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Guitars Not Guns® Music Program Canada

Guitars Not Guns Canada is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency

GNG Quick View page at Canada Revenue

GNG detail page at Canada Revenue

Interested In Helping?

If you would like to make a donation to GNG Canada please contact: Michelle Diaz

The 411 on Music & Kids

Music Education Helps at-Risk Kids Stay in School
A recent study by Dr. Frances H. Rauscher of the University of Wisconsin found that at-risk children scored better in spatial and temporal reasoning skills when they received training in rhythm, piano and singing.

Music Education Improves IQ
A study by Dr. E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto confirmed that children receiving voice or piano lessons showed significant improvements in IQ compared with children who did not receive music instruction.

Music Improves Self Esteem
According to O.F. Lillemyr of the Norwegien Research Council for Science and the Humanities, there is a high correlation between positive self-perception, high cognitive competence score, healthy self-esteem, total interest and school involvement, and the study of music.

Music Influences Kids to Stay in School
According to the Centre for Music Research, Florida State University, 1990, courses in music positively influenced the decisions of high school students tracked not to drop out of school .

Music Helps Non-traditional Learners
Dr. Lassar Golkin found that children who were unable to learn concepts in a verbal school setting were able to learn the same concepts through these same kinds of (singing) street play and games. He developed the Interdependent Learning Model (ILM), which brings music games into schools for the purpose of teaching academic skills and content (California State University, Fullerton).

Why Guitars?

The guitar is the most popular instrument in the world, therefore a natural attraction to kids and teens. What kid hasn't played air guitar at least once while daring to dream of becoming a bigger than life star.

Guitars are portable.

And they are also relatively inexpensive.

In fact, many households have an old guitar around collecting dust -- the perfect item to donate to help change the world, one kid at a time!


Guitars are portable.


Taking Action

The idea for Guitars Not Guns began over a decade ago after Ray and Louise Nelson decided to become foster parents. Through foster parenting classes and training, the Nelsons learned about the plight of foster children, especially teens. The Nelsons learned that these children lead a nomadic life, sometimes living in four to six homes during their teen years. “Sometimes all they would have would be one bag of clothes – no one wants teenagers, you see,” says Nelson.

It didn’t take long for Nelson to realize these kids needed something to focus on, something to occupy their time in a productive way and hopefully instill some self-confidence in these kids. Nelson wanted to give them something to focus on to help them with their troubled and often tragic young lives. “It was either music or sports to occupy them,” says Nelson.

"I started collecting guitars and passing them along to foster kids. Then it went beyond that. People found out what I was doing and I started getting requests for guitars for poor and needy kids, and kids who had been sick. It kind of got me hooked.”

The Power of Music

Over the years, GNG founder Ray Nelson has witnessed first-hand the impact his program has had over young lives. “The changes are like day and night. The music gives the kids something to focus on, and when they start focusing, they do better in school."

Recalling one such success story Nelson says, “We had one boy named Daniel who didn’t really like himself, but he started taking lessons. He took to it like a duck to water and got a lot of one-on-one time. He ended up starting a teen band and it turned him around.” Another success story is that of a shy, 10-year-old boy who entered a talent contest at his elementary school about six months after he started taking lessons and took home first place. “I’m sure some of these kids will go on to make a name for themselves as guitarists.”

A Way of Life by Ray Nelson

To download a copy please right-click here.

In Memory of Eric Lea


As the First President of GNG Canada, Eric believed that we can change the world one kid at a time, by teaching kids to harness the power of music.

His fire and passion live on, as we reach out to Canada's kids, and show them that music, especially with an instrument as personal as the guitar, can stir the spirit and contribute to healing the deepest of wounds.