Dear Friends of ACG Education,

I often find myself overwhelmed by the beautiful stories that pour into ACG each week of individual transformations, of achievements by students and programs and communities, of young musicians who have shaped themselves into career educators, of our own team members who have extended themselves beyond what they thought they could do.

At the heart of it all is purpose and belonging. I truly believe that, as gentle as music is, it has a deep super power inviting people to join together, with their own dreams and with others, to make positive change.

You have believed in us, you have supported us, and on behalf of all of us here at ACG Education, I am so profoundly grateful. I hope what you find in this brief report will make you proud.

Thank you,



Matt Hinsley, Executive Director
Austin Classical Guitar


Often in reports like this we talk about the big systems — the curriculum, the communities, the training — that support all of our partner programs. I’d like to begin this report, however, with a glimpse into the experiences of a few individuals.

Jeremy Osborne recently passed his ten-year mark as ACG’s Assistant Director of Education. I love starting off with Jeremy because he absolutely embodies the spirit of purpose and belonging I mentioned above. Jeremy is the member of our team most fully deployed in schools, and has affected the lives of thousands of students and teachers.

We created a special page in honor of Jeremy’s ten years of service, and invited people to share their thoughts and reflections. If you’d like to read some of the many tributes that have been pouring in, from students and teachers to colleagues and a Travis County judge who has seen the impact of his work with incarcerated and court-involved youth, click here. For this report, I’ll just include one of those tributes. This is from former student Makena Smith:

Mr. Osborne didn’t just teach us how to play guitar. He taught us to work hard for success, to believe in ourselves, how to work as an ensemble, and how to support each other. He gave us challenges and made us proud to be a part of our guitar program. Mr. Osborne is one of my greatest role models and I will never forget the wisdom, opportunities, and experiences he gave my peers and me. There was not a day guitar rehearsal went by where we weren’t excited to see Mr. Osborne.


We had a tragic loss in our student family this past February when Javier Niño lost his life at age 19 as the result of a traffic accident involving an impaired driver. Javi first discovered guitar at Eastside Memorial High School, where he began studying with Jeremy Osborne. With Jeremy’s help, he practiced hard and won an audition that allowed him to transfer to McCallum Fine Arts Academy. At McCallum, Javi distinguished himself both as a soloist and member of McCallum’s elite Guitar Quartet. He also began private studies with ACG Performance Engagement Artist Joseph Palmer. After graduating from McCallum, Javi became the first in his family to go to college, attending St. Edward’s University as a Computer Science major this past fall.

In a speech from earlier this year about Joseph Palmer, he wrote:

I always admired how amazing Joseph played and how easy he made it seem. I was nowhere near his level then, nor am I now. However that helped me understand what determination is, and how to pursue it. Have you ever wanted something so badly that you are willing to set everything aside just to accomplish that goal? Well that’s exactly how much I wanted to become a great player, and I established my determination to do so.

With the help of an initial gift from a family close to Javi, ACG has created a scholarship to honor and celebrate this remarkable young man. To learn more about the Javier Niño Memorial Scholarship Fund, click here.

There was a deeply moving interview with Javier’s mother on KUT’s Texas Standard that aired May 9th. You can find it here if you’d like to listen.


We meet so many bright young people through our work in schools. Angelica Campbell was a guitar student at Crockett High School in south Austin who worked very hard, received ACG lessons, and decided to audition for music school. We gave her a beautiful, guitar that a woman in Colorado had donated to us with the request that it be given to a talented and dedicated student who could use a high quality instrument. Angelica’s now a junior at the UT Austin Butler School of Music, and we couldn’t be more proud! She recently wrote a lovely letter of thanks to ACG and the donor who made the gift of her guitar possible:

I would not have been able to reach where I am today without the support of ACG and their donors/supporters and I am so incredibly grateful for the organization and all of its members. ACG has helped me with lessons to prepare me for my audition, with giving me opportunities to perform, and with providing opportunities to see professional performances and to meet many of the world-renowned musicians that I look up to.

Thanks to people like you who are generous enough to donate what you can, they were able to provide me with these incredible opportunities. Thank you so much for donating your Aparicio guitar to ACG; because of your donation I was able to have an instrument to audition with to get into the classical guitar program at UT and to help me begin my career path. Through your generous donation I was able to have a beautiful guitar that I was proud to call my own and perform numerous events and school requirements with. I hope to meet you one day to share my gratitude in person! 


