Teaching Guitar Workshops Strike A Chord With Charlotte District's Music Teachers

Mark Propst found a “unique” way to offer guitar instruction to his secondary music teachers this summer. Propst is performing arts specialist for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, schools.

The Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) and its partners MENC and NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) sponsor the Teaching Guitar Workshops. The summer classes prepare music educators to teach guitar classes to their students. Usually teachers apply individually for the program, taking new skills back to their individual schools. Guitar students go home with a guitar, guitar publications, and accessories, plus a scholarship toward three graduate college credits from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Teaching Guitar workshops like this one at MENC headquarters in Reston, Virginia, give members new classroom skills.

In June twenty teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will take the Teaching Guitar Workshops together and help implement a new guitar curriculum for secondary schools in the school district.

“A couple of years ago two of my teachers took the Teaching Guitar Workshop, and when they returned they supported a course proposal for guitar. We decided schools could start offering a guitar curriculum if they wanted,” Propst said.

However, there was one issue. “We wanted the teachers to be trained to offer guitar classes.”

The Teaching Guitar Workshops were the perfect solution. “I like the idea of everyone learning at the same time, and we will be able to offer a program that will attract students who aren’t traditional music students,” Propst said.

Glen McCarthy, chair of the Teaching Guitar Workshops, said, “This is a unique situation. In the future, we hope that fine arts/music supervisors in other parts of the country would follow Propst’s lead,” and sponsor workshops.

Propst said there was one issue, that of funding. He decided to seek a grant from the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte to pay for it.

Christie Kahil, program director for education at the Council, said she liked the guitar workshops for several reasons—the connection between reading and math skills and music, improving graduation rates, converting new students to the study of music, and professional development opportunities for teachers. She said the grant was about $7,000. “We believe the money is good investment,” Kahil said.

There are still openings for the traditional guitar workshops this summer, which are open only to MENC members. The Teaching Guitar Workshops offer both Level I and Level II workshops. Participation in Level II requires successful completion of Level I.

MENC members can apply for the 2011 Teaching Guitar Workshops. Workshop locations include Colorado Springs, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hampstead, New Hampshire, and MENC headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Past attendees say the workshop helped pave the way for launching a guitar program at their schools.

Propst said his teachers are looking forward to the June workshop, as is he. Propst is taking the workshop himself.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Arts and Science Council

Guitar Ensemble Performs at U.S. Department of Education

Roz Fehr, March 18, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education

Photo by Becky Spray