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Gregg Hammond / Press

“I journeyed in search of meaning of life, and a reason for mine. At the end of 2007 I used the process of envisioning as I had learned in wilderness survival school/spiritual questing to create a program in my mind’s eye, that would be proactive in being an effective tool for social change, mentoring youth, using music and guitar specifically, and would harness my skills as a teacher, my desire to be a great philanthropist, musician to set an example for other folks who faced similar doubts about how to find their passion and then actually live it on a daily basis. The Guitars Not Guns program has awakened my personal story and how to tell it. I am going to write the book that changes the world, and I am forever grateful for the experience of Guitars Not Guns triggering the right stuff in my spirit to embrace the task.”

“ The Guitars not Guns Program was introduced to students at our school last year as an avenue for inner city, urban students to explore options to the proliferation of violence among youth in Washington , DC . Our high school is a therapeutic day school for students with learning and emotional disabilities. When told about the program, initially, I was hesitant to embrace it because my thinking at the time was that our students probably would not be receptive because they would not be learning ‘gangsta rap’ or “hip-hop.” After exploring the inner landscapes of the Guitars not Guns Program, I agreed to move forward and introduce it to our students. By all means, it is probably one of the best decisions that I have made as Principal of the high school program at Rock Creek Academy . Our student participants are eager and enthusiastic about their weekly adventure. Other students are trying to get into the program. I have had the pleasure of observing our participants.”

““One student who came to my class was known by all of the school therapists as the ‘silent one’ who wouldn’t talk to anyone at the school. I handed a guitar to her, played the song ‘Set Me Free’ — I had that student talking before the end that class,” says Hammond. “The teachers claimed it was a miracle. The therapists at the school requested permission to attend my classes. I agreed. They came each time to observe why the results where so strong.””

"The dream I have had in my heart for a while: I would like to have some of the GnG students perform their song "Set Me Free" at the White House for the President and First Lady and family, staff, guests. The reason is simple and profound. If this can happen it proves that our current administration believes in reaching out to our at risk youth and foster care children by showing that you don't have to be Mick Jagger, BB King, Jeff Beck or Paul McCartney to be able to play at the White House. Through caring mentors and generous donations these GnG students have learned to play a guitar, and been able to earn it. Now let's let them play it, and perform!"

“Growing up as an at-risk youth, and having an electric guitar that I wanted to learn to play, but having no teachers available to me I ended up in the streets getting into trouble. I came very close to going to prison. Music, and guitar specifically, was what moved me away from that troubled life. The song "Set Me Free" brings the message that music and playing guitar can make a difference in a way that no other thing can. We all have music inside of us, and if the seed is nurtured it will grow into something magical and joyous. I wrote the song for the students of GNG to play and sing and feel the power of the music inside of them and express it. ”

““One of the most important things that we can do as a society is to include music in our local communities. We can reach across the divide of cultures with music. We can bring forth change with music. We can and we must embrace the power of music. It is a very important thread in the fabric of our consciousness as a society.””

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