At ACG, we believe in the transformative power of music. We have witnessed firsthand how music can transcend boundaries, touch hearts, and make a positive impact in people’s lives. Over the past decade, we have been privileged to create and sustain Texas’ first and only daily, for-credit performing arts course for young people incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice system. Learn more about ACG Education and our Juvenile Justice programs here

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In my time at ACG, both as a student and now as Director of Communications,  I’ve had the privilege of witnessing transformation through music many times. Nowhere is it more profound than in our Juvenile Justice center concerts, and so when I got the date for our spring concert at the Williamson County facility I raised my hand to go. I and many other members of our community had the opportunity to see the group and wow, what an opportunity. 

About twenty of us went through security, and then eight more magnetic doors down various hallways before we finally entered the gym where six residents sat anxiously at the head of the room, guitars in hand. We sat on the right side of the gym while other residents, some family, and a handful of staff members sat on the left side of the gym. It was a full house!

Hector Aguilar, ACG’s Director of Juvenile Justice Education and teacher at Williamson County, was sitting amongst the performers as we entered. When he stood to greet the audience, he expressed his pride and gratitude for his students and the admirable work and dedication it took to prepare their spring concert; the students beside him stared at the large crowd that came just to hear them. You could see that they were both nervous and excited.

The concert consisted of a mix of solos, trios, quartets, and full ensemble performances. It was beautiful. It was profound. 

Not only was the music, their connection to Hector, and their musicality amongst each other so wonderful to witness, the energy each member of the ensemble carried was inspirational. 

When the first soloist performed, you could physically and energetically see an extraordinary shift. When his turn was up, he looked up at the other residents and staff, he looked over at the crowd from ACG, he looked at Hector, introduced the piece he was playing, and then finally he looked down at his fingers and took a breath. He played beautifully. His demeanor lightened as he heard himself playing well; he was thoughtful and musical. When he finished, he stopped the ringing of his instrument and looked up at the cheering crowd with a huge smile on his face. 

Every performance went in a similar manner. The nerves eased, faces lit up across the ensemble, there was excitement and celebration in every corner of the room. It was a joy to experience. 

The impact of an experience like this is immeasurable. As a musician who went through ACG’s guitar program at Crockett High School, I have felt firsthand the impact of working towards a creative goal, performing for a supportive audience, and feeling inspired to follow that feeling in every area of my life. 

For these young people, many of whom have faced significant adversity, this concert was more than just a performance. It was a moment of triumph, a chance to be seen and heard, to express themselves in a way that words often fail to capture. 

Experiences like this build confidence, a sense of accomplishment and pride. It goes beyond the notes they played and the applause they received; it touches their hearts and minds, fostering growth, healing, and hope. 

I’m so grateful I got to witness such a special moment. 

I asked Hector if he could share a few words about his experience working with these students and what the journey towards this moment was like. He shared, 

“For three years now, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with the talented students at the Williamson County Detention Center, guiding them through the beautiful journey of making music together. Each day we meet, we immerse ourselves in music, and their commitment and progress are truly remarkable. The weeks leading up to the concert were filled with a mix of excitement and nerves, but witnessing their journey from uncertainty to absolute focus on stage was nothing short of inspiring. Watching the students transform from nervous beginners to confident performers was nothing short of magical. It was a reminder of the incredible resilience and talent within each of them. One of the most unforgettable moments for me was seeing a student, who once doubted they’d ever have this opportunity, shine on stage with pride and focus. It’s moments like these that remind me of the profound impact music can have. This work moves me deeply because it highlights how music can transform lives, offering growth, self-discovery, and a sense of accomplishment. It’s a joy and an honor to witness how music helps them discover their potential and connect with something greater. This is why I love what I do.”

Learn more about our Juvenile Justice Education programs here. Support ACG here.