Want to lead a short, productive, inclusive and joyful music experience in your online classroom? This How-To blog will help you make the process simple and goof-proof.
Leading your students in a song online each day can bring them together, establishing a sense of belonging, happiness and normalcy. Done the GITC way, each student can participate, feeling valued and “heard” while hearing others. Together, your students can collaborate and support each other to create something enjoyable. In the face of disruptions, bad news and stress at home, this can do a world of good. You can be the bringer of this goodness.
Bye-Bye, Perfection. None of us are trying to win a contest. We are teachers and we want to bring music to our students. They are so eager to make music, they appreciate our efforts.
So let's relax, have fun, and show the kids we can all make music. They need it. They need you to lead it.
Having the courage to strum and sing on camera will model creative risk taking for them, and will build your skills. You can ask the students for encouragement, be open and honest, and then take the plunge! Remember to mute them while you are leading so you can concentrate. Then unmute them selectively to check for understanding and facilitate class discussions.
Your students will need to learn online classroom ground rules and etiquette just like they do at school. Without being in the same physical space, and with tech at their fingertips, they need to know what is and is not okay, how to get your attention appropriately, how to respond to peers. This is all preliminary learning. We hope someone writes a song about this! Taking time to establish the order of communication operations will help so much in this regard.
Going easy on yourself and them emotionally is important because stressors are high, so rules matter but putting them across with love will work wonders. Right now students need to connect, breathe, find their friends and relax together. Teaching academic content through songs gets easier once students feel seen, heard, safe and connected. So let’s start making music to lower stress and achieve social-emotional wellness. Once this is established, content learning can happen. We’ll get to that in a future blog.
This first GITC blog will lay-out a simple process with clear, sequential instructions to unite your students through song. To assure you songleading success and help you as the online tech “pilot” our team has created this list to steps and tips so you might have a smooth experience. We recommend following the steps in order.
STEP ONE, TACKLE YOUR TECH
Like any online teaching, the first step is to know your online platform. Learning can only happen when tech is working for everyone. You will want to be able to accomplish many things well before you have to "pilot the ship."
LEARN TO SET IT UP Know how to set up your meeting. Do you want to use a secret password and share it with invitees? Can you lock down your online session to exclude any surprise unwanted visitors? Does your platform have break-out rooms for student groups to meet? Do you have screen sharing or a white board? Think ahead to what tools you will want to use, and take the time to get this in place. Only then, send your invitation out.
FINE TUNE YOUR OWN CAMERA AND MIC. Have a look on your own computer screen to make sure your students will be able to see your face, hands and musical instrument and to hear your voice.
TRY OUT YOUR VISUAL and AUDIO TOOLS If you are teaching on a platform that does not allow you to share your screen and you are working on a PC, we recommend installing and setting up open source software OBS Studio. It gives you a nice range of visual options. Practice screen sharing between a song chart/lyric sheet on your screen, and you. The students will benefit from seeing both. If you cannot screen share, ask a parent to assist you by putting the song chart up on THEIR screen.
PLAN YOUR MUSIC SESSION! CHOOSE HOW and WHEN TO INCLUDE MUSIC.
Think about the role you want music to play. Will you open class with a song? Finish with one? Or insert a song partway into a lesson to enrich the learning experience? This will help you choose songs and time the music making.
Leading even 5 minutes of music makes a very significant difference for students in their mood, motivation and self confidence So what will you need to get ready?
BEGIN WITH A WELCOME SONG
Select a familiar participatory song to welcome students. We recommend a name song or a song the children know that makes them happy. Whatever you choose, let it be one you know well enough to get through without forgetting.
PREPARE A QUICK RHYTHM WARM UP
Use clapping patterns to get kids listening to your instructions and tuning into playing together. Initiate a series of short clapping patterns and after each one, cue the students to copy you. Play them with a faster or slower tempo. Next give individual students a turn to lead a clapping pattern and have their peers copy them. The students will enjoy seeing each other and interacting this way together.
