January means just two things in the GITC office...winter programs and The NAMM Show! Put on annually in Anaheim, CA by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), this is the music products industry’s largest trade show. Manufacturers and distributors of every sort of musical instrument, accessory or music education publishing from around the world come to show their latest products to music retailers, and a fortunate group of music educators and music nonprofit leaders. The show is closed to the public, so attending is a privilege. It spreads across the whole Convention Center/Disneyland region of the city each January!
One of the most important opportunities for our non-profit is to receive an education in the latest strategies to advocate and fund music education. A small team of program managers with GITC attended the NAMM Foundation's Coalition on Coalitions to learn about the E.S.S.A. mandate for music as part of a "well rounded education" and to hear about strategies and successes accessing Title IV funding to support music in the schools. NAMM Foundation Director, Mary Luehrsen led an outstanding panel of experts coaching music education leaders from across the country on ways we can support schools to provide more robust music education programs.
As a grateful NAMM Foundation grant recipient organization, GITC participates in Music Education Days at the NAMM Show every year. We view this powerful event as an opportunity to gather our faculty trainers and teaching artists for a time of collaborative learning and sharing. Several staff members and key volunteers help out, too.
Over the course of four days, we attend NAMM Foundation workshops for nonprofits and classes or events for music teachers. Also, as part of our annual pilgrimmage to the show, we hold a special breakfast event during which we thank the many incredible advocates, volunteers and music sponsors who support our mission to make music accessible for all students. We are so grateful to board member, Judy Roberts for making this annual celebration possible! Keep scrolling to learn more about that event.
In this photo above, taken at the Martin Guitar booth, you are looking at (L to R) GITC Teaching Artist in LAUSD, Maria Ochoa, GITC Outstanding Faculty Trainer Dan Decker, Blues artist Kenny Sultan, Martin's awesome Mari Groller, GITC founder Jess Baron, and Martin Guitar visual artist, Robert Goetzl.
Robert created the artwork for the gorgeous new David Crosby Tribute Guitar. Martin Guitars was one of GITC's founding sponsors and has helped us build our work in schools for almost two decades!
Learning and visiting are not the only things we do at the show. We also hold our annual face to face board meeting, and we participate at the NAMM Foundation Grand Rally for Music Education! Each year, it's a jaw-dropping artistic experience. Last year, we heard from the irreducible Todd Lundgren! This year the event started with a delightful performance from the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, followed by a stunning interactive performance by Bobby McFerrin and Gimme 5! Check out this great recap video by Jimmy Edwards -- you may even spot a few familiar GITC faces at the Grand Rally!
We all felt inspired by NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen’s passionate message about the power of music education to change lives and build human connection. Here she is with the directors past and present of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, Peter and Paul Luongo. She made a great joke about the three of them being Peter, Paul and Mary!
Of course, one of the most special parts of NAMM is reconnecting with GITC supporters and sponsors who return to the show year after year.
GITC Executive Director, Jess Baron, makes time throughout the show to visit with individuals who have gone out of their way to support GITC’s mission. Chris Meikle of Alvarez Guitars is an avid supporter of music education and music therapy. He is committed to helping us establish services this year in the St. Louis schools with GITC Faculty Trainer Terrie Catlow! A designer, engineer and business wiz with a very full plate, Chris always takes time to check in, brainstorm, and offer support.
One of the pleasures and privileges of being at The NAMM Show is experiencing the innovation and creativity of the engineers, designers and builders of instruments, accessories and new music technology.
Our faculty has a chance to explore how specific instruments might be useful in classrooms, and hospital or home settings for medically fragile students, and in music education. Our questions are welcomed and we learn so much! Abby Dorsey, Director of Media & Outreach, was in ukulele heaven at Kala Brand Music, while Dan Decker and Felicia Fis enjoyed a hands on demonstration of digital music technology of the Jamstik. We also popped in over at Korg Education to find Tiffany Stalker sharing the GITC SmartStart Ukulele Method Book for Beginners along with their Tiare ukuleles with interested visitors. Tiffany co-authored this book with Jess Baron and we now use it in all of our beginner level classes!
