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 second installment of our three-part series.

Over the past twenty years, Jane Vidrine has built a guitar program up from nothing at the LJ Alleman Fine Arts Magnet Academy. She now teaches about a hundred 5th-8th graders in seven classes a day. For years, she was the only classroom guitar teacher in all of Lafayette.

LJ Alleman Fine Arts Magnet Academy Guitar Class

She found after searching for ensemble music, and six years ago, she attended Austin Classical Guitar’s first Summer Teacher Training Workshop.

“I was looking for ways to grow the program up into high school and down into elementary school. At that time, there was very little online. If you searched for ‘guitar ensemble music,’ forget it. It was almost non-existent.”

She uses the Curriculum primarily for the repertoire, finding the division of levels within music to be the most helpful.

“Even in an advanced piece, there will be some part for your student who’s more challenged. I think the thought process behind the pedagogy is just outstanding, it’s so solid.”

“ represents for teachers what we see in front of us everyday: students from all levels, and all kinds of challenges.”

She’s faced a number of unique challenges in the classroom. Until last year, her school ran the hearing impaired program of her parish, and this year, it’s home to students on the autism spectrum. She’s also taught several students with visual impairments.

Courtesy of KADN News

Jane has taken an innovative approach to building her program. To create a pipeline from elementary school music classes into her middle school guitar programs, she developed and wrote a grant for a ukulele program called “The Ukulele Suitcase.” She has about three dozen ukuleles which she loans  to teachers, and offers annual training workshops for elementary music educators. The idea behind starting with ukulele is that tiny fingers can negotiate the smaller instrument more easily, which builds basic skills that are then transferable to guitar.

Although high schools in Lafayette didn’t have guitar years ago, so many of her students were entering the high schools that parents demanded they offer guitar classes. The Lafayette Magnet Arts Academy guitar program, a direct stem from her alumni, has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Jane’s middle school.

“It’s building by itself, not because of anything I personally have done, but because students coming out of my program ask for the class, and other schools see how successful my program is. It’s more a supply and demand thing.”

“Austin’s program is sort of our dream.”

To be continued in Part III