For our ACG Fall Fund Drive, we’re sharing stories on our Changing Lives Storyboard of ways music has changed our world, and how our community helped make it happen. Consider supporting ACG today!

Fourteen years ago, Austin Classical Guitar recognized the need for an improved system of school-based guitar education comparable to established programs in choir, orchestra, and band. Three years later, we launched Now used internationally by hundreds of teachers serving tens of thousands of students, “” is a comprehensive teacher resource that includes a searchable library of original, pedagogically-sequenced ensemble literature, sight reading, and audio and video tutorials, all espousing a powerful core educational philosophy of “expressive, beautiful music-making from the very first day.”

We’ve been talking to teachers around the country – and the world – about how they use our curriculum, and wanted to share Jane’s story with you. The following is the first installment of our three-part series.

Originally a museum curator and folklorist in St. Louis, Jane Vidrine is a guitar teacher and musician in Lafayette, Louisiana. A few years ago she was named the Lafayette Education Foundation’s “Teacher of the Year,” and she’s part of a two-time Grammy-nominated, all-female Cajun and Creole band called the Magnolia Sisters.

Jane traveled to Louisiana after her friend, Nick Spitzer of NPR’s “American Routes,” enlisted her help with the Louisiana Folklife Pavilion at the New Orleans 1984 World’s Fair. She’s been in Lafayette – the “Hub City” and the state’s center of Creole culture – ever since.

Jane Vidrine, far left

After moving to Louisiana, she continued to do cultural programming and museum curation for a while, but turned her attention toward education when she and her husband had two children.

“It was the beginning of the French immersion program at their school, and here we were in the heart of Cajun and Creole music, and they weren’t teaching music in French,” Jane said.

She wrote some grants to place herself in the classrooms, teaching Cajun and Creole music in French as a field work and archival project. She became “one of those classic itinerant teachers teaching seven different classes in three or four different places every day.”

“I knew the language of folklore and the language of music, but I decided at that point I needed to learn the language of education. So I went back to school and got my Master’s in Education.”

One day about twenty years ago, a girl in her middle school French immersion class said, ‘Miss Vidrine, you’re always teaching us with your guitar. Why don’t you teach us guitar?’

When Jane inquired about a guitar class, her principal said, ‘If you can recruit the students, you can do it.’

Jane only had six students the first year, but her conviction to bring students into the community for exposure to authentic performance settings enabled the word to spread quickly. During a student performance for a principals’ luncheon, one of the principals rushed up to her afterward and said, “I need you at my school.”

To be continued in Part II