Ann Richards School for Girls Guitar Ensemble at Concert & Sightreading, April 2019

The bulk of our day-to-day education activity is devoted, of course, to supporting Central Texas programs. Our core team is responsible for curriculum and quality in the development of more than 50 area school programs serving over 4,000 students, and we have five teaching artists providing 30+ free individual lessons every week to our students in Title I schools.


We helped install a new teacher who’s now leading programs at three schools in the Manor School District. Those classes are thriving we’ve just learned they are adding two new programs in the fall. Students in our for-credit after-school program in Del Valle participated in our Concert and Sight Reading assessment event for the first time this spring and received all “Superior” ratings. We are projecting significant growth in both San Marcos and Dripping Springs, where enrollment numbers are dramatically rising and new programs are planned. Our Austin ISD programs continue to be large, beautiful, and occasionally volatile, with lots that are thriving, and a few that struggle with challenges like large class sizes and teachers having to divide their time between multiple campuses.

While we spend a lot of time in the trenches helping individual teachers and students, our team continues to be involved in statewide advocacy and standard-setting activities, most notably in the creation and administration of Concert and Sightreading (C&SR) assessment events for large guitar ensembles.

We have developed and run a C&SR event in Austin for seven years, and assisted – through modeling, training, and sharing of procedures and documents – in the development of similar events in Houston, El Paso, and Corpus Christi. This spring, our C&SR event at the AISD Performing Arts Center drew 43 ensembles with nearly 1,000 students participating. Each ensemble played a prepared concert performance in front of three external judges, and then sight-read newly created musical excerpts for a second panel of judges. The importance of events like this for defining and ensuring educational standards across many programs cannot be overemphasized.

Our chief advocacy goals in the coming years are to establish C&SR events in at least 15 more districts in Texas, with the ultimate goal of convincing the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to begin overseeing contest and assessment events for large guitar ensembles statewide.

This is critical because the UIL is the official authority in Texas that governs C&SR events at all levels for established, traditional large ensemble programs – primarily choir, orchestra, and band. While we are working hard to get UIL to add guitar ensemble to this list, as well as advocating for a process that would create an All-State Guitar Ensemble, we are probably still several years away. So for now, our education team largely manages the C&SR event we hold each year in Austin – developing the protocols, recruiting and organizing judges and participants, creating new sight-reading excerpts, even taking the photographs and ordering and hand-delivering trophies!

The UIL does oversee competition events for solo classical guitar, however. ACG has been engaged in an intentional 2-year plan to increase student participation in these contests by deploying our Performance Engagement Artist, Dr. Joseph Palmer. Joseph has been visiting guitar classes in schools across the region, giving concerts in which he plays music from the UIL’s list of approved contest pieces. Then, as students prepare the piece they have chosen for the contest, they can reference a video of Joseph performing it as part of the 30+ Tutorial Videos he recorded. Since this effort began, guitar student solo UIL participation has nearly tripled, making guitar one of the most popular solo instrument categories in our region (UIL Region 18).

One other standard piece of district-level guitar education infrastructure is All-City and All-Region Guitar Ensembles. ACG is heavily involved in administering both the audition process and performances by these ensembles in Austin, and we are also supporting similar efforts by our partners in other communities. Our most recent All-City and All-Region events took place in the fall; details can be found in our Fall 2018 Education Report.

As you can see from our current curriculum user map, we have many teaching partners around the state of Texas. We interact directly with our statewide partners through our annual National Teacher Summit in Austin, along with in-person and electronic consultation as requested, and by sharing guest artists and performance engagement opportunities as they arise throughout the year. It is also worth mentioning that in 2014 ACG created the Texas Guitar Directors Association to serve as an advocacy organization for classroom guitar teachers. In 2017 the TGDA held statewide elections that transferred the leadership of the organization to a board made up of teachers from across the state. Today TGDA is growing and functioning beautifully.

Juvenile Justice

Jeremy and Javier after the Sunday, Dec. 9th Concert at Gardner Betts

We are particularly proud this year to have seen a former student from our local school programs come full circle, joining our teaching staff as the new director of guitar at the Travis County Juvenile Justice Center (Gardner Betts). You can read some of Javier Saucedo’s story here. He is now a certified music educator, and a treasured member of our teaching team. It’s beautiful!

We are also pleased to report that our services for youth in the juvenile justice system will be extending for the first time to Williamson County, with an enrichment program launching this summer and for-credit guitar classes offered to residents in the county’s detention facility starting in the fall. Also this summer, the Travis County Probation Department has asked us to offer individual instruction to youth in the community who are court-involved but not incarcerated. The intention of that program is to engage these young people in an enriching activity that can help establish a pathway to new social and scholastic opportunities when school begins again in the fall.

