K-5 Strummers are making music everyday, and creating visual art with GITC newest partner, ArtReach!
Each day in our Summer Strummers Clubs here in San Diego, students in our "Littles" and "Bigs" Summer Strummers Clubs (SSCs) are making art connected to literacy, math, and music. Sometimes this is led by their club leaders, and twice each week, they're engaging in phenomenal group art lessons taught by inspirational art educators who serve with our awesome partner, ArtReach!
We're highlighting some of their visual arts projects here, and we will share everyone's music making in the next blog!
The Collaborative DREAM QUILT Project at Bay Park Elementary,
The Final Dream Quilt at Hage Elememtary
Summer Strummers' Drums, and Making Uke Box Ukes at Bethune and Hage!
At Euclid Elementary, Students Make Art with Ms. Mindy from Dig Down Deep as a part of learning about science through the garden!
Check out what is living in each child's ecosystem!
Students at Foster Elementary Making and Playing Funny Membranophones!
Sparkling Firework Art Brought July 4th Smiles at Nye Elementary!
Exploring the lines, shapes and sculpture with Alexander Calder at Dewey and Hage!
Exploring whole, half, colors, and shapes with Butterfly Art at Nye!
San Diego, CA
Happy June, Friends! In San Diego, thanks to support from the San Diego Foundation in partnership with San Diego Unified School Distric, we have been preparing our third year of Summer Strummers Clubs for children in grades UTK-5. The whole initiative is called Level Up San Diego
This pandemic recovery endeavor is funded by the federal government. It's a massive effort to engage children in joyful learning that will boost their well-being and academic progress.
We're blessed with an immensely dedicated, creative faculty of certificated teachers and student support providers who you'll see in training below. Our tiny staff worked to the exhaustion point to get this huge faculty training and supply disbursement ready on June 11th, and thanks to everyone's efforts, it worked!
We've just finished the first week of Summer Strummers Clubs as of this writing. 440 students have enrolled, our faculty of 45 keeps the student:teacher ratio low, and with help from our volunteers and sponsors, it has all come together for a summer of joyful learning!
Thanks to photographer Ayse Azcan Flanagan, we are sharing the photos below. We'll add more by photographer Binaca James, soon.
Thank you to everyone and each organization helping out for bringing this group of caring individuals together with San Diego childre this summer. Special thanks to our Arts partners, ArtReach, Kids On Stage, and Malashock Dance for giving GITC kids a chance to flourish through artistic learning!
Meet our Staff!
Photography by Ayse Ozcan-Flanagan
Meet Our Directors. Jess Baron and Gail Wingfield
Photography by Binaca James
Meet Our Faculty!
Photography by Ayse Ozcan-Flanagan
Photography by Binaca James
Meet Our Volunteers!
Photography by Ayse Ozcan-Flanagan
View Some of Our Supplies!
Photography by Ayse Ozcan-Flanagan
Photography by Binaca James
Friends, thanks for joining us for this visual journey through some of the many highlights from Guitars & Ukes in the Classroom's services and experiences the past year. We were big on programs, both during and after school, and in the summer, but smaller on gatherings. Like everyone, we are hoping for a healthier and safer 2023 when community events such as our popular house concerts, retreats, and more in-person professional development classes can once again ring out with the sounds of music. Thank you for helping us take such big steps back into teaching in person in 2022!
Glimpses into GITC 2022 Classrooms
Adaptive Music Rocks! Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion & Special Education
Teachers and support staff train with us in Adaptive Music so all students can participate and experience the benefits and beauty of music's transformative power. This is a great adventure! We encourage everyone to release preconceived notions and begin exploring music as organized sound. We start by playing basic beats, rhythms, and patterns using a variety of instruments.
Immense gratitude goes to SDUSD Home Hospital Transistion Supports superstar, Kristy McNamee (below) who teaches at the Bernardy Center for Medically Fragile Children, for teaching adaptive musical tech and keyboard adaptations for inclusion! We are excited to learn more about speech generation devices, and a wide range of intuitive and adaptable music apps.
