Guitars Not Guns is dedicated to ensuring a positive experience for your child in a safe environment. This page addresses some common questions from parents/guardians about our program and how it works.
What is this program and why does it exist?
Guitars Not Guns is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to PROVIDE GUITARS AND LESSONS TO FOSTER CHILDREN AND AT-RISK YOUTH IN A CLASSROOM SETTING WITH QUALIFIED TEACHERS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO VIOLENCE.
We are 100% volunteer organization, run by musicians who want to share their passion to help improve the lives of children who are at a higher exposure to negative outcomes. Put simply, anyone involved in this program loves playing guitar, is dedicated to sharing that love with your child, and believes enough in our mission to volunteer their free time.
How do you ensure my child’s safety?
While every chapter of Guitars Not Guns runs a little differently, safety is always made a top priority.
- All GNG volunteers complete a background check, facilitated by our national organization, before they are allowed to volunteer.
- All GNG volunteers complete sensitivity and training courses as required by the national organization.
- GNG Ohio partners with organizations (like Boys and Girls Club) that provide “built in” safe facilities, supervision, and other safeguards for your children. Often this includes additional background checks and policies.
No safety issue is taken lightly and we work very closely with our partner organizations to make sure that we comply with all safety best practices. If you have any concerns whatsoever, we are happy to address them.
How does the program work?
Guitars Not Guns, Ohio provides a 14-week program to get kids “off the ground” with learning guitar. The goal is that by the end of the program, each kid has enough baseline skill to continue practicing on their own or with a qualified guitar teacher. It’s also our goal to give the kids enough exposure to guitar to work through the frustrating first steps, so they can decide whether guitar is something they truly enjoy.
Over those 14 weeks, we’ll provide instruction twice per week for an hour at a time. One day of the week will be a group lesson, where the class learns a new technique, chord, or song. The other day will be a supervised practice, so the kids can work on what they’ve learned.
At the end of the 14 weeks, every student who as actively participated will get to share what they’ve learned by performing for parents, other students, and their friends. At that point they are welcome to keep their guitars! Our hope is that this gift will serve as a foundation for a long, positive musical experience.
How can I get involved as the parent?
Before the program, we ask that parents ensure all paperwork is submitted in advance of the first class. This just helps us keep our ducks in a row and shows commitment before we use donations to purchase a guitar for your child. We also encourage you to ask any questions you have about the program. We are happy to address them.
During the program, we encourage parental involvement to foster students’ enthusiasm for learning guitar. Asking the student how lessons are going, showing excitement for what they are learning, and encouraging them to work hard at it (even when it gets tough) are of the utmost importance. Students are not allowed to bring the guitars home prior to graduation, so encouragement from home is the best way to help them along.
After the program, when the students receive their guitars, encouraging structured practice will help kids retain and grow their skills. Guitar is one of those skills that will drift away if not practiced, but kids who stick with it consistently for a year or two will build a foundation that will never fade.
We don’t yet have formal partnerships with guitar teachers (this is coming), but we can certainly make informal referrals if you’d like to continue your child’s music education in a structured program.
And, or course, we encourage parents to provide us whatever feedback you have, positive and negative, to help us improve our program. We want the same kinds of things for your children that you do, and collaborating with parents to ensure we deliver that kind of experience is the best way for us to do it!