The year 2020 marked the second year that the Gold Canyon Arts Council collaborated with the Lead Guitar program at Four Peaks Elementary School in Apache Junction.
Lead Guitar, a nonprofit based in Tucson, sponsors more than 70 guitar teaching programs in five states. In 2019, the Gold Canyon Arts Council donated 10 three-quarter-size, nylon-string guitars; gig bags (nylon/canvas cases); and electronic tuners to support the new Four Peaks Lead Guitar program. Only four students completed the 2019-20 program, but more than 20 students have joined this school year’s program.
Bart Muller, music teacher, serves as teacher of record for the Four Peaks Elementary program and is supported once each week by a Lead Guitar professional guitarist.
He recently contacted Ray Cunningham, Lead Guitar liaison for the arts council, for help in outfitting his greatly expanded program. Four Peaks Elementary, 1785 N. Idaho Road, already had acquired 15 more guitars for the program, but they lacked gig bags to protect them from damage when not in use or being transported, and electronic tuners, which are essential for new students because tuning a guitar without them is an acquired art and a significant challenge.
Mr. Muller asked if the arts council would consider providing these accessories as he needed to check out the guitars to the students for instruction and practice while at their residences. Mr. Cunningham contacted Gold Canyon Arts Council President Carole Lindemann in this regard, who in short order secured the approval of the board of directors to purchase and donate these accessories to Four Peaks. Mr. Cunningham then placed an order for them with Milano Music in Mesa, which had agreed to supply them at a 52% discount off their retail prices.
Ms. Lindemann and Mr. Cunningham turned over the gig bags and tuners to a delighted Mr. Muller at Four Peaks on the afternoon of Dec. 9. All students at Four Peaks currently are learning virtually from their residences due to current Arizona COVID-19 guidelines, although hybrid learning via classroom instruction two days per week had been possible occasionally.
The Gold Canyon Arts Council partners with Lead Guitar at eight other such programs at elementary and secondary schools located along the Old West Highway from Apache Junction to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Not all of them are currently active due to the loss of or change in a music teacher/Lead Guitar teacher of record or change in a senior administrator, but all schools want Lead Guitar programs to be available for their students. Mr. Cunningham is working with these school officials to restart their programs.
Editor’s note: Chuck Cuffaro is in charge of publicity for the Gold Canyon Arts Council. Go to goldcanyonarts.org.