JAMBAR – THE NEW ORGANIC ENERGY BAR THAT SUPPORTS MUSIC STUDENTS!
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
The Green Songbook features Nancy Shimmel's wonderful song,
"Every Third Bite"
which joyfully raises awareness of how bees contribute to the earth's ecology, making it possible for plants of all kinds
living creatures everywhere.
please explore these resources below.
Re-Homing a Wild Hive video
Honeylove Be-Rehoming in Santa Monica
San Diego Bee Re-Homing Expert
Colony Collapse Disroder Progress Report, 2020
moving a live colony and their beehive safely out of his roof!
By Abby Dorsey
Miss Duncan is the ideal person to talk to her students about changing the world, as she herself is currently shifting the culture of her entire public elementary school in Vista, California towards making music. After a chance meeting on a San Diego street corner with Guitars in the Classroom’s founder Jess Baron, Miss Duncan signed up to take her first ukulele class. She was immediately smitten.
“I’d been looking for this thing -- something that would help me shift my students’ trajectory in life, ” she explains. “My school has the highest number of homeless students in the district. Many of my students are English language learners. My biggest hope is always to shift their trajectory with small, positive changes. Even if it’s just three degrees, it has the power to change their lives when they are adults.”
Miss Duncan found the effects of the ukulele to be just that -- life changing. Just as she started her GITC training, the pandemic hit, and she was forced to make the transition to distance learning with a whole new set of challenges. How would she keep first graders engaged over Zoom? How could she convince six year olds to show up to class online when school attendance was already a challenge for them before COVID-19? The answer, it turns out, was right in her hands.
“I started playing ukulele and singing songs with my students virtually last spring and immediately noticed that my language learners were picking up words faster with music,” she explains. “So when distance learning continued this fall, I decided that even though I was still teaching virtually, I was going to teach my kids to play the uke, and they couldn’t just watch -- they needed it in their hands!”
Reagan put a call out on Facebook for friends to help her fund instruments for the students to play at home, and in about a week, she had enough donations to empower GITC to provide a ukulele for every child in her class with subsidized support from Kala Brand Music, one of Guitars in the Classroom’s enduring sponsors.
“Both attendance and participation are higher because the music helps keep kids engaged. We pick our ukes up throughout our lessons each day to practice grammar, syntax, basic structure and punctuation. It translates so well into language arts and brings new vocabulary into their world through song. I never feel like I’m wasting my time as a teacher when I add music to my lessons.”
Neither, it seems, do other educators at Miss Duncan’s school.
Since starting her training with GITC, Reagan has inspired sixteen more Maryland Elementary staff members (including the school psychologist, school nurse, and both special education teachers) to enroll in the program. This January everyone is taking one of GITC’s Total Beginner or AMAISE for Beginners courses!
We’re pretty sure they’re going to get there.
Spreading the Joy
Of course, Miss Duncan isn’t stopping with just recruiting teachers from other classes; she’s also actively fundraising to start student ukulele clubs for each grade level. She hopes that the model her school is building will serve as a point of inspiration and reference for other schools in the district. She already raised donations to empower GITC to provide 14 beautiful concert sized Tanglewood Tiare ukes through GITC’s partnership with Korg’s Educational Division called SoundTree. These larger instruments are wonderful for the 4th and 5th graders who are starting a ukulele club in person, socially distanced, outside next week!
“I found love and passion for playing the ukulele and teaching with it,” shares Reagan, “and now I’m helping to create a culture of music and learning through song with my colleagues and our Maryland Elementary students,” she explains. “It brings me so much joy to see the kids enjoying it, and when someone feels inspired, it’s contagious. THIS is the virus I want people to catch! I want them to catch the musical bug and be excited, and just keep doing it!”
Support Miss Duncan's Ukulele Clubs HERE!
“When I walked into Julia’s class, kids were engaged and singing. The energy was different and I wanted to stay,” Mrs. R explains. She decided to ask about the music and learned that Mrs. Cole had trained with Guitars in the Classroom (GITC), a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to use guitars and ukuleles to facilitate learning across all subjects. Her interest was piqued. “I thought maybe it could be a way for my students, many of whom were learning English as a second language, to be more engaged.”
“Jenny caught on very quickly,” explains Mrs. Cole. “She would come pick the kids up with her uke and sing up and down the hall. I could tell she had a love and a knack for it.”