CHOOSE A SPECIAL SONG TO SHARE
This song can be something new or something familiar. Find one you feel fairly confident in singing and strumming. Simple is okay. Or you may want to teach a new song!
HOLD YOUR MUSIC TIME
As our country and much of the planet adjusts to the “new normal” of sheltering in place, many GITC teachers are adjusting to the new reality of teaching and learning online. GITC Board Director of Education, Joan Maute, trains teachers at Laurel Elementary School of Arts & Technology in Fort Collins Colorado. She started her semester as usual, teaching Monday evening face-to-face classes with an enthusiastic group of educators including the school's inspirational principal. Then COVID-19 hit and the class was forced to pivot and transition to an online classroom.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, honestly,” Joan explains. “I sent an email to the group saying that we were switching to online instruction and that we’d be meeting at the same time as we had our face-to-face class. I told them that if they had time, I’d love to see them in class but there was no pressure. And you know what? They are ALL showing up now, two weeks in a row!”
Joan has successfully transitioned the class to meeting on JamPlay.com, the finest online hub for GITC instruction. The link about takes you to the registration for GITC teachers and students who are being generously offered a free 3-month membership to JamPlay. Members can choose from a variety of daily live classes, as well as from a series of 66 pre-recorded, sequential guitar lessons taught by GITC founder, Jessica Baron.
Google Chrome is the required browser to navigate well at JamPlay.com. The code to register as one of our teachers or students is GITC3.
Of course, transitioning from in-person strumming to a world of webcams and chat-rooms can be daunting for some and the learning curve is real. GITC faculty trainers and participating teachers and school staff members are rising to the occasion and working through the bumps together.
“I’m learning,” says Joan. “I’m learning how to get the right angles on camera and learning to adapt. What we do first is go around and check in -- most are comfortable checking in by video but not all. I tell them either is fine. Then when we are moving on to our first song, I ask if they are ready, and if they are, they put an exclamation point in the chat. It’s fun to see all the exclamation points pop up. They can also put a question mark in the chat if they have a question. It’s kind of a balancing act, trying to do the teaching AND follow what’s happening in the chat, but it’s also funny because sometimes the teachers will answer each other’s questions.”
Kindergarten teacher, Emily Anderson, says the online platform took some getting used to but is now easy to manage. “I like that we can all be on mute and practicing as we need without everyone listening,” she explains. “We have the option to share when we are ready.”
Fourth grade teacher, Catherine Thomsen is using the experience as an opportunity to grow and challenge herself. “I had a hard time getting into the site initially, however that was my issue,” Catherine explains. “Also, I have had to really work to overcome the fact that online learning is not the best mode for me. That was even true when I was in college. This is an opportunity for me to gain more confidence in this learning environment.”
Participants are quickly learning, however, that online classes provide something even more important than the lessons themselves, and that is the innate human connection that comes along with playing music together.
“It is a great outlet, a great way to still collaborate with others, and a nice break in my remote teaching day when it is something just for me,” explains Emily.
Catherine Thomsen agrees. “Music offers hope and is a universal language we can all connect with. It helps to calm fears and anxiety.”
Joan Maute is enjoying watching her students challenge themselves, support one another, and grow in their musicianship. She is also seeing the magical effects GITC programming is having on some of the family members quarantining with her students!
“Last week, one of the teachers -- her kids are home -- so she and her son wrote an amazing song about Corona [virus] and it had a great line like ‘when it’s all over, we’ll hug, hug, hug!’ And she was playing and singing and her two sons were singing backup for her. It was amazing!” gushes Joan.
So is she in it for the long haul? Absolutely! “There’s really great interaction,” she continues. “It’s so good to see everyone’s names pop up in the chat. Even if we’re just seeing people’s names, it’s just good to be together.”
Click HERE to see a larger version of the full updated schedule of GITC online classes.
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!
