MarcumFor the past nine years, I have directed Austin Classical Guitar’s education team in building a flourishing guitar community for Austin students and teachers. What began in one school with one class of 20 students has expanded to serve 50 schools and more than 3,000 students locally.

Each day we see teachers working tirelessly, often in difficult situations, to help their students become refined, joyful musicians. We work with students who are navigating complex lives full of unique and difficult obstacles because we believe that talent and artistry are not luxuries reserved only for those with means. In the midst of individual hardships and complications, these students spend hours playing the guitar because it is meaningful to them. As one young student recently said so eloquently, “I play music because it is real and it feels human.”

Austin Classical Guitar has long been committed to bringing quality music education to students without access to the arts. As part of this commitment, we began a guitar program at Travis County’s Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center in 2011. Teaching these students over the past four years has been a great honor, and they have changed my life and inspired me in profound ways. I am thrilled to say that, because of these students’ success, the program will expand this spring with support from Austin ISD.

Not a day passes when I’m not reminded that there are still so many opportunities to bring meaningful music experiences to people from all walks of life—whether it’s teaching an ensemble of 25 enthusiastic employees at Silicon Labs on their lunch break or starting a new program at Annunciation Maternity Home for young women experiencing unplanned pregnancy. It is your support that allows us the privilege to bring these experiences to the Austin community.

I look forward to seeing you in 2015, as we continue to foster a community of creative education and inspiration.


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