This school year, I decided to try something new. Being a musician, I wanted to give the students at the After School Program the opportunity to express themselves through music.
In order to bring music to the students, we decided to start a guitar club. As with any program, we needed to start by using the resources we already had. Fortunately, we had 8 guitars that were donated to the Girl’s Group Home and they were willing to share with us. But then we needed an instructor. Luckily we didn’t have to look too far to find one since I had a professional music teacher in my band. Things took off from there.
I now have over 10 students who are participating every Monday. They are learning the basic chords and how to play and sing at the same time. But what surprised me was not only the change in the kid’s ability to create music but more importantly the emotional and behavioral changes I have seen in my students.
Guitar club has made a huge difference for one student in particular. We’ll call him “Fred.” He is a special education student who has been coming to the After School Program for two years. He doesn’t get along with a lot of the other students and they can really push his buttons pretty easily.
I would have never guessed that “Fred” would be interested in playing the guitar. As it turns out, he already had his own and had even tried taking guitar classes. But his teacher got frustrated with him and that ended that. So Fred was really excited to find a class where he could learn to play. And our guitar club teacher has a lot of patience which is a real bonus!
The best part is not that Fred is learning the guitar. Now, he has a safe place to go where at least once a week, he is on the same level as everyone else and he fits in. Yes, he still has problems getting along. But he’s getting better. And that’s really what makes guitar club, or any program we hold at the After School Program a success – by making the teens feel like they belong and they can be who they want to be.
So even if guitar club was just helping Fred, it would be worth it. But they’re all getting pretty good at music too! We look forward to some performances in the near future. Stay tuned.