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One of the programs we're most proud of at is the course at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, currently in its fourth year.


The teacher at TSBVI, Jeremy Coleman, is a classical guitarist with master's degrees in both Music Therapy and Music Education.  He began the program as a contractor with Austin Classical Guitar and, this summer, became a full-time employee of the school - as well as the proud father of twin girls!


We asked Mr. Coleman to tell us a little about himself, his work with visually impaired students, and his recent full-time appointment:




On July 27th I was delirious, lying on the hospital couch, looking at my phone. I remember the day vividly. My wife had just giving birth to our twins, Chloe Page and Greyson McCartney, the day before. As I lay on that couch thinking how my life had changed, I noticed an email on my phone.


The email was from the principal at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). He said that he was very impressed with my work with TSBVI guitar students the last three years, and that a full time music educator position was posted on their website.


I thought to myself: what a great time to start a new job!


It's hard to believe that it has been three years since ACG and TSBVI began their collaborative effort.  In 2011, both parties agreed that starting a guitar ensemble would be beneficial for the students at TSBVI. At that time I was working part-time as a guitar teacher, implementing ACG's in two schools, while working part-time as a board-certified music therapist. With my background in classical guitar and music therapy, the staff at TSBVI and ACG thought I would be a great fit to teach the class. And they were right!  It was so rewarding to provide enriching musical experiences to these wonderful students on a daily basis.


My objective was to teach TSBVI students the skills of classical guitar performance. As part of my graduate work at UT Austin, I decided to examine whether could be used effectively with students with visual impairments. My plan was to follow the curriculum course outline with no modifications. If students needed additional assistance, like Braille music notation or assistive technology, I would provide theses accommodations on an individual basis.


Within the first year of instruction, five high school students with no prior guitar experience achieved the knowledge and skills of levels 1-3 of the curriculum. These students performed numerous times for peers, parents, and school administrators, both on and off-campus. Over the following two years students achieved similar results.


Now that I am working full time at TSBVI, I am able to implement the principles of the with multiple classes - and to reach that many more students. In addition to the junior high and high school guitar class, I am implementing the Elementary Primer with a group of younger students with visual impairments. I am also continuing to transcribe some of the repertoire pieces from the music library into Braille music notation, which is quite an extensive task!


It is my hope that all students, both sighted and visually impaired, will have access to the things they need to become life-long learners and lovers of the classical guitar.


Jeremy Coleman