This year, GITC is receiving its first ever Operating Support grant from the City of San Diego. We are exceptionally grateful to the Commission for Arts and Culture and to all the volunteer grant panelists who gave GITC the highest possible score on our application for the current fiscal year. This grant is allowing us to provide better staffing in the office in ways that help our faculty members deliver instructional services in San Diego schools.
In addition to this profoundly helpful “OSP” grant, GITC also applied for specific CPPS grant support in districts where our work in schools in those neighborhoods need additional funding in order to meet the needs of the students. We have been blessed by receiving program dollars to help out in Districts 1, 3 and 4 this year.
What will happen as a result? Bird Rock Elementary kindergarten teacher, Lorraine Turner taught her first GITC Beginner class this fall at La Jolla Elementary, a school located far away from any programs we have held in the past. That program trained 26 early childhood and primary grade teachers to sing, strum, and write songs for early literacy and social emotional skills. Now Lorraine has big goals for 2020.
“I want to continue to bring music into classrooms because I think it’s so valuable. With arts programs being pushed out of many schools around the country, GITC is such a great way to bring music to children,” she explains.
Lorraine not only implements GITC in her own kindergarten classroom; this fall she will also spread the work by teaching other teachers the fundamentals of making and leading integrated music! Next, she will continue the work with a new group of teachers at Bird Rock Elementary. Each Monday afternoon, she will continue to guide new GITC beginner teachers through a vocal warm-up and basic ukulele chord instruction while introducing a new musical concept and putting it into practice. Then she will lead the teachers through collaborative group songwriting geared to reinforcing learning of mutually agreed-upon curricular content.
She describes GITC classes as taking place in a “no risk environment,” where everyone is welcome to learn, make mistakes, and grow together. “I explain that there is no pressure here and we are all learning,” Lorraine says. “I tell them that I am learning, too.”
Lorraine’s class is the first of its kind for La Jolla, an area that is new to GITC programming. The class was made possible through City funding. Council President Pro Tem and mayoral candidate, Barbary Bry in District One had this to say about GITC’s work:
“I’m proud our city supports Guitars in the Classroom after-school teacher trainings and family music time. Their work is crucial in helping to promote learning and to equip students with the skills and confidence needed to achieve long-term academic and emotional success.”
This thumbs up from District 1 is also making it possible for two highly engaged GITC classroom teachers and their students at La Jolla Elementary to learn with GITC teaching artist and jazz musician, Sharon DuBois, a lifelong musician who describes her style as “Evolutionary Jazz.” Sharon will co-teach and coach primary grade teachers Ms. Dyer and Ms. Rice with their students to deepen literacy and language learning through strumming, singing, and composing songs for learning using traditional Blues and folk music forms. These 10-week residencies will culminate in student informances, sharing their new knowledge, abilities and compositions with others.
“I’m excited to get started,” she explains. “Through GITC I received one of David Broza’s One Million Guitars, which means I get to play it for a year and then pass it on to a student who shows potential. I’m so excited about that! I’m also looking forward to incorporating some jazz into the GITC program, which is predominantly folk-based.”
Whatever 2020 has in store, it definitely includes growth, expansion, and a whole lot of strumming and singing in classrooms throughout San Diego! The best part? “The teachers are loving it,” says Lorraine Turner. “They know four chords so far and they are already songwriting! This is very quick learning for adults who are coming to music making at this time in their lives. I’m so impressed by their creativity. GITC really is something special.”
Dear friends, please meet the AMAISE-ing Terry Tasby.
As you probably know, AMAISE stands for Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education. When Terry started coming to GITC classes, there was no such thing. Dedicated and caring teachers like her are the reason we took on the charge of developing a distinct and comprehensive approach to adapting music instruction for students whose needs span a wide array of medical, cognitive, behavioral, neurological and psychological conditions.
