As a kid, I picked up the guitar and learned all alone. If GNG was offered it would have help so much. I am privileged to teach as a volunteer in this organization. I have seen great results from guitar students who are at high risk and have great odds. Learning guitar is a wonderful way to focus. The Arizona chapter is amazingly active and provides simultnious classes throughout the Phoenix metro.
A great organization.
Once I learned of GNG I started doing some research, I could not believe that such an awesome resource was available to the youth in our community and word have not yet gotten out. We got people on board to host and teach, and the kids that went through the program started out not knowing how to play a single note and came out 8 weeks later not only playing impressively, but confident in their newly-found skills and looking forward to future plans using them.
I am very honored to be a part of such a great giving and inspirational organization as Guitars Not Guns. I am a volunteer recruiter for our DC chapter and it is a pleasure to be giving back to the local at risk youth in the community. Music is our universal language, so it's amazing to see how Guitars Not Guns moves the children and directs them towards a better outlet, a more fulfilling path in life.
I've had the privilege of leading the newly-formed Arizona chapter of Guitars not Guns for the last year and a half and have found it to be not only rewarding but an organization well deserving of my time. The mission is unique, impactful, and powerful.
In Arizona we have served more than 30 kids living in group homes and treatment facilities in our 8 week summer session alone and we're in the planning stages for the Fall program. With the proper funding we could very easily double the number of children served in the Fall.
The surveys we received back from the kids indicate that they are happier, more empowered, and more engaged with their peers than they were at the beginning of our program. This mission of this organization REALLY DOES WORK!!
The organization is doing great work to help young people when they need help the most! My role is in the background, I repair and set up guitars so they are playable, I've been building and repairing stringed instruments since the 70's. Now that I am retired I thought this would be the best way I could help this great organization, I remember all to well the early days of my trying to play guitars that were not playable! I probably would have been a better guitarist if I had had a decent guitar to play, and I want to make sure these youths have something playable. The fine network of people involved do a great job of making sure they get playable instruments, and lessons. I could not think of a better cause than this to help.
Gregg is one of the few that actually walks his talk. He is so amazing at what he does, and he truly is in it for the kids and his love of music. I have interviewed him on my radio show and we talked at length about the benefits of music, animals, and nature for not only the youth, but for anyone. If you have the opportunity to meet, work, volunteer, or interact with Gregg I highly recommend it. Guitars not Guns is a wonderful organization and we need so many more just like it, doing the good work and inspiring our youth to become the wonderful people we know they are and can.
“One of the most important things that we can do as a society is to include music in our local communities. We can reach across the divide of cultures with music. We can bring forth change with music. We can and we must embrace the power of music. It is a very important thread in the fabric of our consciousness as a society.”- Gregg Hammond 2011 interview with Bittersweet Magazine Guitars Not Guns is an all-volunteer and donation based non-profit with no paid employees. It comes from our hearts and our desire to make our city a shining example of what we can do around the nation and around the globe. I taught a class at a therapeutic day school. Here is what the principal said about the program. From: Bellamy, Bettye
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2010 2:47 PM
To: Lopez, Julia
Subject: Guitars not Guns Program Statement
The Guitars not Guns Program was introduced to students at Rock Creek Academy last year(2009) as an avenue for inner city, urban students to explore options to the proliferation of violence among youth in Washington , DC . Rock Creek Academy is a therapeutic day school for students with learning and emotional disabilities. When told about the program, initially, I was hesitant to embrace it because my thinking at the time was that our students probably would not be receptive because they would not be learning ‘gangsta rap’ or “hip-hop.” After exploring the inner landscapes of the Guitars not Guns Program, I agreed to move forward and introduce it to our students. By all means, it is probably one of the best decisions that I have made as Principal of the high school program at Rock Creek Academy .
