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.
“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.
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 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.