The work we do in education is what we are most proud of, and most thankful for, at Austin Classical Guitar. By entrusting us with your generous support, you make this vital work possible. On behalf of our entire staff and board of directors, I would like to thank you for believing in us. I hope this brief report and accompanying videos will make you proud of what you have helped create.
LARGE & SMALL
I have come to view our education initiatives in two different but equally important categories: Large and Small. Our large initiatives focus on program building and include curriculum development, teacher training, assessment, and consultation. It is through these efforts, including GuitarCurriculum.com, that rigorous, for-credit school-based guitar programs are established, refined, and expanded throughout Austin, the state of Texas, the United States, and internationally. We now have 55 local programs serving 3,500 students, and the educational quality, measured in individual student performance outcomes and system-wide through our district assessments and city-wide festival audition process, has never been stronger.
Our small initiatives are programs we create to meet the needs of specific constituencies. These programs include our Braille learning program at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, classes at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center, ensemble program at Austin Clubhouse for adults with mental health diagnoses, the Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra, and the Lullaby Project at Annunciation Maternity Home for teenage mothers and mothers-to-be.
CREATING A MOVEMENT
The work you support is having ripple effects throughout the nation and beyond. Last year we reported on the progress in St. Louis Public Schools, a program that continues to grow and attract attention and support. I visited there this month and saw over 100 kids in three of our 16 affiliated schools. They were engaged in high-quality learning experiences, including a public performance at Johnson-Wabash School in Ferguson for over 200 parents and siblings.
What is the practical impact of our curriculum, training and support? This month we received an update from a ten-year veteran music teacher in Canton, Ohio who attended our training this past summer. Since the training he has not only improved and expanded his own program, but adopted a vision to dramatically expand guitar education in his region.
Here is an excerpt of his December 13th letter that illuminates the kinds of effects our program is having:
After attending the Guitar Teacher Training in Austin, I was committed to changing how I approached guitar instruction in the classroom. I studied the materials that were provided by GuitarCurriculum.com and what was covered during the Austin training. I have to admit I was a little unsure how this would look in my classroom, I have had a guitar class for 10 years, but I was committed to applying the approach so I gave it a strong, committed go ahead.
I have to tell you I am blown away by the results! I would have never dreamed it would have transformed my class this much! I received immediate success from student engagement and standards-based skill mastery. This program has completely transformed how I approach the guitar classroom. It has actually opened up more creativity for my students and me as a teacher. It has allowed me to approach new music with more efficiency in teaching and arrange new music for my students more successfully.
[In addition to my middle and high school classes] I have successfully launched the Canton Guitar Society Outreach program to serve the students of Stark County. My district has now committed to expanding guitar through the high school levels 10-12 and at the McKinley Senior High School main campus. In short, thank you, and I am a huge supporter of ACG and GuitarCurriculum.com!
ACG Education in the Juvenile Justice System on PBS NewsHour: This story aired nationally in September 2015 and gives insight into one of our small initiatives, a program created to serve incarcerated youth. Our work is having such positive results that the Travis County Juvenile Justice System has asked us to design and deliver an expanded program in 2016 that would be offered to all 600-800 court-involved youth in the community as part of their case-plans.
Aly’s Lullaby: This video from June 2015 features a lullaby written by Aly, one of our young mothers at Annunciation Maternity Home. In our ongoing guitar classes there we see 12-16 mothers weekly, and at any given time we are individually engaged with two to four in the lullaby-writing process. If you would like to hear more recent lullabies, please ask! Just recently, Dr. Ted Held, who oversees women’s health services for Central Health, asked us to provide the Lullaby Project for women in Travis County Jail. We’ll start in January.
Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra: This November 2015 performance of Enrique Granados’ Villanescas gives a sense of the level of refinement being achieved by young guitarists in Austin.
Excellence in the Guitar Classroom: This July 2015 video created in collaboration with AISD provides an excellent overview of our largest education initiative, including the history and growth of the program, curriculum, teacher training, and assessment, and touches on important issues like the role guitar class plays in the district in providing equity and access for youth who might not otherwise be engaged in performing arts.
Our small programs will deepen and expand in the coming year, with the Lullaby Project in collaboration with Central Health, our Juvenile Justice partnership extending to case-plans for all court-involved youth, and much more. Our “large” programs will continue building and refining guitar education throughout Austin and beyond including, for example, a new rural program in Nepal and a national guitar orchestra program in Uruguay.
We hope you enjoy the videos provided with this brief report, and will happily expand upon any aspect of our program development should you have further questions. We thank you for your support.