Our student participants are eager and enthusiastic about their weekly adventure. Other students are trying to get into the program. I have had the pleasure of observing our participants. Their faces tell the story. Expressions of joy and accomplishment permeate the room. Often students will let you know emphatically that the program is lots of fun. As an educational administrator, the essence of the educational process should be fun. This unique and wonderful program has allowed our special needs population an opportunity to learn how to play the guitar while they are engaged in concept building and the acquiring of a variety of learning skills. The Guitars not Guns Program is a tremendous asset to Rock Creek Academy .
Bettye A. Bellamy, Ed.D.
High School Principal
Rock Creek Academy
Challenging Minds and Building Character
I have been volunteering with guitars not guns as a teacher and as the President of our DC Affiliate in Washington DC. The results are amazing. The students come each week eager to learn, eager to play. I feel blessed to be part of making a difference in the lives of children who would not have the opportunity to play music and believe in themselves if it were not for this program. The fact that the students have the opportunity to earn their guitar is very rewarding to them. I see the smiles and hear the laughter each week and it warms my heart. This program is one of a kind. Worth all the hours of time volunteering. Rewarding to both students, and teachers. A plus!
Gregg Hammond Washington DC
This is my second year volunteering as a guitar teacher for GNG. Although I have played for half a century, and taught math, science and art in the schools, teaching guitar is a new challenge. Today's kids have no culture of traditional song and finding that connection has been an education for me. It is truly pleasing to have students actually returning week after week to pick up tips and learn to play. I see a real need fulfilled for all of us, students and teachers alike.
I had been a math and art teacher in the public schools for decades. After I retired, I returned to my music for a new career. During one evening's performance I learned about Guitars Not Guns. This was the outlet I had been looking for; a different teaching opportunity, a new way to reach those kids whose lives might not be as free and easy as my own. I have thoroughly enjoyed the program, it has all the elements necessary for sound music instruction at no cost to the families. It gives kids a chance to begin a hobby that they can lean on in tough times. Perhaps some day one or two may find true respect and happiness in music.
I am priviledged to have met Greg Hammond when we both lived in Big Pine Key, FL approximately 1995. We met while he was playing for a band called "Lemongrass". We became very good friends. Since then life has taken us in different directions. He now lives in Washington and I live in KY. We have gotten back in touch through Facebook. I haven't had any personal experience with his organization "Guitars Not Guns", but I have had the opportunity to learn more about his cause. He has a real passion for what he does which is providing encouragement to children to get music in their lives! He does this with the hope that he can make a difference. He has a burning desire to keep these children off the streets away from violence and crime. He is the most self-less person I know and I am so proud of him.
Gregg is a phenomenal teacher. He really has a way of customizing his teaching so that each person can understand.
We have enough shootings in this world. There can never be enough music.
Wow - what a valuable and much needed organization!! I met Barbara Gorin, VP of Fundraising at a music industry convention in LA and within about 10 mins. of talking to her about her organization, I was sold and committed to doing whatever I could to contribute. During the convention we ran into many famous musicians who loved this organizations mission as much as I did and they too committed to doing whatever they could to contribute to it's success. (for examples of this you can look on Barbara Goin's FB page - many pics of her with these musicians)
I have worked in the music industry for more than 2 decades and since the convention I have been in contact with many artists and industry people and all are very excited about and committed to working with this organization.
In my opinion, this organization has a very bright future ahead. They provide a very valuable and important service for those who otherwise would have zero access to this type of training. Not to mention, it gives these kids a chance to be inspired and a glimpse into a side of life they would never have the opportunity to see, let alone participate in if it weren't for this program. Inspiration and hope are two of the most valuable things one can experience and this organization provides both!!!
I purchased a t shirt with the proceeds going to the organization. I am pleased with my purchase and believe that this is an excellent cause that is worthy of further funding.
The work of Guitars Not Guns is even more important in today's economic environment where schools are cutting arts programs. GNG serves low-income children in DC whose parents cannot afford to purchase instruments or lessons for them. These children are also heavily at risk for joining gangs. GNG provides a positive and creative outlet - learning to play guitar - that helps introduce young children to the arts and lets them know that they have other options besides getting involved with violence. GNG has a lesson plan for the children who participate in the program - they learn all of the basic chords for guitar. Kids graduate from the program when they are able to play all of the chords and they are given the guitar to keep to hopefully continue playing.
