Students in GITC Classrooms Are Playing Ukulele! Thanks to a major donation from Kala Brand Music Company and a wonderful classroom subsidy program from Kohala Ukuleles, students in GITC programs these days are learning to play ukulele as part of their classroom musical learning experiences!
In the middle of last year,Drew Lewis, head of ukulele sales for Hohner, U.S. found a way to make it possible for teachers in our programs to acquire classroom ukuleles at a subsidized cost so GITC could begin giving children more hands-on experience strumming and singing in their classrooms. We launched a fundraising campaign on GlobalGiving.org to fund the experiment and this made it possible to send a small number of ukuleles into Headstart GITC Classrooms in Mississippi!
Then, in December, we got an amazing email from Rick Carlson, CEO of KALA Brand Music Company, offering to donate nearly 1000 ukuleles to our school programs in California and Arizona. Though it was a busy time of the year for the company, they rallied their shipping forces and sent pallets of ukuleles out to our teacher training programs in Oakland, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Oceanside, Encinitas, San Diego, and Phoenix, Arizona, thus beginning a real exploration of the role that ukes can play in GITC classrooms.
In the meantime, our faculty trainer, Tracy Wayne in Clay County. West Virginia asked her school to purchase ukuleles with the subsidy from Kohala and she began integrating ukuleles with social studies learning there. You can see a wonderful video of her students performing at our facebook page!
It was amazing for our programs to receive entire pallets of ukuleles the week before Christmas! Here is our teacher training program in Phoenix, Arizona, hosted by Bookmans Books, showing off their new ukuleles with instructor Gerry De La Torre!
In addition to bringing ukuleles to GITC classrooms, through KALA’s generosity, we were able to fulfill it’s promise as YMCA National Music Sponsor to provide 100 instruments to YMCAs across the country. Clubs in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Illinois and Georgia each received a set of ukuleles to provide hands-on music lessons to students after school. GITC’s role is to ensure the instruments go to clubs that are ready to use them, care for them, and provide positive instruction for children. As the YMCA’s national music sponsor, we aim to help more children have successful musical experiences after school while we make friends in new communities around the nation.
Looking ahead, we are excited to continue bringing ukes and guitars together for learning. The secret? If you tune a ukulele to Open C and you put a capo at the fifth fret on a guitar tuned in Open G, you have instruments that play in tune together and create a beautiful, full sound. The chord forms are the same then, and what teachers have learned in their GITC training classes applies easily to the ukulele. In addition, ukuleles tuned in standard are easy enough to play simply than many teachers are simply showing children how to play the usual way.
GITC has lots to learn about teaching ukulele. If you are experienced and want to be a part of this process, please write us!