A truly devoted and fun group of GITC leaders served tirelessly to make yesterday possible including Molly Stewart, Patty Steele, and Gingerlily Lowe (left), and Patty Bertam (right). Talk about managing logistics with love! These gals brought the joy all day long. Thank you so much to these angels.
We also deeply appreciate the outstanding instruction teachers received from the team of Annela Flores and her interns from music therapy providers. Musicworx for teaching drumming & drum circle facilitation for inclusion, special ed, and homebound and hospitalized students!
Three cheers for GITC faculty member and National University's SEL 2021 Teacher of the Year for this region, Ms. Reagan Duncan (left) of Maryland Elementary in Vista, for teaching SEL through Music! I am so fortunate to have had the chance to step in to teach an introductory lesson in adaptive ukulele, and be part of this inspiring team. A second training focusing on SEL with drums and ukes, and music leadership for student and family groups will run on September 24 from 9 am- 12 pm. GITC Teaching Artist Jody Mulgrew will be joining us in person! Seats are still available for 9/24/2022 HERE.
Thank you to Molly Stewart, Gingerlily Lowe, and Reagan Duncan
for sharing the photos in our gallery!
Back in May, 2021, Guitars & Ukes in the Classroom received a mysterious gift from our amazing board member and Education Committee Chair, Dr. Joan Maute. A large square, lightweight package containing 500 beautiful, high quality kazoos made by the Kazoobie Kazoo Company in Beaufort, SC, was about to brighten all of our lives! Joan had sourced these American made, high quality, dishwasher safe kazoos, and we just had to figure out how to integrate them into our work.
Within four weeks, we had an answer! Opportunity knocked with the start of our first Summer Strummers Clubs in San Diego. A little preliminary experimenting taught us that some removeable painters tape stretched across the kazoo bottoms kept all saliva in, and still let the buzzing out, making the kazoos safe to use. So into the clubs these mighty kazoos went, and the kids loved them at first sight. Next step was sharing them with our educators in training.
Total Beginners in our professional development workshops had a blast using the kazoos to hum song melodies. Why? A. No one sounds like the next Beyoncé playing a kazoo. You can sing and just have a good time without anxiety. In the words of Bobby McFerrin, "Don't worry, be happy!"
B. You can improvise a cool instrumental solo without using your fingers!
C. Kazoos can go anywhere and bring joy to the moment. And wow do they get a classroom's attention.
Please check out Kazoobie Kazoos, and if you are teaching in our programs, stay tuned for our Fall Classroom Purchasing Guide with a special discount code for GITC-affiliated teachers and staff.
We are so excited to introduce you to JAMBAR, Guitars in the Classroom’s newest sponsor. Jennifer Maxwell, creator, mom, musician, natural foods baker, and co-founder of the original super popular energy bar PowerBar, has come up with a scrumptious new organic energy bar especially for student who need nutritional support, including music students and athletes! We are so grateful to her friend, musician-poet Don Paul, for introducing GITC to Jennifer. This kind of caring for kids is why GITC continues to serve and grow.
JAMBAR combines innovative proteins, gluten-free ancient grains, real chunks of fruit or premium chocolate, and authentic sweeteners from nature. This is a healthy after school energy booster for students who have had a long day and are heading into extracurricular activities and homework. Jennifer dreamed it up in her kitchen, and now these bars is fantastic natural fruit flavors are in production in San Rafael. Super cool that the food production is housed in the Grateful Dead's old rehearsal studio (pre-kitchen of course). Good vibes abound.
As a musician, a drummer no less, Jennifer understands that musicians need energy to make their beautiful music. She has a big heart for hungy music students, especially those in economically challenging circumstances who may not be able to afford high quality snacks. To provide them with this fun, positive nutritional support, she and JAMBAR are donating 50% of their after-tax profits to help get this REAL FOOD into students' hands.
GITC is an early beneficiary of the “JAMBAR Gives Back” program! JAMBAR made its initial contribution of 588 bars in every flavor to our music education partner, San Francisco Unified School District, so hungry SFUSD music students could experience the benefits. Thank you, Jennifer Maxwell for your incredible generosity!
