ACG Education: A Letter from Lennox Kolics

One of our favorite parts of ACG's mission is building deep connections and watching the beauty of them unfold. Here is a letter from one of our dearest connections from our ACGYO program, Lennox Kolics. Learn more about Youth and Community Ensembles here. 

My name is Lennox. I’m barely an adult, but I’ve ventured out on a lot of limbs trying to figure out what will propel my life. At the heart of it all, I’m a lover of stories, and this is mine so far. 

I began playing classical guitar when I was 5, and it was the only extracurricular I was able to stick to. In 6th grade, my private instructor Matt Hinsley recommended I audition for the ACG Youth Orchestra that Joe Williams was starting up, leading to the best decision I’ve ever made: joining the ensemble. It was invigorating and new, challenging and tiring, but rewarding above all. During the first few years, I was always the youngest member yet had been there the longest, so it feels like the ACGYO and I grew up together. Our repertoire expanded and became more advanced, we performed at increasing frequencies for crowds of all sizes, and we ventured further from home to share our music. As I evolved as a human and musician, so did ACGYO. Under the guidance of the nonpareil Dr. Joe, we developed the trusting give-and-take of ensemble music-making, and I came to understand the intricacies of the relationship between fellow ensemble members, the conductor, the music, and our instruments. Over the years, breathing life into the scores before us and making the pieces our own became instinctual -- we didn’t just play songs anymore, we made them into stories. It wasn’t primarily about getting it right, but about creating beautiful things together; I came to see that that’s what life is about too. 

As I tried to translate this into my future, ACG helped me explore the possibilities as an intern. There was no coffee-fetching, just guidance and trust as I worked alongside various teams. When I expressed interest in audio engineering, they immediately got me to a studio, and now I’m in college studying Music Technology and Film, continuing to do A/V work with ACG. Without ACG, I’m not sure I’d have all the answers that they gave me through music. I wouldn’t understand what beauty is or what gives me purpose -- I wouldn’t know who I am. I couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful people in this organization who have gone out of their way to support me for the majority of my life now, and I look forward to knowing them for the rest of it. 

Sincerely, 

Lennox Kolics

Below is "Hello, I just wanted to see how you were doing" by Cassie Shankman, performed by the ACG Youth Orchestra. Watch more Youth and Community Ensembles here.

https://youtu.be/2rSR1NvuP2w


ACG Education: A Conversation with Susana Diaz-Lopez

2021 is the 20th anniversary of ACG Education. We’ll be celebrating all year long! Here is a beautiful story from one of our graduates who’s just returned to teach in the Austin ISD District. Click here to learn more about ACG Education.

Developing and keeping life-long connections with our community is something we at ACG are very passionate about and grateful for. These connections transform our world and are continuously inspiring. We’ve made connections in numerous ways, including through our ACG Education.

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Susana Diaz-Lopez, a young woman we first met years ago at Travis High School. Susana recently came full circle as an employee of Austin ISD, teaching guitar in the same district where she herself first learned to play. 

Susana joined guitar class in her junior year of high school under the direction of Susan Rosanc. There she also met ACG instructor Brent Ferguson. Later she became a member of ACG Youth Orchestra. 

Susana has worked with us in so many ways including speaking at our annual Guitar Under the Stars gala, interning with our production team, and last year teaching in our juvenile justice system programs as a contract member of our education team. 

“Being a part of ACGYO was an amazing experience! Having the opportunity to play with the group created new challenges for me and pushed me as a musician and it was so amazing to play next to such talented young musicians.” - Susana Diaz-Lopez

Susana continued her music education after high school with Brent Ferguson. She shared a little about her journey, 

“When I was in high school, ACG sponsored free private guitar lessons for students and I was set up with Brent Ferguson. I enjoyed the lessons so much that I continued them even after high school and later followed Professor Ferguson to Washburn University where I also took composition lessons with him! I worked with him with the Washburn Community Ensembles, as well as competed in his event for the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin.” 

We were so ecstatic to have Susana join our Education team working with our Juvenile Justice Programs this past season: 

“At first I was nervous that I would have some trouble being able to connect with the students, but overall my experience has been so great! The students I have the pleasure of working with are learning so fast and are so excited for class everyday. I’m catching on to the unique ways each student learns and I’ve learned a lot from every single one of them. It makes me so proud to see each one improve.” -Susana Diaz-Lopez

We’re thrilled for Susana, and cannot wait to see the magic and beauty she produces in the future! 


