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.
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.
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.
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.
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.