We’ve been thinking a lot about togetherness, about how finding spaces of belonging and shared purpose allow us to make positive change. We believe music has a lot to teach us – in its gentle way – about coming together with intention. So we’re beginning a new series of Hopeful Things: stories and music centered around belonging and transformation. 

One of our summer interns, Cindy De Blas, began guitar as a freshman at KIPP Austin Collegiate. We’re so grateful to her for sharing the story of serendipitous circumstances surrounding her introduction to classical guitar, and the way in which it grew to be a significant part of her life.

When I moved into KIPP Austin Collegiate, my middle school mind interpreted this as the end of a perfect life. I had carefully planned my high school years with best friends and classes. However, what I didn’t know was that acceptance into KIPP would introduce me to my love of guitar and to the ACG program.

I suffered many emotional tolls my first year of high school: I was taken away from close friends, and I suffered an accident that left me in crutches. Then I was introduced to Mr. Klenzendorf’s classical guitar class, where I found a wonderful instrument that would eventually turn into my passion. I had always told myself that one day I would sit down and learn guitar – apparently, I just needed to injure my leg for that to happen.

To this day I believe that my foot injury was the greatest accident of my life, as it allowed me to sit down, reflect, and find my true happiness.

When starting to play the guitar, I was learning not only about the instrument, but also a lot more about myself. I saw that I was capable of creating beautiful things through an instrument, that though I may have been soft spoken, I was still able to let my feelings be heard through the strings of my guitar. Days where I would be frustrated from school, I would play music and wash my worries away.

By portraying my emotions through music, I was able to learn new techniques: I would show my anger with strong fortes and my sadness with light plucks of the string.

These strategies allowed me to give my all in every performance with my high school guitar ensemble. With every passing day, and year after year of playing, I fell in love with the instrument and began envisioning myself in a career with music. 

Mr. K would treat my class with field trips to concerts by famous guitarists at the AISD Performing Arts Center. I was given the opportunity to experience many performances of guitarists from different countries, and every single one of them left me in awe.

Ana Vidovic

One concert that will forever be engraved in my heart is the first female guitarist I ever saw, Ana Vidovic. I remember how excited I got when Mr. K showed us a video of her playing Asturias by Issac Albeniz – I could not get enough of it. That day I went home and listened to the song on repeat and tried to perform her technique. I tried and tried, and I got a glimpse of victory. I learned that day that too much practice really does tire you out, and while I may not be a phenomenal guitarist like her, I wanted to show others my love for guitar.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and placed myself as section leader to help a small section of younger students improve their performance and technique. Through this opportunity, I learned that I thoroughly enjoyed helping others in their performance, and I felt so much joy when seeing their improvement. That is when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music education.


Every year since I began playing guitar, I have attended ACG concerts hosted at the AISD Performing Arts Center. During every concert I always learn something new about the guitar’s history or technique. Something that has always stuck with me is how guitarists use various parts of the guitar to mimic other instruments, such as how flamenco guitarists use “el golpeador” as percussion. Flamenco songs on guitar really do bring out the sensitivity and strength of the guitar. The speed and agility of these flamenco artists is impeccable.

After concerts I always listen to the musician’s songs nonstop, visualizing their special techniques, and learning the history of their work. It’s always a fun adventure to listen and learn from these guitarists, how they were introduced to the guitar and their culture’s specialty in guitar. There is so much more to the guitar than what I thought, and thanks to ACG I am learning more and more! Thanks to the many concerts I have attended, I’ve fallen in love with flamenco music – which is why I now own a flamenco guitar. 

I will forever be grateful to Mr. Klenzendorf and Austin Classical Guitar for allowing me to listen to the different sounds of the world, for expanding my knowledge of the guitar, and for allowing me to fall in love time and time again with the most wonderful instrument.