Throughout the month of March we will be shining a light on ACG Music & Healing. On March 25-26, we will present a concert of some of the most memorable songs created by Music & Healing artists and participants over the years. The concert is called We’ve Always Known, and we’ve never done anything like it. We hope you’ll join us! Learn more about ACG Music & Healing here.


In 2014 we were talking with Carnegie Hall. Our work each day in Austin’s Juvenile Justice Center was unique in America – it still is – and they wanted to know more. In the course of our conversations, they mentioned a new pilot they’d started, called Lullaby Project, and they invited us to become one of their first national partners. 

Caseworkers had approached Carnegie Hall for help with a problem. 

New and expecting mothers in two New York maternity shelters and at Rikers Island were facing high levels of stress and anxiety due to trauma and isolation, and it was having negative health outcomes for both mother and baby. The acute medical care and other treatments available in the facilities did not seem to be reaching the social and emotional levels that the caseworkers believed were critical factors.

Could music help?

Carnegie Hall came up with a simple and brilliant idea: pair highly-skilled, empathic, teaching musicians with each mom to visit, talk through hopes, dreams, and fears, write out feelings and letters to loved ones, distill those thoughts into lyrics for a song, compose, perform, and record that song, and then share and celebrate it with others. The results had been amazing. Not only were beautiful songs being written, the act of expressive creation itself had become a powerful medium for human connection, bridging isolation, meeting trauma with listening, and developing new narratives for the future.

We’ve been doing this work through ACG Music & Healing ever since, and it’s changed us.

We learned quickly that the space music creates is profound and unusual. Two people who don’t know each other can meet and connect deeply in the context of creation and expression. The music itself is a kind of emotional sandbox we can play in together, develop friendship, and create and experience beauty in a way that’s beyond words.

Over time we realized the same thing is happening in our education programs. Thousands of young people across our community are coming together each day to learn and make beautiful music and in those special moments are opportunities for belonging and kindness to nurture responsibility and perseverance. We realized it’s what we do in our community ensembles, in our concerts, and in our work together as volunteers and staff members.

I’m sharing this with you today for a couple of reasons. 

The first is at the end of this month we’re presenting We’ve Always Known at The Rosette, our first concert featuring songs composed in the course of our Music & Healing work. Please come! 

Second is that we’re in the midst of a March fund drive to support this work. We’ll invest over $800,000 this year in education and healing, most of which goes to artists in our community. A shift in government funding priorities has meant the loss of about $150,000 for ACG this year. To help bridge that gap we need help. Our board member Shannon Belcher made a matching pledge of $10,000 in honor of her parents which friends like you have helped us to meet. Inspired by Shannon, another amazing board member, Carson McKowen, has added an additional $10,000 in honor of his mother who recently passed away. Thank you Shannon, thank you Carson, and thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. 

If this is work you might like to support, I’ll place a link to donate below.

Thank you so much for your support, and for your belief in the power of music to do good in the world.

Matt Hinsley

ACG Music & Healing March Fund Drive