Together: ACG Guitar Choir with Jaynee Welty

This month we’re sharing a series of beautiful stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs! If you are interested in joining our Community Ensembles, learn more here!

ACG Community Ensembles are a welcoming environment for people of all ages and skill levels to come together and create something beautiful. We love having the opportunity to expand our reach, create new deep rooted connections, and explore music along the way! 

This week we had the privilege of speaking with one of our lovely ACG Guitar Choir members Jaynee Welty. 

Jaynee has an incredible musical background with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music and a Masters in Education and Dance. She has taught music and guitar classes in public schools for twelve years! And to top it off she is an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter! 

Jaynee has been part of the Guitar Choir for three years. 

“I joined the ACG Guitar choir in 2018. I had retired in 2014, and really missed playing my guitar and playing with other people. I missed the guitar ensemble experience that I used to teach.” - Jaynee Welty

We feel so grateful that we have been able to continue these community ensembles even in the midst of the pandemic over the past year. We even expanded our reach to people in rural parts of the state or in completely different parts of the country from being virtual! We are so happy to have had these connections continue to thrive despite the disconnection the pandemic brought. Jaynee shared the significance of this experience for her, 

“I would say my experience in the ensemble during the pandemic saved my sanity! It helped with feeling accepted and valued. It filled the disconnect. It gave me a way to look forward and gave me hope that there is something to work toward tomorrow. The zoom connections were a gift. Tony Mariano became a leader with such kindness and sincere concern for all of us and made it more personal. It was a joy!”

Our community ensembles have done absolutely amazing things this year such as Assisted Living Concerts, ACG Fest, and be part of our Ofrendas and GIVE series! Jaynee shared, 

“Knowing that we were giving our gift of music to bring joy to others was touching for me and I know I was less nervous about being perfect. This past year I was one of the Ofrendas submissions that was used in the performance! It gave me a feeling of acceptance and a sense of confidence. I have found a purpose now in being part of something wonderful and bigger than myself. A big thank you to ACG for the opportunity to express myself through music.” 

We are so grateful for our beautiful community and we look forward to watching it flourish. 

To watch Jaynee’s Give submission click here. To watch her Ofrendas submission click here. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3piS6q_KBhs


Together: Izika Zumba with KIPP and Brian Klenzendorf

This month we’re sharing a series of beautiful stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs!

This past year was interesting in education-land, with students learning mostly from home. We were amazed by the ingenuity and resilience showed by so many students and teachers throughout the year. One of our partner programs, that continually exceeds expectations, is Texas nonprofit charter school KIPP. Our partner teacher there, Brian Klenzendorf, leads a vibrant guitar program, and collaborated with others to create one of our favorite projects this year for KIPP’s spring Fine Arts showcase. 

We spoke with Brian about the project:

“I wanted to collaborate with other Fine Art teachers at the school to bring us together for the event!  Our fabulous dance teacher, Jamie Vallejo, teaches an African dance unit in the Spring so we decided to do Izika Zumba!”

How exciting! Brian created a path for his students to connect with their classmates in other performing art programs during a time in which connecting felt a little bit harder. Izika Zumba, by the way, is one of our popular teaching pieces from our ACG curriculum, arranged by our staff composer Chris Lee. Brain shared a little bit of the process behind this collaboration,  

“We learned and recorded our parts early to send a recording to the KIPP Dance teacher, so she could help choreograph the routine for her Dance 1 students. We wanted to come together as a Fine Art department for the Spring Showcase. The students were more engaged and motivated knowing that they were doing a collaborative project! 

The Fine Art Showcase was such a success that the other fine art teachers at KIPP want to make it an annual tradition.  During the Showcase, we also featured recordings from our band, steel drum, guitar, and music production classes during the Visual Art exhibit.  Doing a unified Fine Art Showcase also brought our entire school community together to celebrate the arts and we also later found out that it was a fantastic recruiting tool for our Middle Schools.  Students in 8th grade were able to see the full scope of our fine art offerings and make informed decisions about which fine art program they want to be a part of!”

 We were so delighted to watch this incredible student performance and hope it puts just as big of a smile on your face as it did on ours!

“I’m so proud of our students for their perseverance and grit from this past year!  I really enjoy seeing them play guitar or dance in their homes or outside!  They made it happen whenever and wherever they were!” -Brian Klenzendorf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbeJPIF50ns


Together: Northeast High School with Tony Mariano

This month we’re sharing a series of beautiful stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs!