Under less than ideal conditions Guitars Not Guns works with kids who desperately need a positive outlet and source of creative inspiration in their lives.
I've attended a public performance of a group of six Guitars Not Guns students - some mentally and physically disabled even - and these kids thoroughly impressed the scores of other students, parents, and teachers in attendance.
I also attended a small graduation ceremony where a separate group of students received certificates recognizing their attendance and accomplishments in the Guitars Not Guns program.
This kind of public recognition is a powerful thing in the lives of these kids, even if they never pick up a guitar again.
The Guitars Not Guns works in such a variety of ways to improve the outlook for these kids, it is something that should be supported and implemented everywhere.
I organized a two day festival called M.A.i.M./Ed. Fest (musicians alliance in music education) with proceeds to go to GNG. All people involved were a pleasure to work with and offered help in anyway they could. I see their continued dedication constantly)
I have volunteered with GNG for almost a year now. I taught music as a chorus and band director for 4 years in NC and was looking for a way to be involved in music education once I relocated to DC. I have been impressed with the organization and the clear focus of its leadership; it is easy to volunteer because of the consistent dedication of the DC president and the continued commitment and support by the school and the students. I feel honored to be part of an organization that positively supports students in school by capitalizing on student interest and creating success that then multiplies into success academically and socially in many areas of these students' lives. On a personal note, I am proud to take part in each of these students' lives; they are polite, hardworking, creative, interesting, passionate and inspiring.
The growth is this program in the National Capital Area is astonishing, from around 25 participants in 2006 to now more than 300. The program is based on a great idea, to provide opportunities that otherwise may not exist for at-risk kids to learn to play a guitar. Learning music whether it is the guitar or any other instrument provides so many more benefits than just learning the instruments. This program builds self-esteem and provides an alternative path rather than one that is self-destructive.
A coworker and guitarists challenged me to volunteer in the GNG program and I took the challenge. Instructing small groups of little fingers and hands moving up and down their new guitar neck together making music was beyond my expectations. To hear boys dreaming of playing with there buds and girls strumming and singing a new song takes one back to the beginnings. Success means practicing and that takes time and that time keeps them focused along with a weekly commitment to attend the lessons. Witnessing the smiles and claps from parents and friends of these young musicians upon graduation is the reason GNG does impact my local community and needs your support as well..
My name is Barbara Gorin, and I am VP of Fundraising for the Contra Costa County (California) chapter of Guitars Not Guns. I have such a deep passion for this program, and the benefits I have seen first hand for the deserving kids that we help to make music a part of their lives. I am proud to be part of this program, and anything I can do to help make it grow and help get recognition is a goal in my life.
I have been very fortunate in getting some International exposure for this program, specifically, the April 2010 issue of Guitar Player Magazine, where I was interviewed about my involvement with this wonderful program. I am greatful to be part of such a wonderful organization, and the great volunteers I have met along the way.
I was also given an honor for my volunteer work with this program by Diablo Magazine called the "Threads of Hope" which recognizes volunteers in our community that help make a difference. I am so thankful for the recognition of such a wonderful award.
I am also very greatful for the sponsors I have met along the way that help our program by donating strings, picks, guitar cases, straps, and other items we are great need. Without the support from these companies and the music community, and our volunteers, we would not be able to continue.
Thank you Ray and Louise Nelson for creating such a beautiful way to help kids make music a part of their lives. I will continue to dedicate my life and passion for music and kids to this fantastic organization and will continue to make you proud. Thank you!!
Guitars Not Guns is agreat organization. They introduce music through guitar playing to at urban youth at risk of gun violence. Music not only gives them an alternative to hanging out on the street, where trouble lurks around every corner, it also gives them the unique satisfaction of having created something that truly makes the world a better place.
