The Javier Niño Memorial Scholarship at Austin Classical Guitar exists to honor the memory of a wonderful young man who brought joy through beauty and kindness to countless people during his lifetime, and to support young classical guitarists in Austin, Texas — through scholarship lessons and other means — who show great promise and who will benefit from access to expert instruction and mentorship. For the 2022-23 school year, after reviewing applications from many talented student musicians across Austin ISD, two stood out. We are proud to award scholarships to both of these deserving young artists.


This week we had the opportunity to speak with Javier Niño Recipients, Aaron Degante from McCallum High School and Juan Rodriguez from Crockett High School and learn a little more about them. 

“I started my guitar journey in 6th grade at Lamar Middle School. I had never really been introduced to the instrument before that, I found it on my own. Guitar means a lot of different things to me; It’s one of my proudest skills, a stress reliever, my biggest passion, and much more. Guitar has become a big part of my life and I love it. So many opportunities have opened up to me because of the guitar. Opportunities that I never thought I’d get.

I see the Javier Niño Scholarship as an amazing opportunity to improve myself as a guitarist. I’ll be able to hone my self-taught skills with my teacher and learn new ones too! I’m still shocked about the whole thing and am excited for the new doors that come with it.

When I play guitar, I feel a sort of magical feeling. Like I can feel the music I’m playing, the emotion it’s trying to convey, like the music presence itself. Whenever I play guitar, I empty my mind. I think of nothing but reading the music. It’s really nice not thinking about what stresses me out. 

One day, I want to be chilling on a porch as an old man, and playing the guitar for my grandchildren as they watch in excitement.” – Aaron Degante

Aaron plans on attending Texas State University after his graduation and major in Physiotherapy with a minor in guitar. 



“I have been playing the guitar since 6th grade when I signed up for it as one of my electives at Bedichek Middle School and have stuck with it ever since. I really fell in love with the guitar and all its aspects. Being in guitar has introduced me to a whole community of people. I have met my best friends and people that I consider to be family because of the guitar. I am very grateful for the instrument because it has brought me close to wonderful people and experiences. 

Whenever I play the guitar, I feel at home. I feel at peace because I can just have fun and express myself freely. One of my favorite memories with the guitar was when I played a guitar and violin duet at The Rosette last semester. I felt so calm and I fell in love with the piece that we played. Everything that happened that day made me feel so appreciative because it was filled with friendship, fun, and being able to perform the hard work that I put into the music.

I have also been in the mariachi program at school for almost 5 years and fell in love with it just as much. Playing in those ensembles with other people requires communication and creates a musical connection because you need to click together to make the music click. In my case, those connections grew to become my best friends. 

I am very honored to receive the Javier Niño Scholarship because to me, it means that I am being given an opportunity to show who I am and that I have people who believe in me. 

I plan on going to college after I graduate high school. It has always been my dream to pursue something creative and artistic. I plan on studying guitar performance or music education because I love this world that I have been part of.

For me, A perfect future with the guitar would be mainly playing in a band, every weekend, for the majority of my life. I love performing and if I can spend the rest of my life having fun playing my guitar, I think that’d be a fun life.” – Juan Rodriguez

Juan plans to apply to UT Austin, UT San Antonio, and Texas state for guitar and Mariachi performance and music education. 

Learn more about the Javier Niño Scholarship here.

Read a beautiful reflection from Live Middle School’s Guitar Director, Meredith McAlmon here.