It is a very exciting time here at Austin Classical Guitar Society.

I was simply thrilled to see my Op Ed on arts education appear in yesterday’s paper.  And even more thrilled at the broad and positive response.

There was also a very nice overview of our educational services and the evolution of our program in the Texas Exes Alcalde Magazine that came out earlier this month.

And I can’t give links to ACGS education coverage without this amazing radio story from last December about our program in the Juvenile Justice System.  Wow.

If after reading this report you’d like to Support ACGS Education, please click here, or give us a call at 512-300-ACGS.

Big News

I am extremely pleased to report today that on Tuesday August 14th our education team launched our tutorial videos online.  These videos complement our online classroom guitar curriculum that was released in 2008 and is the backbone of our educational program.  The first set of videos to go live was about 50 instructional pieces.

This development marks the initial completion of our main strategic goal from 2009 when we first realized that, with increased usage by teachers worldwide of our materials, we would need to develop a scalable training solution not only to meet demand, but to enhance the overall quality of education children in our associated programs are receiving.

I am deeply thankful to our major sponsors, our individual contributors, and our education team, for making this extraordinary step manifest.

What it Means

We build high quality classical guitar programs in middle and high schools.  Arts programs engage kids in school in powerful and unique ways that have concrete, frequently studied benefits.  By making high quality music education programs on the guitar available, we engage thousands of young people in the arts who would not otherwise be engaged.

Locally, in central Texas, we provide over 120 hours of service per week in over 30 area schools to develop the best possible programs guided by our expert education team.  Outside of Austin we cannot be present, but our curriculum is a critical resource and we offer extensive phone and online support and frequent in-person training.

In both cases, our online curriculum has been the key to consistently excellent educational results, good retention rates, and high student achievement.

With the launch of our tutorial videos, we dramatically enhance our ability to communicate both fundamental and advanced concepts critical to excellent teaching in terms of technique, musicality, classroom management, student motivation, classroom pacing, sequencing, etc.  The videos are available to teachers any time, anywhere, and they are being fully integrated with the music library itself, so teachers will be invited to access them directly any time they download a new piece for their classes.  This development will help us both locally and abroad with our training efforts, while also providing benchmark examples for teachers who lack high quality models in their areas.

I would like to share a few comments I’ve received in writing this summer to help illustrate the extent to which our work, the work you are supporting, is changing the world:

“I wanted to let you know that one of my students is doing great learning how to read sheet music.  Using the guitar curriculum has been really helpful on baby-stepping into the classical guitar with excellent guidance and explanations of technique.”

– Ryan Fleming, Pokhara, Nepal

“As soon as we knew about the existence of it was for me (and I’m sure for many other teachers) like emergency oxygen while swimming in a deep dark sea without a tank!  The classical guitar in United States had a new face of hope. is a well-organized professional program ideal for teachers to use as a new survival tool.  This program allows everyone to learn how to play guitar and feel confident about it. is an example of what teamwork can do for our society.”

– Zaira Meneses, Boston, Massachusetts

“This email is long overdue, but I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic job Mr. Pearson is doing at Webb.  He has been extremely helpful with All City guitar students, and helping out during my 6th grade class in the morning.  Thanks for all of your continued support to our AISD teachers.”

– Dixie Yoder, Austin, Texas (Webb Middle School)

The Road Ahead

Our concrete immediate next steps include finishing recordings of the entire music library, full integration of the new video tutorial library into the rest of the curriculum including revisions of nearly all text-sequence materials, and rebuilding the web site to address a multitude of current technical limitations.  At the same time we need to implement and further develop strategies for marketing, educator service, educator support, and business management so that we best serve our teachers while developing a sustainable business model that will ensure our ability to serve long-term.  Local advocacy is quickly turning into statewide advocacy and we appear to be closer to All State Guitar in Texas – which will have far reaching ramifications.  We are also moving in the direction of one or more regional or national conferences on guitar education.

What we are doing is affecting the lives of thousands of young people.  I think it’s really important to stop and reflect on each remarkable individual.  From time to time I travel with our educators into the schools we serve, and I am always so moved by the concentration and dedication exhibited by the students as they strive for excellence and sculpted nuance.  I’m reminded of the amazing letter we received this past April from the twelve-year-old boy who moved out of our district to a school with no guitar class.  He ended an incredible letter to his new district’s Fine Arts Director like this:

“Playing classical guitar is a wonderful skill and hobby that would thrive in our district as it thrives in Austin.  We live in the “live music capital of the world,” and classical guitar is at our fingertips.  A school program would be affordable, appropriate for everyone, fun and beneficial to growing minds.  If only students here could be touched by the divine power of music as I have.”

Here’s a picture of 115 student classical guitarists with the Miró Quartet, Maestro Peter Bay conducting, October 1st, 2011 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater.  Performing as part of our “Austin Pictures” project from last year.  Watch the video here!