JAMBAR makes delicious organic energy bars that provide excellent fuel for cyclists of all levels. Since Jennifer and her late husband Brian started making PowerBars in 1985, energy bars have become a go-to, and we can tell you first hand. JAMBAR is head and shoulders above the others. JAMBAR was created with the goal of helping people feel good about the ingredients they put in their bodies, and the positive impact they can have on their local communities. We're so happy they've joined the GITC community to create musical opportunities for ALL learners.
SDCCU Presents the Fourth Quarter 2021
George Chamberlin Community Leadership Award
Guitars & Ukes in the Classroom (GITC) honored for helping others and
making a positive impact in the San Diego community
GITC is a non-profit based in San Diego. Founder and Executive Director, Jess Baron, is an early childhood specialist, music educator, author and songwriter. She shares her profound love of making music with many teachers and students, primarily in Title 1 schools in San Diego and all over the country. Baron knows the power that music can bring to teaching and learning. She is relentlessly dedicated to transforming the next generation by making music accessible to all learners. Baron lives the GITC mission, to expand the role of music in education by training, inspiring and equipping teachers to provide integrated music with cross-curricular learning, with every intentional word choice and action. GITC’s responsive approach educates the whole child through hands-on music making with guitars, ukuleles and educational, collaborative songwriting for academic success.
“We congratulate Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom for being selected as this quarter’s recipient of the 2021 George Chamberlin Community Leadership Award, and celebrate the hard work they do.” said Teresa Campbell, SDCCU president and CEO. “Acknowledging individuals and organizations in our community who dedicate their work to enhancing the lives of those around us is gratifying and impactful for all involved.”
The life of longtime KOGO personality, George Chamberlin was defined by doing the right thing. During his life, George's positive outlook, integrity and generosity touched many people. By doing the right thing day-to-day, George created a legacy that is being honored through the George Chamberlin Leadership Award. Along with his leadership and legacy, Chamberlin was also a renowned financial expert and provided a wealth of financial and business news updates to the Southern California community. Chamberlin presented financial wellness seminars for SDCCU for a number of years, offering his expert insight to help educate members of the community on a variety of topics including budgeting, investments and retirement planning. The community can submit a nomination quarterly at https://kogo.iheart.com/promotions.
To learn more about Guitars & Ukes in the Classroom, please visit guitarsintheclassroom.org.
SDCCU is one of the nation’s top credit unions, proudly serving the financial needs of customers in Southern California counties including Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. SDCCU has assets of $10.7 billion, over 425,000 customers, more than 40 convenient branch locations and 30,000 surcharge-FREE ATMs. SDCCU provides breakthrough banking products that meet the demands of today’s lifestyle and delivers banking services that save customers money. SDCCU is leading the way, offering FREE Checking with eStatements, SDCCU mobile banking, mortgage loans, auto loans, Visa® credit cards and business banking services. Membership required. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Opportunity. NMLS #580585. For more information, visit www.sdccu.com.
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Second grade teacher Monica Dolan was delighted when, during the morning line-up, Camden, a student in her class, looked up at her with shining eyes and said, “Today we are having uke class!” The children around him echoed his enthusiasm. They all remembered this was the day GITC’s teaching artist was coming for the classroom’s weekly residency visit. Everyone was excited to write songs and play their ukuleles again.
As a woman of color, Monica’s childhood experiences were similar to those of many of the 2nd graders she teaches today. She always wanted to take music lessons but her family had no money to spare and there was no access to elementary arts education in her school. Music remained absent from her life until she found GITC as a veteran educator in 2020. For the past 2 years she has been learning to play the ukulele with GITC and to lead hands-on music in her classroom.
During her own school years, Monica did well in school but felt that a college education was out of reach because of her family's economic situation. She worked after school and summers to help support her family. After high school she started taking classes at a community college and later was accepted to San Diego State University. By working her way through school, and with the help of scholarships, student loans, and financial aid, she became the first person in her family to graduate from college.
