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GOGO Benefit Concert: A Performance Dedicated to a Hopeful Future

By Michèle Bigler

Guitars over Guns, better known as GOGO, is a praiseworthy organization that caters to at-risk children by providing them with after-school jam sessions, instruments and musical mentors, ultimately aiming at steering them away from gangs, guns and the like. The founder is local musician and Spam All Stars band member, Chad Bernstein, also crowned one of CNN’s heroes. A recent visit to one of the afternoon sessions at North Miami Middle School gave us insight into the inner workings of the exemplary foundation and its hands-on tactics which evidently produce direct results.

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The North Miami Middle School students can choose between rap, vocal, piano, guitar and the trumpet. They have ready mentors that coach them through the process and even encourage exploration between the instruments. One of the students, Jeremiah was taking his hand at the trombone and when asked why he had chosen the instrument he replied, “I wanted to try something new and different. I’ve already played all of the other instruments.” The curiosity that Jeremiah exuded clearly demonstrates that the program is working. Witnessing the students first hand only drew an inverted picture of the musician and his fruition from the core. One can truly observe how it all begins with practice and dedication. Every musician commences by repeatedly playing the same three notes until they reach perfection. These values translate to everyday life and establish a sense of perseverance and purpose in the students. 

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Xavier Gustave was welcoming with inquisitiveness and made everyone feel right at home. Later on, we were able to observe him flawlessly rap the words to his favorite Eminem song “I love the way you lie.” Afterwards, the ladies in vocal gleefully confirmed their dreams of becoming singers. There was a harmony in the room that is rarely seen in classrooms. Kids of all ages proved to be working together. Although the noise was standard for a middle school classroom, the pupils swiftly quieted down and paid close attention to Gene Gaylor’s lead. This is a program guided by gifted and passionate musicians looking to give our youth the opportunities that they should all have access to, it is a verifiable and zestful project worthy of the community’s support. 

GOGO will be hosting a benefit concert entitled “Choose your Sound” at The Fillmore on Saturday, November 21, 2015 featuring local bands Locos por Juana and Tony Succar, hosted by NBC 6’s Roxanne Vargas. The concert is your chance to have a direct effect on our community and the future of South Florida’s students. 

For more information on GOGO, please visit www.guitarsoverguns.org

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