Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Studio Music and Jazz (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rachel L. Lebon

Second Committee Member

Kathryn Reid

Third Committee Member

Gary Lindsay

Fourth Committee Member

Reynaldo Sanchez


A musical curriculum with an accompanying vocal workbook was created for the specialized needs of the Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO). The GOGO program is a non-profit outreach program that provides mentoring and musical instruction to at-risk middle school students through the use of popular music. Partnered with CIS (Communities In Schools) of Miami and the University of Miami, the Guitars Over Guns Organization represents an effort to keep students engaged in positive activities and provide an alternative to negative influence. GOGO offers ensemble experience as well as individual musical instruction for voice, guitar, piano, drums, rap, and trumpet. To the author’s knowledge, no existing music curriculum addresses the particular needs targeted by this outreach program, which incorporates the GOGO vision of specialized instructional methods directed towards a specific student demographic. The curriculum developed for this essay focuses on the implementation of musical instruction and instrumental technique, as well as written music theory, rehearsal and performance etiquette, and practice and problem solving skills. Most importantly, an accompanying Vocal Workbook, using popular musical examples, was created for the purpose of reinforcing musical concepts and theory, as well as providing a visual and interactive method that encourages students to practice outside of the program hours. In addition to the current workbook and materials, future workbooks will be developed for the program, evaluated, and ultimately incorporated into the evolving curricular approach of the Guitars Over Guns Organization. To ensure a well-rounded and legitimate curriculum, the GOGO curriculum and workbooks will be created in alignment with the National Standards for Music Education. The curriculum used by successful non-profit music outreach programs such as the Berklee City Music program, the Harmony Project, Little Kids Rock, and Musical Futures will be evaluated for methodology and efficacy, and subsequently taken into consideration in further developing the GOGO curriculum. Finally, insight gained from the past four years of the author’s personal teaching experience in the GOGO program will continue to influence the development of the curricula and workbooks for the Guitars Over Guns Organization.


music education; Guitars Over Guns Organization; popular music curriculum; at-risk youth