I have taught for GnG and it is an exemplary program. There is nothing better than hooking kids on the power of music making.
Fantastic charity. GnG has played a significant role in my life ever since I stumbled upon its website three years ago. It has changed not only the kids who were helped through it but me as well. Some of them I honestly believe will continue their music, a thing they would have had no access at all to had it not been for GnG, but I know that just being given the opportunity to try was huge for all of them. I'll never forget my experiences with those kids and I hope to spread this organization to other places around and encourage anyone else who wishes to do the same.
I have volunteed with the DC Chapter of Guitars Not Guns on numerous occasions, performed at fundraisers,etc. and I will firmly attest that this is a great cause, and provides sorely needed access to music for an underserved community.
I have been teaching guitar for 4 years at Philips School, a special ed. school in Annandale, VA. The children at Philips are handicapped in many different ways: physically, emotionally and economically.
GnN provides starter guitars (from Gibson) free to any students who learn basic guitar knowledge such as parts of the guitar, tuning and playing some chords.
My goal has been to get the kids playing a few chords and singing some fun songs. I've had some success with the teaching them songs like Happy Birthday and some carols which I encourage them to take home and sing to and with their families. Some of the stories of their efforts has been my reward.
Their progress varies greatly but their enthusiasm does not. A couple of the students have performed on stage in their school talent show. A couple have developed and written their own songs.
A student named Michael has hands that are severely physically impaired. I got him to be able to form a G chord and taught him a couple songs he could strum along with the other kids. Pretty soon this shy and reclusive teen was singing with gusto and a great big smile that melted my heart.
I shall never forget my student Mary who passed away over a year ago. Mary was a troubled and frail young teen, with nails chewed to the quick, and other signs of emotional distress. She was working on learning You Are My Sunshine and Happy Birthday so she could surprise her Mom. She rarely missed guitar class. She suddenly got sick and never recovered. Philips School dedicated a small garden plot on the school grounds to Mary. I was invited to sing and play at the dedication with Mary's parents and Grandparents in attendance. I played Over the Rainbow and You Are My Sunshine and her fellow guitar students and many of Mary's teachers sang along.
Life is short. GNG is touching childrens lives, individually, for the better. Please help them make a difference.
Everyone who has the joy of music in their lives knows its power to "tame savage beasts" in all of us. This non-profit group embodies that power by aiming to bring instruments to inmates and help be parto f the road to permanent rehabilitation.
Giving our youth a positive program such as Guitars Not Guns, allows them to seek a positive after-school experience that not only keeps them off the streets and out of trouble, it also gives them the opportunity to discover and develop a talent they may otherwise have never known they had. The Guitars Not Guns program not only teaches them how to play a guitar, it even provides them with a guitar so that they can continue to play even after they have outgrown the classes. This is a wonderful way to keep children engaged in a positive activity and keeps them away from gangs, drugs, guns, etc. at no cost to the child or family.
Guitars not Guns is a wonderful all volunteer non profit that helps kids by teaching them music, guitar, and self esteem. It gives them a place to go and a wonderful skill to learn and fall in love with. It affords them a respite from the normal world and an alternative to finding trouble in the streets. Children who study music do better in school and in life. Music, like all the arts, expands the mind and lifts the spirits. This is a very worthy cause that could use all the help it can get!
I'm the lead instructor for the Contra Costa County, California Chapter of GnG and its California Vice President, but titles hardly matter. This organization can change lives.
We focus on foster kids, at-risk youth and other special children. You won't hear a lot about us even though we never turn down and opportunity toi promote the organization. We provide guitars and beginning guitar lessons and no kid is turned away due to lack of funds. Why? Because we provide opportunity to the child victims of our society - children of women in a domestic violence safehouse; kids at a church or Boys & Girls Club in a gang-riddled area; youth in a homeless. mentally or physically disabled housing shelter, a group foster home. We do not seek publicity - we only ask the you help in what has been an incredibly rewarding altruistic endeavor. What we provide is solace through music and music instruction. In California none of our volunteers are paid and it is much the same with chapters in the United States and in Canada.