This spring we had the opportunity to connect with the students of Northeast Highschool’s guitar program in a spectacular way. Our Teaching Artist and Director of Ensembles, Tony Mariano connected with local singer/songwriter Daniel Fears, to guide the students of Dallas Shreve’s guitar and orchestra classes through composing and recording their own music. 

Daniel Fears visited several classes and walked students through his compositional process to inspire them to compose their own music. Dallas and Tony then worked with the students directly to create some outstanding pieces of music inspired by the theme of Hope. 

We had the opportunity to speak with Tony Mariano about the process and value of the project. Tony shared, 

“Helping students to be creative in a way that brings them out of their comfort zone is incredibly valuable. It's what musicians do all the time - create beautiful music from nothing. We started with an idea of Hope, and ran with it. And in doing so, the students had the opportunity to take their limited experience on their instruments and create something brand new that connected what they were playing and composing to a specific feeling and idea. This gave them an opportunity to create despite feeling unsure of what would come from it. It allowed them to feel vulnerable in a safe and positive space, and seeing the final product gave them a chance to feel proud, not just of a performance, but proud of what they created. It wasn't always easy, in fact, the composition process was incredibly difficult, and many students felt super hesitant and self-conscious. But in the end, everyone was able to contribute a little bit of something to the final product, whether it be an idea for a melody, thoughts on the form, a video clip, or some poetry.”

The students in Dallas’ class were given the freedom to create their piece of music in any style or genre and were not limited to only the classical guitar or orchestral instruments. 

“While each composition began with music notated and composed in the manner you'd find typical of a "classical" piece of music, we did not limit their creativity to a classical genre. In the final product, there are drums, electric guitar, spoken word, etc. We were less concerned with creating a piece of music that adhered to a specific genre, but rather we were more interested in providing the students with an opportunity to use their musical voice to create something beautiful, whatever that may be,” Tony shared. 

The process of creating something beautiful is different for every artist and musician. It can be so rewarding and intricate to be able to create what is in your mind into something tangible or audible. We asked Tony to share what a typical composition lesson looked like for the students and how their creative process began. He shared, 

“A typical composition started with a prompt - "pick one string, pick three notes that sound good together." From there, we built a melody. Then, we would ask the students to come up with a bass line that sounded good with whatever melody they created. Usually we'd help them out with this part by choosing certain notes for the students, and allowing them to improvise with those notes until they came up with something that felt right. We then added ostinatos, chords, middle voices, anything that added positively to the "mix" we were creating - all improvised and coming directly from the students. And with each step, we would try to tie in what they were doing with the idea of Hope - "does this sound hopeful" , "what chord would make this sound and feel more hopeful" etc. Once the mixes were finished, we turned some of the more advanced students loose to compose their own solo's, which turned out incredible. And we passed one song on to Daniel to add his special touch to the mix.”

We at ACG are constantly astounded by the fiery creativity and talent that surrounds us. And today, we are so excited to share the hard work of Dallas Shreve’s students with you. 

“Composing and recording can be so messy, even for the pros. So seeing all that hard work pay off in an incredibly beautiful video was heartwarming in a truly special way. Whenever you start on a journey like this, you never know what is going to come of it. The students don't know, the teachers don't know. So it is always a special surprise to see the final product. And passing that video on to the students so that they could take it and show it to a family member or friend to say "Hey, I made this" is so so powerful.” -Tony Mariano

https://youtu.be/5VWD1iccAQk


Together: A Conversation with Justice Phillips

Over the next month we will be sharing a series of beautiful and inspirational stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs!

This blog is part of a two part series on our youth and community ensembles. Read the first part here. 

This year brought us many unanticipated gifts! One being our ability to expand our community ensemble reach beyond Austin and another being our opportunity to connect with and commission local artists more consistently. 

We recently commissioned four local composers, Justice Phillips, Matthew Lyons, Cassie Shankman, and Alan Retamozo, to write a piece for the ACG Youth Camerata, the ACG Youth Orchestra and two community ensembles. 

