Entertainment

Guitars Not Guns graduates another class

Thursday, July 02, 2009

There was a unique graduation ceremony held on Thursday night for some young people who may have found that music can change their lives. It's for a program called "Guitars Not Guns."

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For Shane, a guitar chord is the sound of opportunity. Glenn had never played a note until eight weeks ago. They're among the 12 students in the Guitars Not Guns graduation. They've been receiving free guitar lessons. It's music inspiring choices.

"These kids don't have much in their life. What we do all volunteers, we come in and set a goal for them, inspire them or way or another," says Bruce Johnson, a volunteer music instructor.

Guitars not guns is about changing lives, changing directions.

"When they were disciplined enough to play guitar and learn to play they would do better in school and it just builds confidence," says Barbara Gorin, from the Guitars Not Guns program.

The youngsters live in Lakeside Apartments, a place for low income and special needs families. Neighbors say music has brought change.

"It's really helped a lot from the graffiti to kids running round causing a ruckus. They have something to look for," says resident Tiffany Thomas.

And students' families get involved.

"Sometimes they say I should practice more, and if I keep on practicing I could get better," says 11-year-old Natalie Ramos.

Cordell Pearson, 8, got his first taste of an electric guitar. He has six sisters and he's the only boy.

"They said 'I want to play the guitar.' I said 'It's too late,'" says Pearson.

Today's graduates can be hopeful that music will be a part of their future, inspired perhaps by the band, Devil's Angels. The members are all of 12 and 13 years old.

"And for them to also realize that people care about them," says Resident manager of the Lakeside Apartments Lina Ortiz.

And one special surprise came at the end of the night as the teacher announced, "You get to keep the guitar, but you got to keep practicing," and encouraged the kids to keep the music going.

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