This organization is about heart with the hope that a better, engaged populace will deter individuals from destructive behaviors endemic to their environs and situation. The kids are taught responsibility for their instruments which are loaned to them. If they successfully complete the two month course they get to keep the guitars that are loaned to them. The kids are eight to eighteen years old and taught by volunteers of up to 12 students at a time. Most continue to play and there is evidence that many improve in school and has redirected at-risk youth.
GnG is an amazing organization, and the particular chapter of which I am a member has an amazing back-story. A dear friend of mine was lost to gun violence at a young age. His kindness and talent with music will never be forgotten, and Guitars not Guns provides an avenue for such tribute to the unfairly departed.
I have been a volunteer for this organization to help bring the arts and music to at risk underserved kids in Eastern Contra Costa County including the city Richmond, CA, which has a very high rate of violence, drugs, murders, shootings, and gang activity. We are trying to provide these kids with a positive outlet for their energy and steer them away from these destructive activities and into more positive and life affirming activities and to show them that someone actually cares about these kids. A lot of them are from foster homes, split up families, and/or being cared for by relatives due to their parents being unable to care for them, due to drugs, jail, etc.
Volunteering for GnG is immensely satisfying for me. Quite simply, I love what they are doing. The most gratifying time I've ever spent volunteering my time has been at a Boys & Girls Club after school program as a class monitor with GnG. I don't even play guitar but that didn't hold me back from a guitar-based charity. I love coming to the classes once a week, getting to know the kids and helping the guitar teachers with their classes. It's exciting to see the kids recognize chords and remember how to play a song. The charity is an outstanding way to get into the community and help kids learn a new skill. It's also been fun to attend some of the outdoor music festivals, helping to sign up new teachers and finding new places where GnG can set up new classes. I have met a lot of musicians and non-musicians who are excited about the program.
It is truly an uplifting and wonderful experience to see these kids, whose stories are not always what we would hope for them in their young lives, learn that they can make music, enjoy playing with along with their friends and accomplish the basics of playing guitar through practice and study. It is a pleasure to see them succeed and show their excitement over passing their test and earning their guitar. One particular student whose handicap is a serious learning difficulty and whose fingers and hand strength prevented her from forming chords or even playing a 3/4 size instrument would not give up. Repeated the class and is now using a slide with good success to make her music - she is presently helping another student, learn the fundamentals she now knows so well. I am proud of her efforts and desire to play music and not give up.
This organization really captured a sentiment of compassion and sharing for the sake of spreading love, the essence of music. Guitars not Guns
Guitars Not Guns became a part of my life when a friend of mine was murdered. We called Aaron the "Guitar God" at school. He was an enormously talented musician with a passion for singing and playing the guitar. The chapter of GnG that we, his friends and family, formed in his memory has helped those who loved him carry on his passion for music and giving nature by raising funds to provide guitar lessons to kids. When I think about what this charity does for at-risk children, providing them with a healthy activity, one-on-one time with a positive role model, an outlet for personal expression and creativity, and a skill they can be proud of, I also know that Aaron's memory is being kept alive.
I belong to the Aaron Brown chapter of Guitars Not Guns, a memorial chapter for a friend of mine who had the deepest love for music of all of my friends, and the greatest heart I've ever met. This organization couldn't have been a better match to help remember my friend and promote his legacy. Though I had little direct experience with the organization, I can tell you that from the little experience I had, along with the experiences I've heard from others in our chapter, this group is one of the most dedicated, genuine, and compassionate non-profit groups I've probably ever heard of. They're unique mission is unparalleled and potential is astronomical. I only expect great things from this organization and wish them the best.
This organization understands that working with kids on a one-to-one basis with music is key to their empowerment. Each child accepted into the program receives a guitar to work with, and if they practice, they get to keep the guitar.
The screening process for the teachers is excellent and the sessions are based in the child's neighborhood. Teachers maintain close relationships with guitar venues and do a good job of quietly recruiting new teachers to the organization.
