What You’ll Learn with Guitars in the Classroom

During your classes with GITC, you will be learning to make music. Not just to make it…but to feel it, understand it, and produce it in ways that feel comfortable. Not to someone else’s standards, but according to what works well and sounds best to you. Our approach is practical and personal.If you ever took music lessons in the past and quit because it was too hard to succeed, you can put that experience in the past and leave it there.  These lessons are easy. Why?

GITC classes are based on the same idea that makes Reggio Emilio so successful in early childhood education- student emergent curriculum.  We aim to create each week’s classes according to our developmental techniques and our framework by adapting to what the teachers in are doing, liking, and needing.  This is not the race to some predestined finish. As long as you are learning, we’re happy.

GITC starts everyone off with the most fundamental parts of making music- feeling and keeping the beat, creating simple rhythms, and playing rhythm patterns. Not according to notes on a page, but to the sounds in your ears, the feelings in your hands, and the combinations of sounds that appeal to your ears. Yes, you’ll learn to write them down eventually. But the most important thing is for you to hear, feel, do, and know.

When you sing, it won’t be to impress someone or win a contest. You will be singing for the joy of it, singing in the vocal range that fits your own pipes. Everyone has a voice and when you relax and use it to sing out, your singing is going to get good.  You’ll surprise yourself. And the more you sing, the better your pitch will get. We’ll teach you fun vocal warm ups and ear training games that get you tuned up with ease.

You’ll learn to sing and play guitar at the same time with our special Open G tuning approach to the guitar. Your hands won’t hurt. You’ll be getting through whole songs almost immediately. No kidding. We’ve made it very simple. In 6-8 weeks, you will be playing three and four chord songs, singing, and having a blast.

Also, you’ll be writing new lyrics to melodies you already know. This is called “Piggyback Songwriting” by some people, “copy change” writing by others, or writing “zipper songs” by others. Whatever we call it, this process is fun, and you’ll be doing it collaboratively with your whole group, then in small groups and pairs, and eventually on your own. When you get the hang of it, we will teach you how to facilitate that kind of writing in your classroom with students so they can embed their lessons in songs, and practice them. Students feel very proud of their songs and the fact that lesson content comprises the lyrics is going to help them do better on assignments and tests. Especially if you sing the songs before you give the tests!

Learning this “Music Integration” approach will help you teach students to sing, keep the beat, create new lyrics, perform their songs for other students, and in many cases, participate hands-on guitar experiences in the context of lessons in Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Health, and the Arts, resource classes, speech and language therapy, and in library learning, and school counseling as well.  You will have the ability to turn any kind of lesson into a musical experience- one your students will enjoy and remember.

The guitar approach you’ll be following has been developed by GITC’s founder and executive director, Jessica Anne Baron under the title SmartStart Guitar from Hal Leonard Publishing.  Although her books are available commercially, Ms. Baron provides the approach through GITC’s course materials to teachers and participants at no charge.

If you are interested in seeing her books, please feel free to visit her personal page at www.jessicabaron.com. Jess also teaches guitar using the GITC Open G approach at www.jamplay.com.  You can explore that website at no charge for a week by visiting www.jamplay.com/gitc and entering the code GITCFREE.