Art Class.  We have changed to standard tuning, and are playing and singing You are my sunshine (in D) The kids have gravitated to what they really enjoy doing and it’s all working out.  I have about 7 who love playing the guitar, 2 playing bass, one doing well on drum set, one on piano, one on my uke, a couple of orff xylos, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Our biggest problem comes when I dismiss the class.  They won’t put their instruments away and line up.  They just change instruments and group up keep playing or singing.  The teachers are getting mad a me, cause the kids are late everyday.  Keep in mind that we are in rural WV, no one takes private lessons and very few have instruments at home to practice on.

Yours truly,

Tracy Wayne

 

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