Well, I went to Annandale High School as well. Also, my friends got an scholarship from Guitars Not Guns. I used to be in Guitar Class with Mr. Key and he mentioned this organization and how it helps
I became aware of this organization after my friend's parents partnered with them after his passing and feel honored to know people who are involved with this non-profit group. Their task is simple yet their accomplishments are extraordinary. By providing troubled and underprivileged youths the ability to express themselves through the simple means of music gives them a door to opportunities they may not have had a chance to experience before. I hope Guitars Not Guns is able to get the recognition it deserves and along with the recognition it receives ample resources to continue its success.
A few years ago, a childhood friend of mine was tragically shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in Alexandria, VA. He was an only child with a promising future who was just getting ready to begin college. His passion was music. He played the guitar, and I'll never forget his trademark Metallica shirts. Music was my friend's life, and when we lost him and the community was mourning, the family made it a point to involve Guitars Not Guns. As an individual who has not only worked with children as a mentor and tutor, but also as someone who has grown up to be a journalist in the music industry in New York City, I see firsthand the positive effects that being involved with a strong music program can have on youth, especially when the program is in the hands of responsible, strong-willed adults with a sense of values and morals. That is exactly what Guitars Not Guns brings to the table. Responsible adults, teaching musical skills to kids in need. If I still lived in Virginia, I would certainly be more directly involved with the local chapter of GnG, not only to honor my good friend's memory, but because music was such a motivating force in my own childhood.
I run the official Facebook page for GNG-NCA, known as Guitars Not Guns-Aaron Brown Chapter (because that was the first NCA chapter), and have run it since 2006. In that time I have seen a lot of change. Starting in just Fairfax County, our little chapter has grown up. It now encompasses all of Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and even some of Southern Maryland. There used to be only 3 places for kids to take lessons; as of 2010 there were 27.
What has not changed is the mission.
Guitars Not Guns is not just about teaching kids chords and scales, it’s about changing lives. How many of us have benefited greatly from learning a new skill, from unlocking a hidden talent? How many of us have been able shoulder the burdens of our lives by being able to bare our souls through art? Guitars Not Guns finds kids who have never been given that opportunity, and then allows them to learn that skill and unlock that talent.
One of the quotes on the GNG web page is, “Doing little things well is a step towards doing big things better.” This is what GNG does best. Every kid that has been given a path out of hopelessness is a life that is steered away from violence. Yet, while even one life improved is worth the expenditure, GNG has done much more than that. The Virginia chapter serves over 220 students annually. The Maryland and DC chapters, which only began in April 2009, serve over 80 students. Taken all together, the National Capital Area of Guitars Not Guns will serve over 300 students this year alone.
But our chapter represents more than even that. Five years ago when Aaron Brown was killed, we were hit not only with a tragedy, but also a decision: would we let our anger and grief turn into bitterness and cynicism, or would we transform our pain into a balm for others? In response to this, Aaron’s parents asked that donations not be sent to them, but rather to a charity called Guitars Not Guns. This charity was so flooded with donations from this one event that the first chapter in Virginia, our chapter, was chartered in June of that year. We have kept it going all these years, and shown that rather than be overcome by despair, we will overcome despair with love.
Violence has not gone away, nor will this group, or any group, put an end to violence. Yet, what this group does do is give hope to someone who may not have had any place to turn. Violence will continue, but so will hope, and which is greater? All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish a single candle.
This is what Guitars not Guns means to me, and this is why I have given GnG-NCA a five star rating.
I am a teacher at a school in Northern Virginia for children with serious behaviour issues. Three years ago we started the "Guitars not Guns" program in the hopes that it would give some of our students more positive options for their free time. The program has worked wonderfully! We not only continue to interest new students in learning the guitar, but our past GnG students are continuing to learn as well as helping to teach the new students! The guitars they receive at the end of the program would likely be unaffordable for these children, and they cherish them. They are all so proud of their accomplishments--we have had students perform songs they have learned at our hoilday program, our talent show, and at our graduation ceremony. I would like to thank Dan T. for his tireless efforts with some very difficult students, and for sharing his love for music with us all! It has truly made a difference!
