Xuefei Yang Photo
Photo by Arlen Nydam









I’ve been reflecting lately on the power of listening.

Music is about listening, of course. But so too, I believe, is community service.

New Direction

Last week we gave performances for residents at Safe Haven, Corona House, and Next Step-homes for individuals with mental health struggles. In November we gave our first performance of many at Austin Public Library. In the coming year we’re making a significant commitment to a whole new level of performance outreach.

In each of these cases we have responded to requests, and passed the needs presented to us through our sense of our capabilities, of our strengths, and of our mission. We were there because members of our community asked us to be there. The New Year will bring new direction, and the course will be charted together with you.

New Connections

Gardner Betts has asked us to double our service beginning this coming month so that all students in this juvenile justice facility will have the opportunity to take our guitar classes. Austin ISD has asked that we begin a brand new program in January at Garza High School, which employs a “solution-focused” alternative education model that’s achieving outstanding results.

A dear friend of ACG introduced us to a maternity home for young women in challenging circumstances who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy. Young mothers live at the facility, which has an onsite UT Charter School, for up to two years after the birth of their children. Two weeks from tomorrow they will take their first music class, which we will offer as an ongoing education course combined with our collaborative Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project.

More and more I am convinced that we do our best work at ACG when we think first of who we serve, and second of how we’ll serve them. We have found that the more carefully-constructed and flexible our programming is, the more deeply we are able to make a difference.

New Commitments

We have built, and now support, fifty thriving guitar programs in Austin schools. Our education team trained teachers in Houston last August and, next week, eight new Houston elementary and middle schools will begin classical guitar programs serving hundreds of diverse kids. We have even been helping raise funds in Houston to buy the instruments for some of the more challenged schools!

We traveled to St. Louis last July and worked with over 30 teachers there. Earlier this month we spent three intensive days in Austin with a talented and dedicated young teacher who will oversee the development of new St. Louis area programs, including two in the Ferguson School District that begin next week.

It’s simple: Without you our education program would not exist. Your support at Guitars Under the Stars, throughout the year, at our concerts, and during our Changing Lives Fall Fund Drive, makes ACG Education possible. This is your program, it’s a reflection of your values, and those of us privileged enough to work directly with it each day are thankful beyond words.

New Year

Austin Classical Guitar turns 25 in the New Year. For about ten years now we’ve been the largest classical guitar nonprofit organization in the United States. Colleagues elsewhere continually ask for advice to build their own organizations and services, and we help as much as we possibly can because we believe this:

The world is a better place with art and music.

On behalf of all of us at Austin Classical Guitar, I would like to thank you for placing your faith in us. I pledge that our team and I will work as hard as we know how in the coming year to make you proud of your commitment to us, and I pledge that we will listen.

With very best wishes for a bright and musical New Year,
Matt Hinsley, Executive Director

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