What We Teach
Thank you for joining us here at Guitars in the Classroom. We are a twelve-year-old non-profit based in California that supports teachers to discover their musical potential all around the country in
grassroots, school-based programs. GITC teaches anyone working with children in an educational setting to make, lead and constructively integrate music making into every kind of lesson. All it takes is desire, time, a great trainer, and funding to get a program started. The supplies come free, as do loaner guitars for teachers because this work is supported by gifts from the companies who make musical products. They want teachers to succeed.
What We Teach
The GITC approach is called “Music Integration” because in GITC classrooms, academic learning is accomplished through song-based instruction and musical activities.
GITC is different than a traditional music class. It happens in the general classroom. Students sing, keep the beat, create new lyrics, perform their songs for other students and, in many cases, participate in hands-on guitar experiences as part of general studies. All of this occurs as part of learning lessons in language arts, social studies, math, science, health, and the arts. This approach extends also to speech and language therapy, library learning and school counseling as well.
We teach simple songs that appeal easily to children in grades K-5 and that can be easily applied to teaching any subject and enjoyed by students at every grade level.
Teachers learn to write new lyrics to familiar melodies to help students engage in and remember lessons. We call these new lyrics, Lyrics for Learning.
Teachers and others attend weekly classes in six to eight week sessions, and classes may be offered in any or all of three trimesters- fall, winter and spring- each school year. Teachers are welcome to enroll as many times as they wish.
We categorize songs by their musical forms as they relate to the processing of embedded cognitive information. GITC trains teachers to apply these specific song forms to teaching lessons based on the kind of learning each form best imparts. GITC believes teachers enjoy their work a lot more when they are given the freedom to get creative. So, rather than providing one content standard that a science song might teach, we help the teacher see how a Whole to Parts song can be creatively rewritten to teach any science standard that involves students learning a whole concept and its parts in detail. This keeps the teaching process CREATIVE instead of becoming a cookie cutter curriculum. The list of song forms is long and fascinating. Some forms expand auditory memory of facts while others engage students physically, which is of special benefit to English Learners and children with disabilities.
Once teachers know what their lesson objectives are, they can select a song form and write lyrics for learning for or with their students.
No Experience Necessary
Participants need have NO prior musical training. Shower singers and dancers with two left feet feel right at home with GITC. This is a music do-over for lots of us.
Beginning in Open G (Taro Patch) tuning, teachers and others acquire the essential tools of making music and playing guitar- rhythm, pitch, melody and musical dynamics. We go slowly and have fun.
Our pedagogy is based loosely on Orff Schulwerk and incorporates elements also of the work of Zoltan Kodaly and the physical music integration of Phyllis Weikart.
Once teachers are comfortable and capable of playing guitar fluidly in Open G, they are invited to make a gentle and successful transition to playing guitar in standard tuning.
The guitar approach has been developed by GITC’s founder and executive director, Jessica Anne Baron, under the title SmartStart Guitar from Hal Leonard Publishing. Ms. Baron teaches using the GITC guitar approach at www.jamplay.com. The work has developed significantly since the publication of the SmartStart Guitar series and GITC participants receive their essential educational materials from GITC at no charge.
The Heart and Soul of GITC
The foundation of GITC’s compassionate and non-perfectionistic developmental approach to cultivating musicality is founded on the work of Abraham Maslow, Erik Erikson, D.W. Winnicott and Heinz Kohut.
By respecting the beginner’s process, GITC treats musical learning as personal process and a medium for growing creativity, self confidence and awareness, compassion, connection to others and community.
GITC promotes music making for emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development and for self actualization in teachers and students alike!
GITC offers first-time adult musicians a chance to embrace the experience of learning something new and exciting in a supportive environment. We encourage new music leaders to share their musical learning with students, courageously modeling the learning process and bringing the students along on this creative journey.
Learning to make and lead music becomes a game changer for a lot of teachers and their students because learning itself becomes a source of happiness and engagement. GITC takes the focus off perfection and competition and puts it on what we can create in the moment. So mistakes are not stumbling blocks, but stepping stones to more success on our musical journey. Amazingly, when we arrive at our musical destination, it is absolutely breathtaking!
GITC invites anyone working with children in a learning environment to take part in our free classes. The more the merrier, and the more music we can share, the better school gets for thousands of students.