I'm the Secretary-Treasure of a newly started chapter of GnG in Cobb County, GA. I'm also on the board of the state chapter for GA.
As a long-time guitar player and singer I was greatly impressed with how much GnG has achieved with a minimum of funding. Founders Ray and Louise Nelson really care about the kids who are helped through this program. They put the organization together from scratch ten years ago and slowly but surely grew it from a single small effort into national and international chapters.
I can't say enough good things about Guitars Not Guns.
Guitars Not Guns is an organization that teaches beginning guitar to kids at risk and underprivileged kids. This organizations' goal is to teach kids through guitar music, that there is an alternative to guns and violence. It is very rewarding to teach these kids to see that learning and playing guitar can be a life-changing experience, and that music can be a way to channel their learning abilities into something positive. These are eight week courses, where the guitars are left with the kids to practice. At the end of the session, they are surprised with a gift of keeping the guitars for their own.
I’ve been a volunteer with GNG (NCR/VA) for over two years now. It’s an all volunteer organization, with almost no overhead. Conducted in mostly Boys and Girls Clubs – it’s free to the participants. That’s right – kids completing the program get a guitar and weekly lessons for free! The program is excellently run by the Chapter President – Skip. Skip focuses on getting to places where kids are disadvantaged, to include reaching out to military kids. I’ve had the opportunity to part of the lives of over 30 kids. I mentored them on a weekly basis and saw many of them grow (not just musically but) but as persons.
For bang for buck – you can’t beat this all volunteer program.
I've been donating guitars, repair work and time to GnG for a couple of years now. They are a fantastic organization. I've seen them grow in the local area from a few classes to an organization that is helping hundreds of kid each session through the region. The kids really seem to get fulfillment out of learning to play an instrument.
Many kids today, particularly from minority and economically distressed neighborhoods, are at loose ends after school. Their (often single) parents are not home when they get there, and that tends to lead to bad decisions that can eventually land that child in prison...or worse. Guitars Not Guns gives them an interesting and fun alternative to "hanging out" (and becoming just another name the police have on their radar) that might not be otherwise be available to them: learning to play a musical instrument, and one that is the MOST popular today. Not every child is musically inclined, but many are who don't know it yet. GNG can spark that interest and give them a worthy goal that not only benefits them psychologically, but may even become something they can earn a future living doing, if they devote themselves to it. And it costs them or their family nothing but some after-school time. What could be a better investment in the future?
I have been working with GuitarsNotGuns for at least 3 years. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with many at risk kids and introduce them to music. It has been a gratifying thing for me to be able to share my lifelong love of making music and playing guitar.
This is a great program that allows children to learn to play an instrument. Most of these kids have never held a guitar and now they have the opportunity to not only learn to play but to have their very own musical instrument. It is a great confidence builder and will hopefully give the children a sense of accomplishment and desire to learn.
I served as a class instructor in the past, and was extremely impressed with the organization. The benefit to the youth served by GnG is tremendous. Being able to play a musical instrument gives a voice to so many of these kids, and gives them a much needed outlet. Without the resources of GnG, this would simply not be possible for many of the participants. It is clearly a breath of fresh air for them, and provides an opportunity for them to grow as individuals.
I have been associated with GnG for about 5 years. Through these years I have concluded the program offers at risk and underprivileged youth the following life skills: learn to play a guitar; requirement to commit to an 8 week program; care for a piece of property in the form of a guitar; discipline in practicing and showing up for class.
Our son started guitar lessons with Guitar not Guns last year and is ready to start the next session. The classes have been great. The teachers are encouraging, patient, and entertaining, and they work to each child's level and musical interests. Our son enjoys it and actually plays at home now! The recital at the end of last session was impressive. The kids and teachers all performed and put on an amazing show. Guitar Not Guns is a great program.