We had the exciting opportunity to speak with Justice a little more about his composition Winter to Spring. Justice composed this beautiful piece for the ACG Youth Camerata during the Texas winter storm in February. Justice shared, 

“I remember walking my dog, Luna, during the storm, and the harmonies at the beginning really captured how I felt in that icy environment. The piece moves and transitions throughout until finally at the end, spring arrives. When I first heard the performance the ACGYC did of the piece, I was more blown away by the level at which they play than I was about the piece itself honestly. It's crazy to me to hear a virtual ensemble of young people playing that beautifully.”

Justice began his path as a composer during his Freshman year of college when he broke a finger playing basketball. He wasn’t able to play his guitar so he dove into composing and became the talented young composer he is today! Justice shared a little about his process in composing,  

“Typically when I am writing a new piece, I create a ‘skeleton’ of the piece initially, then I improvise based on the skeleton with the guitar and add/subtract things as I see fit. While I was improvising Winter to Spring, I had the icy weather in my mind.”

We are so grateful to have Justice on our team! He creates constant beauty and we are so thrilled to watch it unfold. Justice shared about more beautiful things he has done this year, 

“I had the fortune of writing a piece for my old middle school Lively. Their guitar program and Orchestra played a piece of mine together, and their dance program danced to it. It was gorgeous and I was very honored to be a part of it. I also was commissioned by the Sans Duo to write a piece for Guitar and Saxophone that I titled Luna after my dog. For our GIVE project, I wrote a guitar solo for my best friend Alex Lew titled "Soni Time" named after his dog Sonata, and I'm currently working on a commission for the Austin Guitar Quartet!”

The abundance of beauty and creativity in our world leaves us speechless at times. We are so grateful for our community and cannot wait to continue thriving together in our bounty of magnificence!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObskMDnRuCk&list=PL7wuzEY0eIyCU1VEos0HX5mI0uvl-8Vjr&index=6


Together: A Conversation with Catalina Galvan

Over the next month we will be sharing a series of beautiful and inspirational stories about ACG community and education projects that happened in the spring! If you’re curious to see more of our past projects please check out our ACG Productions page and our previous Blogs!

Being completely virtual this past year brought us unexpected things to be grateful for. Particularly special was our ability to expand our Youth and Community Ensembles to areas beyond Austin! 

ACG Youth and Community Ensembles are a place to experience the joy of making music with others. We are so grateful that we could still build connections with our community through music, despite the obstacles we faced this year.

We had the opportunity to speak with one of our ACG Youth Orchestra members, Catalina Galvan, about her experience being part of a virtual ensemble this spring. 

Catalina is from a rural part of Texas about five hours away from Austin! She learned about ACGYO online and was able to participate regardless of her distance! 

Catalina shared, 

“My experience this Spring was one like no-other. I have never had the opportunity to collaborate with such a diverse group of people and work on a beautiful piece to make it our own, until I joined the ACGYO. The pandemic actually impacted my experience favorably because the ACGYO going virtual gave me the ability to take advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities ACG has to offer.”

This semester the ACGYO took part in multiple projects including GIVE and Cassie Shankman’s “Hello, I just wanted to see how you are doing?”

Catalina shared,

“The GIVE project taught me a valuable lesson: that music, though seemingly small and simple, can have a huge impact on those around us and can be used as a way to give back to those in our life and tell them how meaningful they are to us when words can’t. It was truly phenomenal.

I made my GIVE project for my grandma. It was a performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I made it to simply give back to all of the support and love she has given me in my study of music and basically every part of life. It’s her favorite song.” 

We asked Catalina to share her ‘behind the scenes’ experience in working with Cassie Shankman’s composition as a virtual ensemble. She shared, 

“Cassie Shankman’s “Hello, I just wanted to see how you are doing?” was my favorite piece in the repertoire because it accurately represented each one of our stories throughout the past year and allowed us to weave all of that together into one amazing work.

Working on Cassie’s composition was a great experience, not only for me but the whole group! Joe would consistently send us to small breakout rooms of two or three during rehearsals and we were able to use that time to share variations of Cassie’s piece that we came up with to be inspired and to collaborate with what we were sharing. We also discussed video ideas and were able to collaborate on how we could represent the visual aesthetic of the piece. We all had completely different interpretations and feelings for the piece and we worked hard to blend them all together into something amazing.”