Even though Monica’s longing to learn the guitar remained a dream, after she married and started raising a family she considered it her responsibility as a parent to provide her own children with musical opportunities. Her son and daughter both learned to play the clarinet and joined the band at school.
Monica has been a classroom teacher in Title 1 schools for the past 27 years. At the start of the pandemic, she heard that another teacher at her school was bringing music to her classroom with GITC. She was hesitant to try it herself because she thought it was too challenging to learn to play an instrument. Then a personal tragedy struck, and the need to do something positive provided the necessary motivation to move ahead with music. She asked herself, “Do I wait even longer to do something I’ve always wanted to do?” The other teacher, Gingerlily Lowe, was in training with GITC, and she encouraged her to sign up for a GITC course. Monica says she knew she was “not a young chick” but she wanted to push herself out of her comfort zone and take the advice she gives her students daily: try.
With Gingerlily’s support, Monica signed up for a GITC course. She did it for herself, and also because she believed it would make her a better teacher, capable of bringing an element of creativity and fun to the students in her virtual classroom. She started by learning the ukulele in a free GITC after-school Total Beginner course online.
Monica’s favorite phrase, developed from her own efforts, is, “We’re not going to cry, we’re going to try.” As a language learner herself, she knows it’s important to have a growth mindset and grit when working towards a goal. She decided to learn deliberately, at her own pace. This was a perfect match for the GITC approach in which learning to make music is meant to be a pleasurable journey, not a race. She took GITC’s Total Beginner course twice and practiced on her own. Now she is taking the GITC Experienced Beginner course. Monica says she is getting better little by little, and she is loving the adventure!
During the pandemic Monica participated in two GITC co-teaching artist residencies in her online classroom with GITC teaching artist, Sharon DuBois. Thanks to support from the San Diego Unified School District’s VAPA department, GITC was able to obtain ukuleles for all her students so they could play and sing together while socially distanced at home. Music became the best part of their day and a way to stay engaged and have fun. It brought joy to her students and light to her own life.
The last time her second grade students had a normal school year, they were in kindergarten. Now that they are back in the classroom, Monica finds music more important than ever for boosting recovery from very significant pandemic learning loss. She leads music three times a week with her students, playing ukulele and writing songs with them to further academic learning in many subjects. Recently, she was delighted to overhear her students talking together about how to plug their favorite math strategies into songwriting. They asked her if the class could make up a song about math, with each student writing a verse about the strategy of their choosing. Of course, she said yes!
Monica is determined to make sure that music is not out of reach for her students, as it was for her. "Art and music give children the opportunity to shine." she said. “Exposure to music through GITC can create a musical connection, making it possible for my students to take it a step further as they grow.”
For herself, Monica feels very fortunate. She loves her job, loves teaching, and her students are amazing. “It can be overwhelming, yes, but I embrace the constant chaos.” She is grateful to be supported by the GITC faculty who make her feel that wherever she is in her musical journey is ok, and is a step forward to becoming more proficient. And what’s the next GITC course she plans to take?
Next, she’s going to learn the guitar.
Many students participated in both morning and afternoon activities intended to restore joy and inspire a passion for returning to learning. Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom (GITC) was honored and excited to be among the first organizations included in this opportunity, made possible because of grant support from The San Diego Foundation. Thanks to the local partnership, we were able to provide music instruction integrated with arts and crafts and literacy enrichment on seven SDUSD summer school campuses, as well as online for students ages 3 through 18. We called our programs Summer Strummers Clubs so students felt a sense of belonging to something special… and parents are reporting that they really did!
Mrs. Seney also helped each student create a “Strumming Flat Stanley” - a paper cutout inspired by the Jeff Brown children’s book series Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures Students were encouraged to take photos of their Strumming Flat Stanley at various locations around town or on family outings and share them with the group. “The kids love to see Stanley out and about, even if he’s just at Starbucks,” she explains.
Mrs. Seney has also enjoyed her role as a Summer Strummers Club Leader. “It was something so different and healing for all of us.”