My name is Gail Wingfield and I am the Programs Manager for Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom. At the GITC AMAISE conference in October, I had the opportunity to chat at length with special education teacher Terry Tasby. She works with special needs preschoolers in the Los Angeles Unified School District and is passionate about making a difference for her students, her school, and her community. Even though the recent conference was for teachers in San Diego Unified, Terry made the journey to join teachers here and help out.
GITC Founder, Director Jess Baron introduced me to Terry and asked that I get to know her better. "She is always here with a smile, ready to learn, explore and assist, " Jess told me. "Let's find out where all that passion and dedication comes from. Terry is very special!" Fortunately the conference, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts gave me a chance to watch Terry in action and visit with her at length.
When I asked Terry how she became a Special Education teacher she laughed and said that throughout her career she always comes to something “backside first” - she takes an unconventional path to arrive where she is meant to be. We find this is the case with many people who become special educators, resource teachers or music therapists. They tend to discover the importance of the work and their own propensity to innovate.
Terry grew up in Southern California and she was marching to the beat of her own drum even as a teen. When she graduated from high school she rebelled against parental expectations and went into the workforce instead of continuing her education. After a number of years in a wide variety of jobs, Terry took a position working with residents of the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, California. She discovered that their literacy skills were extremely low, severely limiting their opportunities as adults. In fact, a recent study showed that 70 percent of inmates in California prisons are functionally illiterate. When Terry saw the inmates’ low level of literacy it made a strong impression on her. She realized she would make a bigger impact if she helped young children gain those skills. So, in her 40’s, Terry decided to go back to school and complete her education. She entered Mills College through their Resuming Student program and in 1999 earned her teaching credential.
For the next eight years Terry was a general education teacher in grades Kinder and first. This gave her a close view of how students acquire spoken, written and visual language. It got her wheels turning! During that time she took Quinn Fitzpatrick’s GITC training, and discovered how music could enhance her students’ learning. GITC's songwriting Lyrics for Learning made sense to her. And like most teachers who come to GITC, Terry shared that she had no musical background “at all!” This did not dampen her enthusiasm a bit. In fact it made the chance to learn to make music even more important. She now strums the ukulele and writes songs for learning, integrating music into her classroom every day!
In the summer of 2007 Terry moved to Los Angeles. She thought it would be easy to get a job, but discovered there were no K-5 General Education teaching positions available. While standing in the Human Resources office she saw an announcement that the L.A. Unified School District was hiring general education teachers who were interested in teaching special education. Terry immediately registered for Special Education training and was assigned her first class that fall. She started using, and writing, songs and chants for her special needs students right away.
Terry has attended several AMAISE conferences as well as other GITC events. She says each deep dive into the GITC curriculum adds layers of knowledge, and she always gains more confidence in her abilities. I asked her what she would offer teachers who are thinking about taking the GITC training. She said, “I see my kids make so much progress! If I can pick up a uke, cold, with no musical background, you can do it, too!”
Terry’s vision is to take GITC outside her classroom to become a more integral part of her school and ultimately make a bigger impact in her community through music. She wants to be known by all the kids in the school as “the fun uke teacher” and encourage other teachers to bring GITC to their classrooms. She loves how music crosses over into students’ learning and their socio-emotional development. GITC brings more structure to her classroom, enhances learning, and makes everything more fun!
Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom (GITC) may be based out of Southern California, but GITC programs are growing in schools and communities across the country. With fall classes in full swing, we took a moment to peek in on Franklin County, Tennessee, where GITC teacher Jonanne Hammer is leading the charge towards greater access to music for all students. Keep reading for more on her GITC “aha moment” and her goal to have at least one GITC teacher in every school in her district.
GITC: How did you get started with GITC? What made you take the leap?
JH: I came across GITC during a Google search looking for grants for my music classroom. It looked interesting and I sent a very generic email to the address given asking for more information, really not knowing what the organization was all about. This was a case of asking the right thing at the right time. Jess Baron was going to be close by in Nashville for the weekend and we were able to meet. She told me all about GITC and the methods used to teach guitar and ukulele. I left our meeting with two guitars, a ukulele, a bag of teaching materials, and a commitment to provide ukuleles for our summer music program! I also left with my head spinning with so many ideas of how to use this in our district's music programs, regular classrooms, and special education classes.
GITC: What experience did you have with music prior to GITC? How has GITC changed your relationship to music?
JH: I have been a middle school band director for going on 17 years. I play all brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments, but have never learned the guitar or ukulele -- though it has always been a goal of mine. GITC has broadened the availability of music for our school and district. Music happens outside the music room now. I now have a tool to reach non band students with music and can share that tool with other teachers in our district.
GITC: Can you share an "aha moment" or successful experience incorporating music into the classroom?
JH: GITC is still very new to me and our district. Our sixth grade science class was learning about energy earlier this school year. I used our ukuleles generously donated through GITC to lead the students in writing a song about the different types of energy. They learned and performed the song, then made a video. The science teacher said the experience was the most fun she has ever had teaching, and the students performed well on their assessment. The classroom environment remained very positive and the students stayed engaged throughout the entire process. We are a Title 1 school and some of our students do not have a lot of joy at home. To see them finding joy in learning through music is very satisfying as a teacher.
GITC: What results are you seeing with students and/or other teachers?
JH: Other teachers are becoming more interested in what we are doing. We are just now doing our first Beginner Course for teachers. Some of them are already stepping outside of their comfort zone and incorporating music into their classrooms! The students think they are rock stars!
GITC: What's on the horizon for you? Any upcoming music education goals?
JH: I am hoping to offer the Intermediate Course next and to enroll more classroom teachers into another Beginner Course. My goal is to have at least one teacher from each school in our district using GITC in their classroom and to empower them to lead other teachers in their school to become involved. As a trained music educator, I know the benefits playing music has on a student’s brain, as well as the transforming power of music. Now, for the first time in our school district, classroom teachers can experience this as well.
GITC: If you had to capture GITC in one word, what would that word be?
JH: Accessible. GITC is making music accessible for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the music making process. GTIC is providing access for teachers who may not otherwise be involved in music, especially in their classroom.
GITC: Anything else you'd like to add?
JH: Sometimes things happen around us and we know that it is just meant to be. That describes my experience becoming involved with Jess and GITC. This has very much been about being in the right place at the right time. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of GITC and their supporters and the difference it is making in our school district.
Happy October, Music Friends!
As the scary holidays are upon us, we have a great chance right now to boost student social emotional learning and emotional IQ by helping them give a creative voice to feelings that come up when they think about monsters, ghosts and ghouls! Fun classroom songwriting with students gives them this opportunity to articulate, share and laugh together about it all. It also give teachers a chance to encourage students to write expressively, expand their vocabularies, and memorize new lyrics to build auditory memory. Great stuff!
Studies show that when children can articulate their feelings with strong simple words like scary or scared, they can get a handle on them. They can even learn to laugh about them together. To accomplish this, we worked with teachers in San Diego Unified to rewrite the old camp song, "The Ants Go Marching" into something little ones can sing- and add lyrics to- while getting ready for Halloween.
I recommend you sing it yourself right now, then add a monster or character of your own choosing in place of ours. Next, substitute a verb that describes the way that monster moves. Now you have the secret of "Substitution Songwriting." Word substitution is a skill that children are learning in the early grades to build word sense as pre-readers so this song does double duty for social emotional growth and literacy learning!
This week in GITC classrooms, children will have fun naming their fears and singing about how to make the monsters go away- with candy! Congrats to the creative teachers who have added more verses about witches, dragons, bad guys and so much more! And thank you so very much for your ongoing support of this project! Here are our two best songs for getting rid of mosters with a laugh. Wishing you a happy and funny Halloween!
The Monsters Are Shuffling
to the tune of "The Ants Go Marching One by One"
© 2018 GITC Teachers at Hearst Elementary GITC
The monsters are shuffling to the door, Oh no! Oh no!
The monsters are shuffling to the door, Oh no! Oh no!
The monsters are shuffling to the door
We don’t want to see them anymore
So we give them candy and tell them to go away! Yay!
1. The zombies are dragging to the door, oh no! Oh no!
The zombies are dragging to the door, oh no! Oh no!
The zombies are dragging to the door
We don’t want to see them anymore
So we give them candy and tell them to go away! Yay!
2. The ghosts are drifting to the door, oh no! Oh no!
The ghosts are drifting to the door, oh no! Oh no!
The ghosts are drifting to the door
We don’t want to see them anymore
So we give them candy and tell them to go away!
What Can We Do with a Hundred Monsters"
to the tune of "What Do We Do With a Drunken Sailor?"
Composed by the Foussat Strumming Amigas for GITC
Michelle Dominguez, Felicia Ayala, and Kristin Albright and Jess Baron
Strum: Down Strum First singing note: 1st string fingered in the 2nd fret
Ask your students what THEY would do with 100 monsters and make a verse for each good idea! Extend the activity by illustrating the verses.
What can we do with a hundred monsters?
What can we do with a hundred monsters?
What can we do with a hundred monsters?
1. Tie them all together with a licorice whip!
Tie them all together with a licorice whip!
Tie them all together with a licorice whip!
Tie them all together with a licorice whip!
2. Stick them together with Laffy Taffy
Stick them together with Laffy Taffy
Stick them together with Laffy Taffy
Fill their shoes with melting chocolate
Fill their shoes with melting chocolate
Fill their shoes with melting chocolate
4. Wrap them up in Foot-long Fruit Rolls, etc.
5. Stick them to the sidewalk with Double Bubble, etc.
6. Help your students make the next 5 verses up about the monsters they want to
Happy Halloween, GITC Friends!
Felicia Fis is a beacon of kindness, compassion and creativity in her work with Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom and as a school psychologist in San Diego Unified. This summer, Felicia presented a deeply moving and effective workshop to participants in our teacher retreat in Julian, called "Taking in the Good." Wherever she is- with children, colleagues or GITC community members- her knowledge, her beautiful spirit, her voice and her comfort on guitar are pure inspiration!
Felicia is now helping other GITC teachers and specialists understand how music can become a force for teaching calm and self-regulation in all classrooms. Specific behavioral strategies were once primarily in the domain of special education, but now all classrooms are embracing students with a variety of educational and social emotional challenges as part of a more inclusive approach. That means general classroom teachers want to learn exactly what Felicia teaches.
“There are so many opportunities for students to feel overwhelmed in an inclusive classroom,” remarks Jess Baron, GITC Executive Director. “Waiting, going through transitions between activities, coping with overwhelming sound and visual stimuli, mediating conflicts with peers- any of these experiences can trigger students to become overwhelmed, frustrated, or even angry. Learning to work through those feelings in a classroom setting is a big job. And making music with students provides a very positive, natural medium for developing a wide range of self-regulation self-soothing strategies."
Felicia agrees. She believes that every student has the potential to participate successfully in music. “One misconception about children with disabilities and social-emotional issues is that they don’t like sensory experiences -- when the truth is, they seek them out,” she explains. “If they are playing instruments and making the sounds, it is not dis-regulating. Instead, it regulates them because it’s tactile, visual, and auditory all at the same time.”
As a school psychologist at Valencia Park and Paradise Hills elementary schools, Felicia works with many kids with physical challenges, social-emotional issues, and behavioral issues. Her room is full of instruments, and she has seen first-hand the incredible impact that playing them has on her students.
“One student had significant behavioral challenges but he wanted to play guitar. Being able to come to my room and play guitar became a huge incentive for good behavior, and it had a ripple effect. Other kids started asking to play,” explains Felicia.
In June, she attended GITC’s 2-day conference in AMAISE (Adapted Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education), an experience she found to be both empowering and inspiring. The conference included hands-on adapted instrument training on drums, ukulele, guitar, and Beamz interactive music system, as well as instruction on how to write lyrics for learning and social-emotional development. “The songwriting piece is amazing,” Felicia explains. “Students with special needs feel SO proud when they write a song. They have utilized their strengths, their creativity and their expressive language to create something valuable. You can see immediately that their confidence has been boosted.”
Felicia describes her work with GITC as “satisfying and fulfilling.” She hopes that more teachers will join the movement and they are -- because she’s recruiting them in droves! She is also witnessing students who didn’t want to go to school now feeling excited to attend because music is a part of their day.
“Music and art are important. They open parts of people’s brains that other things don’t,” she says. “I’m always trying to figure out new ways to bridge music and learning.”
BETTER LEARNING THROUGH MUSIC:
Guitars in the Classroom Receives Grant from The NAMM Foundation
San Diego, CA – September 17, 2019 — Do you hear the sound of happy strummers and singers in schools around the U.S.? Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom (GITC) has once again been named a grant recipient of The NAMM Foundation. “It is because of this special foundation, their support and guidance of grantees, that we got our lift off and have been able to improve and grow our work so steadily over the past 13 years,” says GITC founder and Executive Director, Jess Baron.
GITC is a19 year-old educational non-profit that trains, equips and empowers teachers and school staff to integrate academic and social learning with hands on music and student songwriting across the curriculum. The organization was selected as one of 28 music-making organizations to receive a grant to fund vital programs that provide access to music-making opportunities across a variety of different communities and demographics.
“Through the transformative work of these organizations, thousands of people will discover or advance their love and desires for making music,” said Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation. “And these projects also advance new music learning experiences and capacity – all essential for creating more music makers.”
The grants serve to underscore the Foundation’s mission to advance participation in music making and offer quality access to all people. As one of 28 recipients, Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom will utilize The NAMM Foundation’s support to fund Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education (AMAISE) training, after school professional development courses for teachers, classroom teaching artist residencies, and music educator workshops in integrating ukulele and guitar instruction in general music programs.
Jess Baron explains the significance of this grant with long-term perspective:
“When we started our work in 2000, the idea of teaching academic subjects through the power of music was considered a revolutionary concept. There was no research to support the assertion that students could make significant linguistic, cognitive, emotional or academic gains through the integration of hands-on music with standards-based instruction across the curriculum. Now studies connecting music education with these positive outcomes are pouring in! But in the beginning, the idea of training teachers with scant musical experience to lead this integration in their own classrooms raised many eyebrows. Despite this, NAMM saw the potential to create more musical access for children during their most formative years. They believed in our mission and offered to help.
Fast forward to 2019 and 14,000 GITC-trained teachers later, strategic songs and student songwriting with guitars and ukuleles are playing a significant role in learning across the curriculum. The NAMM Foundation has helped GITC design and build a complementary, mutually beneficial relationship between Music Integration and Music Education in our GITC-participating schools. We are so grateful for this grant to support more GITC professional development and teaching artists residencies, which will bring hands-on musical learning to Literacy and Learning for 120,000 elementary students in 2019-2020.”
Since its inception in 1994, The NAMM Foundation’s annual grant program has donated more than $18 million in support to domestic and international music education programs, scientific research, advocacy and public service programs related to music-making. The grants are funded in part by donations from the National Association of Music Merchants and its 10,400 member companies worldwide.
About Guitars in the Classroom
Guitars in the Classroom is a 19 year-old educational non-profit organization dedicated to creating access to musical learning for all students. Our work strives to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the power of song education through the provision of ongoing musical training, coaching and resources for educators. We train, supply and empower teachers who wish to lead and integrate hands-on music with lessons in English language arts, math, science, social studies and more. Our work promotes student engagement and achievement, teacher effectiveness, and it nurtures 21st Century Learning Skills through collaborative music making and student songwriting for learning.
About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit organization funded in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 10,400 members. The Foundation’s mission is to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.