We are so thrilled and thankful for the opportunity to expand our services in such a remarkable way! We are so excited to continue our online reach in the future, even as we begin to feel safer to connect in person, in order to continuously expand, inspire, and connect through music despite distance!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rSR1NvuP2w&list=PL7wuzEY0eIyCU1VEos0HX5mI0uvl-8Vjr&index=8


Season Finale: Behind The Scenes

It’s our May Fund Drive, and during this time we love to share inspiring things friends like you have helped make possible. Here is a special behind the scenes look at our 30th Season Finale. If you’d like to support our May Fund Drive, you can Donate Online Here

May 22, 2021 was a beautiful day at Austin Classical Guitar. It was our 30th Season Finale with the Texas Guitar Quartet, and our 2021 ACG Ensemble Festival. Between the two events we premiered five newly commissioned pieces of music, and featured performances by more than one hundred guitarists.

If you watched our Season Finale, then the picture at right will look familiar to you! It’s the Texas Guitar Quartet dazzling us from the stage of the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center. What you didn’t see in the video, however, were Todd and Keith behind the cameras that were capturing all the magic. But you can see them in this photo. If you didn’t see the show and you’d like to we have attached the video below. And while we’re at it, if you like to see our 2021 ACG Ensemble Festival too, click here

Here’s a look even further behind the scenes. From nearest to farthest we’ve got Vern, who was acting as Technical Director, Joe Williams who is Artistic Director and was calling the camera shots in real time, and Jordan Walsh who was making the changes and layering in the videos and slides throughout the show. These three have been working alongside other remote team members, and our virtual concert wizard Eric Pearson, all season long!

 

 

 

Here’s a close up look at Jordan’s console where you can see what he’s seeing as the show progresses. In the past fifteen moths our team at ACG has basically had to evolve into a kind of television show production team. And for our new faraway friends we’ve made this year, we’re thrilled to announce that the streaming format will continue even as we head back to in-person events. In fact, we’ve got some big exciting news to share soon in that regard…but just not quite yet!

 

 

 

No post about ACG technological innovations would be complete with the master himself, Eric Pearson. Eric has a very rare set of incredibly deep skills and knowledge from music to recording to acoustics to technology all combined with a uniquely powerful combination of will and caring that enabled him to develop what is, in our opinion, one of the best live-stream music rigs in the United States. Read a feature about Eric and his technical innovations online here

Our remote team and AV teams are not pictured here! Jen, Jess, Lennox, Kevin, Ciyadh, and others were directing key components of our event production all year long.

The bottom line is that we are grateful. We’re grateful to our staff, to all the artists, to our partners near and far, and to all the experts who swooped in with their knowledge and goodwill. We are grateful to you, dear reader, for your support, for telling your friends, for your presence and supportive comments along this strange journey, and for your donations. 

Speaking of which, if you were inspired by our concerts and services this year, and you haven’t yet made a contribution, and you’d like to. We promise you this: we’ll work as hard as we know how to do the most good with your contributions. Thank you for your support, and thank you for your belief in the power of music to do good in the world. 

Donate online here

Related story: 30th Season Finale, A Conversation with Mason Bynes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kghY9UfOxzA


30th Season Finale: A Conversation with Mason Bynes

Our 30th season finale was an energetic celebration of Spring. An orchestra of young guitarists from all over Texas premiered Broomsticks by Mason Bynes, and the Texas Guitar Quartet dazzled us live from the AISD Performing Arts Center on Saturday May 22nd.

We were so thrilled to present the season finale in our thirtieth year at ACG with the support and collaboration of Austin ISD, Virtual Guitar Orchestra, Augustine Foundation, and Ex-Aequo. 

As part of Ex-Aequo’s Changing the Canon project that is dedicated to sharing and promoting living composers of color, the Virtual Guitar Orchestra premiered composer Mason Byne’s Broomsticks. We have been so lucky to get the opportunity to speak with Mason.

Mason Bynes is a composer, vocalist and multi-media artist from Sugar Land, TX. She stays musically inspired by chasing collaboration in a myriad of artistic disciplines, including film and television,  theatre, dance, the culinary arts and music for an acoustic/live setting. Her passion and musical curiosity has encouraged a diverse variety of commissions and collaborations with  groups like: The Westerlies, Bass Players for Black Composers, the National Youth Orchestra  of Great Britain, the Dallas Opera, the Fort Worth Opera and many others.  

