Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Our students at Citrus Grove Middle School gave their Guitars Over Guns experience the Hollywood treatment when they filmed, directed and starred in their very own documentary movie!  The 30 students wanted to show the world a behind-the-scenes peek at their day-to-day experiences in our program at Citrus Grove, from the first day of the 2018-19 school year through the end of their first semester. From interviews and vox pops, to snippets of live performances, to scenes of a fun birthday celebration and a very special music “karate belt” ceremony, the students captured the excitement, challenges and humor of life as a middle school musician. Shoutout to mentors Zander Ambrose, Kim Cameron, Alejandro Elizondo, Leo Mayorga and Russ Speigel for letting these kids’ creativity take them to Hollywood and back! Did somebody say Oscar buzz? Watch Citrus Grove: THE MOVIE – Parts I & II...
Looking Back: Miami Edison Middle School

Looking Back: Miami Edison Middle School

We’re looking back on major milestones as we celebrate our 10th anniversary! In today’s blog post, we’re throwing it back to 2011, when we expanded our program to reach a second school site, Miami Edison Middle School. With 24 students, our Edison site joined our flagship site at North Miami Middle School to serve even more youth from some of Miami’s most disadvantaged communities. Following our first year working with Edison, 92% of our students were promoted to the next grade level on time, and Miami Edison was recognized as having the number one attendance rate in the district. Though Miami Edison Middle School closed its doors in 2014, we remain so proud of our Edison alumni. We moved on to work with youth at Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School (formerly Allapattah Middle School), and have grown to reach many more sites in Miami and Chicago! From only two program sites in 2011, to twenty-one sites and counting in 2018, we’re thrilled to continue impacting youth in our community through the power of music and...
Looking Back: North Miami Middle School

Looking Back: North Miami Middle School

It’s 2018, and here at Guitars Over Guns, we’re looking back on 10 incredible years of making music and changing lives. Way back in 2008, our very first program was launched at North Miami Middle School. We partnered with Communities In Schools of Miami to begin offering no-cost music instruction and mentorship to NMMS students. Right away, it was clear that something magical was taking place. Little did we know, however, that this one little program at one local middle school would ultimately grow into a 10-year journey reaching more than 3,000 youth in Miami and Chicago! We couldn’t be more proud and grateful to be celebrating this milestone anniversary and reflecting on the impact our programs have had on our community’s most deserving youth. Here’s to another 10...
“It’s just a matter of time”

“It’s just a matter of time”

by Miami mentor Leo DaVincci Stepping into Brownsville Middle School, I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. When I was asked to change from Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School in Allapattah, I was a bit hesitant, not because of what I had heard about Brownsville, but simply because I was very attached to the culture we have at Georgia Jones. Brownsville has had a bad stigma, known as a school with bullies, gangs and negligent teachers and staff. As we started the school year, we were told that they were in the midst of change throughout all staff including new teachers and a new principal. This particular change has included a new culture – a new vibe to the school if you will.  Alongside its other after-school programs (Allstars & Girl Power), Guitars Over Guns comes in to fit like the glass slipper for Cinderella, filling a vacant area the school had yet to offer. In our first couple weeks, the kids were a bit skeptical but still willing to hear us out. Bullying was one of the first things we established as something unacceptable in this musical environment, a message we wanted them to carry out during the school year. One example was one of our 6th graders, who was being picked on right in front of me and who within seconds ran out of the classroom crying. When approached, she kept saying she didn’t want to participate, let alone be there. That’s when Mr. Devakonda (a 6th-grade math teacher at Brownsville)  and myself told her this was not right and that we didn’t want her to...