As a former foster parent I believe in the power of music both in building self-esteem and skills, Guitars not Guns accomplishes both these areas for the children in the program. I have been involved with GNG as a Board Member, fundraiser and think that the classes that are part of the GNG program are a remarkable source of development for the kids in the program. From listening to these kids, they are excited about learning new skills, and participating in the music and learning that this program provides.
I became involved with GNG starting in 2005 as president of San Francisco County. Over the years, the program grew from teaching a handful of students the basic of beginner guitar to three separate instruction levels inlcuding intermediate and advanced electric guitar. It has been thrilling to watch these children grow and develop their skills, to see the smiles on their faces when they master a new chord, and admire the swell of pride emanating from their friends and families as they publicly perform at recitals. Our message is clear, and very simple.....they love music, they love learning, and they love doing it together. Ultimately, in so doing, they are engaged in positive, productive social activities instead of spending their free time on the streets getting intro trouble. It has been a sheer joy to work with these kids and the wonderful volunteers, parents and guardians who contribute so much to our program. Please visit us on the web at www.guitarsnotguns.org and find out how you can help today!
My son joined GNG beginning his freshman year in highschool. His school did not offer a music program and a friend told us about GNG. He joined as an advanced student and couldn't be more happier. He's practicing more, even starting to try his hand at writing music. The volunteers are incredible. Their learning styles and encouragement keep the kids interested and wanting to learn more. They try their best to accommodate their schedule to the kids school schedules. Their positive attitudes lend to the possibilities of our children becoming future volunteers.
I am the mother of a volunteer with the program. My son is a wonderful guitar player and when I encouraged him to get involved in a volunteer activity to give back to the community, He chose to help out at Guitars Not Guns. He has been an assistant teacher now for 4 years and has grown immeasurably as a person. He is good with the kids because he is not much older than they are and gets to do something that he loves at the same time. The other volunteers are a great bunch of people - so my son has also met some great mentors. I have attended all of the concerts and seen wonderful enthusiasm and growth in the young students. This is a very valuable organization - I can't recommended it highly enough.
Hi, I've been volunteering for GNGs for about 3 years now and I find it very rewarding. I used to teach when I was a lot younger (about 38 years ago). Then I went to school and got a music education but wound up going into business myself (outside of music). After about 30 years I got the itch to go back to music and helped to start the local Guitar Society in the San Francisco bay area. Then about three years ago I got the itch to start teaching again and I contacted my local chapter of GNGs.
I remembered that when I was young I had little time for anything other than practicing guitar. I put in a minimum of 5 hours every day and in a way that saved me from all the activities that many of my friends got into, namely drugs. I still recall telling them that they were wasting their time partying and getting stoned. They would just look at me.
Well, I still think that having a discipline like studying music can save many kids from going off into a wrong direction in life. It is also proven that studying music and the arts will help students improve their study habits in other subjects as well.
I am not sure how much of a difference I am making in my community as far as helping kids go. But I am finding that I am having a great time and learning to be proud of learning the guitar all over again, except this time it is through the eyes and ears of my kids.
Hello, my name is Hannah Blanco, and I am a former student of Guitars Not Guns. I reached level B2, until the program was not available anymore. Because of that, I continued to learn guitar on my own. Now, I would like to possibly volunteer for GnG and hope to open doors for other children, just how GnG did for me. When I first joined GnG, I was excited to know I was going to learn to play the guitar, since I love music with a passion and can play several instruments. When I passed the first test, I was really excited that I would have my own guitar. I worked hard to pass that test, and practiced a lot. My teacher was Mr. Webb. There is one thing that Mr. Webb taught me that I will never forget. He always said, "Practice makes perfect, if you make perfect practice," which inspired me to make the best practice I could with everything I was doing. Now, I still play the guitar, and can play many of my favorite songs. I recently started playing the electric guitar, which I got for Christmas. I wish to continue carrying out the lessons I was given, and continue to learn more and more.