Mason shared some insight about her composition process and what this project in particular meant for her:

“A  common process of mine is using the piano, guitar or my voice to compose what’s in my head.  I’ve also enjoyed processes that involved listening to music that include the instruments I’m  writing for. I’ve enjoyed processes that involve making field recordings of sounds that inspire  musical material. Other versions of my processes include taking pictures and videos to inspire  a new sound world, finding and wearing different fashion trends, or even cooking a new meal. I  love synthesizing these experiences when trying to find musical inspiration- it’s more fun to me  this way!  

This collaboration with Ex-Aequo was so fun, as was the process behind it! At the time, I had  recently discovered Brazilian guitarist, Luiz Bonfa. I soon realized that I had growing list of  Brazilian artists that I really loved to listen to: Maria Rita, Joyce Moreno, and Adriana  Calcanhotto. So this process started with a lot of listening, singing and dancing! These artists' rhythmic styles in addition to their sense of lyricism, groove and musical transformation  overtime was helpful when writing this new piece. In addition to this part of the project, Ex Aequo also organized composer- talk sessions with different schools around the country. This  was my favorite part of the project, as there are so many bright and talented young guitarists,  performers and composers out there.” 

Broomsticks is a special composition for Mason because it is the first piece she has composed for solo classical guitar! Mason shared what this meant for her and how it influenced her growth as an artist. 

“I’ve written for rock groups  before, and I love writing for electric guitar- but I’d never written for solo classical guitar. It was  a good challenge and it was so rewarding. The compositional processes behind this piece  allowed me to deepen my listening by way of discovering new artists, and it has had a lasting  impact on the way I listen and compose as a musician. I’m also grateful for the people I’ve met  in this collaboration and for being introduced to the classical guitar community. I was intrigued  by this project when I was first approached by Ex-Aequo, because of their passion for new  music, “changing the canon”. What a thrill it will be to hear all of this incredible new music by living Black composers.”

We are so ecstatic to share Mason’s incredible composition with you! (arr. for the Virtual Guitar Orchestra by Alejandro Montiel). We hope you enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0site3DDsoo


Guitar & Horses: A Letter from Edward Kimball

It’s our May Fund Drive, and during this time we love to share inspiring stories. This is one of our recent favorites, brought to us by ACG Community Ensemble member Edward Kimball. If you’d like to support our May Fund Drive, you can Donate Online Here

 

Every Tuesday morning I go out to a place called Healing With Horses Ranch in Manor, TX.  HWHR helps children and adults with a wide variety of physical and emotional afflictions.  Its services are free for military veterans like me, and the rest pay fees.  

Along with ACG, visiting HWHR is what I've been doing to cope with my chronic ankle pain & surgery recovery, hearing disability and struggles with major depressive disorder.  We all must figure out ways to compensate for the genetic hand we've been dealt.

Because of my previous experience with horses, my instructors steered me into more refined aspects of horsemanship. Sort of like the difference between the folk-song strumming most of us did "back in the day," and learning classical guitar. 

I've been kicked, bitten, bucked off and fallen with a horse. I’ve trained a few, and ended up being trained by them.  Obviously I love horses.  Most of them read human emotions better than humans.  

For some strange reason I don't understand, while at home working on solo pieces on guitar, thinking about phrasing, my mind will wander, sometimes reflecting on things instructors said to me that week about handling horses.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that the subtle details of classical guitar, and the nuances of horsemanship, have much in common.  

I’ve been going to Healing With Horses Ranch since 2017. I’ve been involved with Austin Classical Guitar since 2010. To cut to the chase, as they say, the experiences have begun to meld.  

From my two instructors at HWHR, Crystal & Libby, I’ve been taught "nuance," subtle positioning of body parts while riding, as well as connecting and communicating with the horse while on the ground. Meanwhile, as a member of ACG Community Guitarist Ensembles, I’ve been learning "nuance" from Carlos, Eric, and now Tony, as well as fellow members of our groups.  

This picture of “Mr. Dude” and me was taken at our last Vet's program of the fall season. I got to do what I’d wanted to do most: play guitar for the horse I'd been working with.  

Having had a hearing disability from birth, I envy horses' ears.  We may never know what a guitar sounds like to a horse, but I like to believe that something was going on in his mind as I was doing my best to play for him.  It’s quite possible he was totally bored and felt like just standing there…nothing else to do!

 - Edward Kimball

Thank you so much Edward! Since we received the marvelous letter and photograph above, Edward has continued his artistic connection to HWHR by creating the beautiful video below for his friend “Patience,” also a client at HWHR, as part of the ACG GIVE project in April. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYGR0zihrGA