In fact, Mrs. R had such a love for it that when the pandemic hit and the school year ended, she convinced her husband to take Mrs. Cole’s summer GITC class online with her. They strummed through the summer together, thinking the fall would bring a return to “normal” life. That return never came. Instead, Mrs. R learned that district funding for Reading Intervention had been cut and she would be returning to work in the fall as a third grade instructor teaching online.
It didn’t take long for panic to set in. But then Mrs. R remembered one very important tool she now had in her toolkit -- her GITC training! Using her own funds, she purchased ukuleles and tuners for her entire class and quickly got to work.
At first it looked like students might return to in-person class, so Mrs. R. held back on distributing the ukuleles. She played her ukulele during class time transitions and sang a morning song each day -- even on tough days when she struggled and made mistakes.
“I really want them to know learning is hard. It’s a process, and adults make mistakes too,” she explains. “We were talking about empathy and I found the song Lean On Me to play for them. It was a challenge and I told them I was nervous to play it. It’s important that they know that things are hard for adults too. The truth is, no matter what I do, they are always excited and clapping.”
Students were so excited by the music that a few who already had ukuleles at home began staying online after school hours to play and sing with their teacher. One student went as far as cutting a ukulele out of paper just so she could join the fun! But now that distance learning appears to be a more permanent arrangement, Mrs. R is preparing to distribute ukuleles to her students. She knows that they need the music now more than ever, as do their families.
“When I had virtual back-to-school night, one of the dads saw my ukulele and he loved it. I think it’s something different and unexpected during this time when everyone is stressed about everything,” she explains. “I am definitely getting parents wandering over during class time and peeking in because it’s a different feeling than just playing background music. Even if I’m doing a bad job singing, it’s important for me to have a personal connection with the kids. It’s my way of saying ‘I know we’re not together, but I’m still here.’”
“She sparked a light in me,” Mrs. Cole explains. “She’s bringing GITC to her students and their families and it’s truly inspiring.”
Mrs. R agrees that the bonds that form between GITC teachers are both strong and special. “I think what’s so neat, especially with teachers, is that when I go to Julia for help and I take another step, then that encourages her to take another step, and so on. And even though trying something new can feel scary, it’s worth the risk to feel a part of something [like GITC]. The reward is that we’re learning something and we’re sharing it together.”
Music Levels the Playing Field: TK-Kindergarten Teacher Patti Steele Hits a Home Run with Her Ukulele
Like many GITC teachers,
Ms. Steele began the school year strumming and singing with her students in person as part of their everyday curriculum at Paradise Hills Elementary School in San Diego, California. But when the pandemic caused school closures, the class was forced to pivot online -- and if you can picture how difficult it is to keep a room full of kindergarteners engaged and learning in person, imagine the challenge of doing it over Zoom! Ms. Steele jokingly refers to her first weeks online as “a nightmare” but the technical challenges and the struggle to engage students through computers was anything but funny. Class attendance dropped and Ms. Steele feared she would lose track of some of her students. That is, until she reached for her ukulele!
Ms. Steele was tapping into something that many GITC teachers are witnessing in online classrooms -- the power that music holds to engage students and increase focus and fun in distance learning settings. With all the boxes and buttons, Zoom sessions can feel impersonal or even uncomfortable for young learners. Add tech or language barriers and things get even more complicated. Music has the power to break through these barriers, or as Patti Steele puts it, to level the playing field.
Siblings, parents, grandparents, and pets began to join in the fun, too. When the class wrote a song about COVID to the tune of Wheels On the Bus, family members pitched in ideas. And at age 64, veteran teacher Ms. Steele felt like she was getting to know her students on a whole new level.
“It was such a nice inside picture into their families,” she explains. “In one family, all the siblings had ukuleles and they would all sit lined up, on the couch with this huge cat, and play together. It was great. I learned so many things I didn’t know about them.”
Ms. Steele is also using the pandemic as an opportunity to expand her own GITC training, with a current focus on guitar.
She may love strumming her guitar, but what is Ms. Steele most looking forward to when classes resume online in just a few weeks? Ukulele time with her students, of course!
“I can use the ukulele in every subject and that’s the thing that’s great about it,” she explains. “It’s the thing I’m most excited about. It’s my highlight. And even if I retire, I still plan to volunteer with the teachers at my school to keep GITC going. I will help the young teachers coming in and say, “I’ll sit with you in class. I’ll tune your ukes. I’m just here to help you.’ I want to do something to take away the obstacles they think are in their way. So many avenues open up through music that we don’t even know about. It levels the playing field and brings people together -- especially now, when there is so much divide.”
Check out these great photos of Patti Steele's class: