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Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...


SECTION: Music for Lifelong Learning COUNTRY: United States of America PROJECT: USING MUSIC AS A LEARNING TOOL FOR ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN: GUITARS IN THE CLASSROOM DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1998 in California, Guitars in the Classroom (GITC) is based on the principle that music making is a fundamental human experience and a ready resource for learning as well as a powerful tool for building and strengthening communities through shared interpersonal expression and musical engagement. The organization puts music to work in educational contexts by training classroom teachers to play, lead, write, and integrate it into academic lessons to boost learning, communication, and creativity. The majority of the teachers trained and students served through GITC's programs come from Title I schools where half or more of the students exist at or below the poverty level. In many cases, GITC is their only access to music instruction. Teachers across the country are now strumming and singing as they introduce, reinforce, enrich and extend lessons in every subject area using guitars for musical accompaniment and songs as vehicles for lesson content and language learning. They learn to facilitate collaborative student songwriting by embedding popular melodies and folk songs with academic content for deeper student connection to and retention of lesson material. Music leadership also equips them with a valuable classroom management tool that increases student focus while nurturing students‟ sense of creative ability and belonging. GITC‟s guitar technique is a key component to the success of the work. The organization‟s founder and executive director created an unusual developmental approach to guitar education that makes the instrument accessible, beautiful, and easy for total beginners to learn. Based in musical traditions from Argentina and Hawaii, the method begins in an open tuning with simplified chords and essential strums to accompany singing. The result is immediate gratification and success for the teachers and assimilation into the classroom. GITC sees life saving potential of this technique to communicate important information and messages for health, well-being, and safety in social contexts around the globe. This past year, Guitars in the Classroom has chosen to include teaching eco-sustainability through music to teachers and students and is beginning the work of integrating song based learning into life laboratory garden lessons, curriculum for health and nutrition, and lessons in science on topics of alternative energy, sustainable farming, conservation, and more. The organization has created The Green Songbook to help with this effort and to raise funds for its free teacher training programs. Using GITC‟s methods in the classroom have a number of direct benefits: memorization and imprinting of teaching points is aided by the use of rhyme and melody increased use of song-based activities develops listening skills and cooperation. specific benefits in areas of literacy - spelling, grammar and vocabulary greater scope, variety and contrast in lessons facilitating easier planning for teachers opportunities for performance of songs in school and community events increased access to music; more inclusive experience of music in schools. CURRENT STATUS: GITC is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization funded through donations from private individuals, small businesses, corporate sponsors and philanthropic foundations. The guitars and other equipment are 174

donated by the manufacturers. Incorporating GITC into the curriculum is entirely cost-free to the teachers and the schools, although many schools choose to assist with the fundraising. GITC also continues to enlist the support of well-known musical artists and music lovers in both fundraising and outreach. This funding model encourages community participation and stake-holding in education at all levels. Guitars in the Classroom is developing two innovative approaches to assist students who receive special benefit from learning through music: Achievement through Music Integration with Guitar (AMIGO) trains teachers of children acquiring English as a second language to utilize music to build language skills. Music Integration for Resource and Special Educators (MIRSE) is a pilot intended to equip special educators and resource teachers to lead classroom music making to benefit students with disabilities ranging from autism and cerebral palsy to attention deficit disorder and traumatic brain injury. Informed by music therapy, this model will bring musical learning to populations of students who are often excluded from arts classes. GITC continues to grow and expand around the US, while maintaining its identity as a grassroots, independently-run organization based on the expertise and energy of local instructors. The first overseas course was taught at the American University in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a new program is being developed at the American University in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. RESEARCH AND EVALUATION: A 2009 research study specific to Guitars in the Classroom‟s AMIGO program explores the impact music on language learning for students in grades 1-5. This paper summarizes the analysis of test score data, comparing student benchmark scores on standardized tests based on the inclusion or lack of inclusion of music integration. In summary, AMIGO participants made better than expected progress in Decoding & Word Recognition; Vocabulary & Concept Development; Grammar, Capitalization, & Punctuation; Spelling; Listening and their Total Reading Assessment Score. Both highlights from this study and the study itself are available at along with another 2009 study exploring the Characteristics of Teachers Participating in Voluntary Music Integration Professional Development. This gives a detailed picture of the educators who seek and pursue GITC training. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Publications: Wagner, D. (January 2009). Guitars in the classroom teacher impact study. Guitars in the Classroom: San Diego, CA. Wagner, D. (July 2009). Guitars in the classroom AMIGO Project teacher impact study. Guitars in the Classroom: San Diego, CA. CONTACT INFORMATION: Organization: Guitars in the Classroom Address: 1911 Shady Acre Circle, Encinitas, CA 92024 Phone: (760) 452-6123 Contact Person: Jessica Anne Baron (Executive Director) Email: 175

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