Last week, Tim Miklaucic and Chris Garwood of the GSI Foundation paid a special visit to the Brockton Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA. This past year, in cooperation with Cordoba guitars, the Foundation helped provide Brockton Elementary with 30 ukuleles and one full year of instruction to the entire student body. This was our first visit to the school since making the donation, and we were excited to see how the program was progressing.
The impact of this program on the children (grades K-5) was immediately apparent. Even after only a handful of months with the ukuleles, the class had already learned to play and sing an impressive amount of songs ranging from “You Are My Sunshine” to “Yankee Doodle.” Approximately 80% of the students at Brockton Elementary come from minority backgrounds and low-income families meaning for many, this program has been their first formal experience learning and playing music.
The thirty-minute lesson, taught skillfully by Debbie Klak of the Children’s Music Workshop, began with rhythmic practice in the form of clapping and counting. These exercises were followed by all of the children reviewing previously learned pieces together as an ensemble. Many of the students then volunteered to play the pieces solo and did so confidently. Towards the end of the class, the whole group started learning a new, more challenging piece: “When the Saints Come Marching In.”
Engaging students in the process of learning music is an art Debbie and all the teachers at Children’s Music Workshop have come to master. Led by Founder and CEO Larry Newman, the Children’s Music Workshop has been instrumental in helping the GSI Foundation build a strong relationship with schools throughout the LA United School District. Our outreach wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective without the tireless work of him and his team.
After the students had strummed their last chord, they gently put each ukulele away and departed for their next class, loudly thanking “Mr. Tim” as they left. It’s safe to say we all left Brockton Elementary that morning feeling hopeful for the future of music and eager to make an even greater impact. With your support, the GSI Foundation can continue making music a significant part of education in public schools around the country. To find out more about the GSI Foundation and for ways you can help, visit https://guitarsalon.com/foundation.php.