Buzzy Martin – Author of Don’t Shoot! I’m the Guitar Man

There aren’t many musicians  using their talents quite like Buzzy Martin. After years of working in juvenile halls, teaching music and spreading his message of "Education not Incarceration," word spread that the classes were changing kids’ lives and Buzzy was asked to teach a twelve-week music program at San Quentin State Prison. Three years and five months later, Buzzy finished his final class at the "Q.” As the author of Don’t Shoot I’m The Guitar Man, Buzzy gives us an depth, truthful and inside scoop of what it was like teaching music inside one of America’s top security prisons. Look for the motion picture Don’t Shoot I’m The Guitar Man in late 2012.

In your work as a music teacher with at risk children and also as a teacher with prisoners, what did you notice about how music changed lives in a positive or even therapeutic way?

I found music brought them to a place of innocence, fun, and a healthy place in their life where they felt safe and childlike.

I saw you won a lot of awards for your work with the at risk children, which one (if any) means the most to you and why?

All the awards that I have been honored with mean the world to me.  It moves my heart to be recognized for the work that I do with at-risk children.

Lets talk about Don’t Shoot I’m The Guitar Man. When you were asked to teach music and eventually perform at San Quentin prison were you influenced in anyway to say "yes" knowing Johnny Cash and Jerry Garcia had performed in prisons?

No, it never entered my mind about Johnny Cash or Jerry Garcia.  I knew when I was asked that it was an incredible opportunity that I had to do.

What inspired you to write this book about your experience?

I didn’t realize while I was in the parking lot relaying my messages and stories into a tape player that thes would become a book that would be read around the world.  My intention was just to remember the prison stories so that I could inform the kids in juvenile hall that going to prison is not a badge of honor.

In your book, you mentioned the word "freedom" a lot, what is one part for your life of freedom you will never take for granted again?

The word freedom means eating what I want, when I want, sleeping in my own bed, having the freedom to wear what I want, go where I want, and have self-expression.

Do you think that teaching at risk children and prisoners has made you more sensitive or  desensitized to the "troubles" of the world?

Absolutely more sensitive; my heart is very in tune with the troubles of the world today.

If you could put together any band, who would be in and what would your name be?

Tom Hamilton on bass and Joey Kramer on drums from Aerosmith, Slash on lead guitar, Sheila E on drums, Keith Richards on Lead Guitar, Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone. The Buzzy Martin Allstars

I love in your book when you said "share a song with someone everyday" I have adopted this into my life. Do you have any other great advice for us?

Smiles are free. Remember:  Education-Not-Incarceration Through Love, Hope, Kindness, Respect and Music!

For more information on Melissa and her practice please visit

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