"Guitars Not Guns provides children with the opportunity to grow personally and musically. The impact goes beyond the classroom setting it teaches children that there is an alternative to expressing themselves through violence, but to express themselves creatively The program teaches one responsibility team work, music techniques and commitment. Although the program is 8 weeks the skills learned last a life time."
Children and Youth Services Coordinator
I felt myself begin to glow as I watched Victor sit behind his new guitar for the first time. I saw the sparkle in his eyes and the fire in his smile.
He had been here before, just as I had been at his age. Maybe it was playing air guitar to that Deep Purple song all guitarists know. Or maybe it was a few minutes with a friend’s Guitar Hero. Or maybe it was sitting on the edge of the bed for hours at a time, just as I did, picking carefully, and then hammering with abandon at the magic of six strings down. I had no way to know for certain. But I was sure he had never played Happy Birthday before. The next week, on his second day in class, he haltingly played the notes. Not only the first phrase he had been taught, but the entire song! The one he taught himself to play, after just one lesson.
Yes, I had been here before. It was so exciting to see it again! It was the wonder and frustration and perseverance and accomplishment that make music the gift it is. The Guitars Not Guns program supplied the guitars for the children to play. The players brought the magic. In each of them, the children who may never have loosed the music in their hearts, there was curiosity and joy at seeing the guitars they would be allowed to keep upon graduation from the level one program. There was such menace in the sore fingers they began to know immediately. But there was also music. The fingers would hurt less, in time. And the music started to flow more easily.
They began to see the benefits of practice and learn the new language of music written on a page. And how wonderful it sounded when the ensemble filled the room with a song!
The children probably never thought about what they might otherwise be doing in those moments, if music hadn’t graced their lives. But I thought about it. I wondered if they would be reading the books they might not even have. Or would they be learning to fight each other instead? Where would they be?
On graduation day, when their pictures were taken with their new guitars, I felt the glow again. I joined them in a Bob Marley song. And some of them came back to the classroom the following week, and every week after that.
Just to play.
By Meghan Currie
Member of Fred Victor Community