Of course, our favorite part of NAMM is the GITC Annual Friends & Sponsors Breakfast which takes place annually on NAMM Sunday at the Red Lion Hotel. This year’s breakfast was packed with friends, sponsors and musicians who were excited to share their love of GITC over a warm bowl of oatmeal. Jess Baron also presented awards of recognition to Uke Like the Pro’s Terry Carter (Sponsor of the Year), Dan Decker (Outstanding Faculty Trainer of the Year), Dunlop Manufacturing’s Jasmin Powell (Sustaining Sponsorship Award) and Joan Maute (Outstanding Board Service). Director of GITC Special Education Services, Desiree Cera, gave a short and powerful presentation on the impact of GITC’s Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education (AMAISE) Program and GITC teacher, Teresa Adams, shared her original problem-solving song she calls "There Are Four Things I Can Do."
The breakfast ended with a lively group jam session -- and likely a second or third cup of coffee for all! Please scroll down for a full slideshow of photos from the breakfast...
GITC would like to thank all of you teachers, specialists, principals, volunteers, board members, artists, donors and sponsors who have contributed to an awesome 2020 NAMM experience! And yes, these are the new T-shirts! We debuted them at the breakfast and we will be figuring out how to make them available online soon!
Got stories to share, questions, ideas, requests? Please feel free write to us at email@example.com or call the office (619) 578-2326!
We received a wonderful note in December from Mr. Bernstein (Mr. B. for short), the enthusiastic principal of Morningside Elementary School in San Fernando, CA. We will share that note below, but first a little background…
This Los Angeles Unified School is one of the oldest in the district. It has 620 students in grades K-5 with a student-teacher ratio of 24 to 1. According to state test scores, 31% of students are proficient in math and 32% in reading. 96% of the students are Hispanic and just one in six are classified as English Learners. The school has a high percentage of students living at or below the poverty line. The academic success of this school speaks well of the students, their families and the teachers.
I met Mr. B this fall when he stepped in to lead the school. He has an optimistic spirit, loves music, and is all about bringing creativity to his students and faculty. Despite the challenges that people experience each day in low income schools, everyone I met was smiling and generating hope and love in their work. The spirit of grit, optimism and dedication is alive and well there and they have the right guy in charge!
Mr. B jumped into GITC with both feet! The day I turned up with ukuleles, he was opening the garage and personally lugging the boxes up to the office. When teachers gathered for a faculty meeting the next week, he asked who wanted to learn to play, sing, compose lyrics for learning and teach through the power of song and 20 hands went up!
Thanks to his advocacy, we launched the after-school training class with our faculty trainer, Miss Kristen, and this led to our being able to designate funding for teaching artist residencies paid for by a generous grant from the NAMM Foundation. For 10 weeks, Ms. Shiri was able to work one on one with highly engaged classroom teachers to impart the GITC approach and music education activities so they can carry on independently this year. All of this happened between October and today! Now in February, we will be offering a new level of training and Morningside Elementary has become a GITC Flagship school- one that sets an example for possibilities and success. We are so grateful to everyone there who is participating, especially Ms. Maria.
Ms. Maria teaches transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, and she had voluntarily been attending GITC PDs and our Teacher Retreat for 3 years on her own! In our book, she is an unsung hero and deserves a great song. Her actions speak to the power of one individual to change the world. Her passion led to all of her colleagues and students in the region having a chance to bring music to learning every day.
This is the note I recently received from Mr. B. sharing about his visit to a GITC residency classroom:
“I went to Mr. G.’s class today because it was the last day with Ms. Shiri for GITC. They invited parents to come in at 10:40 AM. The room was filled with parents, smiles, and engaged students. All of it was happening in the name of developing, honoring, and respecting a love for music and music education.
Goosebumps, clarity, and a renewed sense of purpose. I was floored. Just beautiful.
Thank you for creating what you have created and giving us the opportunity to benefit and share in your creation.
We are fortunate indeed.”
He also shared these photos with permission from everyone in them.
This is the magic GITC is unfolding around the country. Where there is a school in need, a supportive leader and enthusiastic teachers ready to embrace music as a teaching approach and learning modality, we want to serve. Because of YOU, we can.
Thank you for your gifts, your care and the value you place on the Arts as a vital part of every student’s education. We applaud and celebrate you!