Jazz professor teams with The Wonder Workshop to teach children guitar

Dr. Wayne Goins, distinguished professor and director of jazz studies at K-State is giving back to the community through his Hummin' and Strummin' guitar classes that he will be teaching over the next few weeks. (Ryan Manring | The Collegian)

Wayne Goins, distinguished professor of music and director of jazz studies, created the “Hummin’ and Strummin’” program, which features beginner guitar lessons for 8-12 year olds in the Manhattan area.

The classes will be held in the Wonder Workshop Children’s Museum and will be hosted by Richard Pitts, director of the museum.

The workshop, which provides after-school care, classes and other cultural events for children, has a vision to instill values alongside parents to make self-reliant children who are loved and cared for, Pitts said.

“Partnerships mean everything,” Pitts said. “Training people the right way has huge benefits and it’s because of the partnerships we can teach the right way. I would never have imagined (Goins) doing what he is doing. He is blessing these kids so much with his talent and expertise, and I can’t be more grateful for his interest to give back to the community the way he has.”

Goins said he is looking to give back both in and outside the classroom. He said he has a unique, personal relationship with Pitts and The Wonder Workshop that took root years ago,and has motivated his desire to serve ever since.

“Richard is like my brother from another mother,” Goins said. “He is one of those people whose whole purpose is to give something back to the community that is unique and special and needed, and that’s the same thing I am trying to do.”

Goins said he is passionate about giving back to a community that has given him support during his time in Manhattan, where he moved nearly 20 years ago.

“(Pitts) allowed both of my girls to be a part of the workshop program 15 years ago, and I just remembered how happy they were to be a part of the after-school program, and both of them ended up being volunteers and giving back,” Goins said. “He was so nice to them, was treating them as good as his own children and looked out for them so well. I told myself that one day I will be able to give back to that.”

Goins said he had talked with Pitts for years about doing some type of a workshop for children in the area who could not afford normal guitar lessons and to encourage a passion for music in them.

Pitts also said he has looked forward to this opportunity since the founding of the workshop.

“I’m at a point in my life where I can give the time, energy and resources, so I thought, ‘What better way to make a contribution to the community of Manhattan by teaming up with (Pitts) and add another dimension to his already successful program and help make it a little bigger and better?’ I’m just really happy to do it,” Goins said.

Goins said he donated 10 children’s guitars to the workshop and works with others to make the program a success.

Aliyah Stephens, owner of Madame Groove Records in Manhattan, said she has chosen to donate her time and music expertise to help teach the class alongside Goins.

“I have been teaching guitar for the longest time in the community time, and I was looking for an opportunity to continue to help kids in the community,” Stephens said. “I feel that, especially when we are struggling with funding for arts, for things we consider extra in society, which unfortunately music is one of them, opportunities like this are so necessary.”

Stephens said that having people in her life like Goins, who helped provide additional lessons and help for her when she was less fortunate and studying music, makes her want to give back in the same way.

“Without Dr. Goins, I wouldn’t be nearly the musician I am today,” Stephens said. “I wanted to have the chance to be that for some of these kids. I think that’s how we are helping the community. Arts and discovery are essential and so important to education, and that’s what The Wonder Workshop is doing.”

Goins’ classes, which are held each Saturday morning, give young students an hourlong lesson. The program started last week and runs through April 30 and is located at the Wonder Workshop Children’s Museum.