We were encouraged to see six years of academic data from Gardner Betts comparing performance of students enrolled in our guitar programs versus students not enrolled. While it is always difficult to draw large conclusions or infer direct causality from data like this, the trends are nonetheless encouraging.

United States and Beyond

We are always on the lookout for strong, motivated partners who could benefit from some extra support from our team. With curriculum subscribers in over 40 states and 20 countries, there are always exciting conversations happening with existing and potential new high-level partners. These conversations and the relationships that develop can produce positively transformative results for students, teachers, and families in the communities we partner with. I’d like to share a few stories here.

James McKay’s 7th Grade Guitar Class

St. Louis: St. Louis Classical Guitar (SLCG) continues to do beautiful things, including growth in programming, building capacity to add a full time education director, and developing their own program in the St. Louis juvenile justice system. We have spent extensive time with SLCG assisting both with education and organizational development, and I strongly recommend you read this beautiful feature on their work from the National Endowment on the Arts.

Cleveland: Perhaps our favorite story of 2019 so far was the CBS This Morning feature about Cleveland Classical Guitar. It is so beautiful that I won’t say any more except to encourage you to click here and enjoy!

Ontario, Canada: We were delighted to discover what we believe to be the first published scholarly paper about our online guitar curriculum! The title says it all: “Has Classroom Guitar Education Come of Age? A Review of the Method.” It is perhaps the most detailed yet concise description we’ve seen of the tool we have been building since 2004 that is at the heart of all our classroom program building activities. You can read the paper online here.

Kathmandu, Nepal: We are simply thrilled to report that our program at the Early Childhood Development Center in Kathmandu is continuing. The new teacher, Ravindra Paudyal, trained internationally and has already begun making magic with the kids in the facility, which is a home for children of incarcerated parents founded by CNN Superhero Pushpa Basnet.

Guitar Education for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

The guitar program at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (video) is now in its ninth year. Two years ago, we realized that the world lacked a comprehensive tool for braille-based lifelong music learning on the guitar. With your generous support and 16 months of development, in July 2018 we launched, an online resource offering a sequential learning system that uses downloadable braille music files along with extensive audio guides to promote skill-learning in classical guitar and braille music literacy.

Our goal this year has been to expand the site with content supporting four additional skill levels, which will complement the initial four levels in place. With this Phase 2 addition, which includes 26 new pieces of music, we’ll have a system that will allow learners to progress to a point of fluency on the guitar in first position over several years of study, and make lots of beautiful, joyful music along the way! This will be a significant milestone for us. I’m thrilled to report that we have completed braille files for all 26 new pieces. In the coming months, the audio instructional guides will be prepared, and we are on track to launch the new levels in July, 2019.  


There is so much more to report! But I will stop there for this mid-year update. By the end of 2019 I look forward to reporting on major new developments with our core resource,, along with the launch of, the results of new training relationships, and many more beautiful stories of personal transformation.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for believing in ACG Education, and for believing in the power of music to change lives. If in reading this report you have decided you might like to get more involved with us in any way, please don’t hesitate to email me.

I would also like to take a moment to thank our amazing sponsors and institutional supporters, including:

City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Augustine Foundation, Webber Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Sue L. Nguyen Trust, Kaman Foundation, Still Water Foundation, the Rea Charitable Trust, Cain Foundation, Texas Women for the Arts, Kodosky Foundation, Lucy Ross Farland, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Tingari-Silverton Foundation, Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, Michael R. Levy, Texas Commission on the Arts, MFS Foundation, Sarah & Ernest Butler, the University Area Rotary Club, the Mitte Foundation, Shield-Ayres Foundation, the Skeel-Baldauf Family, Applied Materials, Bill & Lynne Cariker, Louise Epstein & John Henry McDonald, Long Foundation, Wright Family Foundation, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, Silicon Labs, 3M Foundation, Kendal & Ken Gladish, the Benavi Family, Austin Radiological Association, D’Addario Foundation, PwC, Urban Betty, Charles Schwab & Co., Burdine Johnson Foundation, Cindy Cook, William Metz, Karrie & Tim League, Austin Bar Foundation, Carl Caricari & Margaret Murray Miller, Rixen Law, Elaine & Michael Kasper, Victoria & Bill Donnellan, Bill & Mary LaRosa, Kerry & Carole Price, Bank of America Matching Gifts Program, Josh Stern & Reality Based Group, Tesoros Trading Company, Fiddler’s Green Music Shop, IBC Bank Austin, Savarez, Calido Guitars, and Strait Music.

On behalf of all of us here at ACG Education, thank you for your support, and I hope our work in the coming year will make you proud.