Javier Niño

Javier Niño was an exceptional young man and talented guitarist from Austin, Texas whose life was cut tragically short in February, 2019. "Javi" brought joy through beauty and kindness to countless people during his lifetime. In his honor, ACG established the Javier Niño Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will provide promising young classical guitarists in Austin with free lessons, mentoring, and other support to help them advance in their studies and realize their potential.

To contribute to the fund, or learn more about it, please click here.

Jeremy Osborne grins when he recalls the first time he met Javier.

“Javier came into the guitar class at Eastside Memorial High School as an underclassman, wearing a leather jacket and Iron Maiden t-shirt. He had taken some lessons and already identified as an electric guitarist, which sometimes caused a bit of head-butting because we were teaching classical.”

Javier’s enthusiasm for guitar soon skyrocketed, and he became a sponge for everything the guitar community offered.

His initial skepticism quickly dissolved into “soaking up everything we were giving him. He became intrinsically motivated, and one of the best guitarists at Eastside.”

Along with Eastside's guitar director, Meghan Buchanan, Jeremy realized that Javier was progressing at a rate that would soon exceed what the school's guitar program could offer. They thought he should set his sights on a place where he’d be able to flourish, and encouraged him to audition for McCallum Fine Arts Academy.

Javier ended up winning that audition, and joined McCallum's award-winning guitar program. Under the direction of Andrew Clark, Javi thrived at his new school, quickly distinguishing himself among some of the most talented young guitarists in the city. But he never forgot those early teachers who saw his potential and helped him succeed. Jeremy has fond memories of running into Javier at district guitar functions over the next few years, where they'd catch up with each other and have long conversations about music.

Eventually, Javier began studying privately with Joseph Palmer, ACG’s Performance Engagement Artist and a highly accomplished soloist.

Joseph was amazed at the persistence with which Javi approached guitar. “His development as a musician was remarkable. As I began to witness his eagerness to learn and his quick rate of progression, we would set bigger and bigger goals. He would always rise to the challenge and push himself further.”

Joseph was also struck by Javi's unique and gentle spirit, his sincerity, and his great sense of humor.

“Even when he would struggle, it was met with laughter instead of frustration. I'll always remember how much we laughed in our lessons. He was such a joy to work with.”

A few months before he passed, as part of a writing assignment for school, Javier wrote a speech honoring the impact Joseph Palmer had on his life. The sincerity of his words and the affection he felt for his teacher are obvious, and especially poignant in retrospect.

“Have you ever seen anyone so good at what they do that you can’t blink once in case you miss something? I would like to present the "Best Classical Guitarist Player of the Century" award to Joseph Palmer. He was the one person in my teens that had as much influence on me as Beyonce or Kanye might to someone else.
Joseph Palmer with Javier (2nd row, second from right) and his Eastside guitar class
I remember the first time I saw Joseph play. I only came to his concert because I tagged along with a friend. I thought that guitar was pretty lame and old. When he started playing, I knew he was something special! I have never in my life seen someone as passionate about their craft. It has changed my expectation of the word passionate.
After seeing Joseph play, I was inspired to pick up the guitar. I decided to give it my all and be just as cool as him. I even started taking guitar classes in high school. I ended up coming in contact with Joseph later, and he took me under his wing as one of his students.
Becoming his student taught me how to be disciplined. It was hard, but I had so much enthusiasm to become a better guitarist that over time I was able to develop discipline. I also applied the strict discipline of practicing guitar to my schoolwork.
I always strived to be as good as him. I admired how amazing Joseph played and how easy he made it seem. It 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? That’s exactly how much I wanted to become a great player, and I established my determination to do so. Being passionate, disciplined, and determined can go a long way, not just for me, but for anyone.”
Javier and his mother, Courtesy of Texas Standard

Javier’s positive attitude toward guitar reflected back to him in the form of more opportunities and space for success. Jeremy greatly admired the symbiotic relationship Javier established with his community.

“We were able to surround Javier with resources to unlock his potential. He gave himself over to the community of guitarists he was part of, and in turn, the community gave everything to him.”

Javier could have gone on to pursue a music degree in college, but instead entered St. Edward’s University to study computer science. “He took the legacy of his family up a notch, as far as economic opportunity, by pursuing such a practical field. That’s the tragedy of all this: it wasn’t just that he’d figured out his potential for guitar, it was like everything just clicked for him, and he became more adult than his peers, more willing to accept opportunities.”

Jeremy is proud of ACG for motivating students to achieve great things in any field, not just guitar. “We try to facilitate that - it’s part of our mission.”

“It doesn’t matter if students become professional concert guitarists or not, it’s the fact that they’re able to take the arts and create it at a deeper level for themselves.”

Javier’s absence has left a void in his community, and Jeremy has a final word regarding life going forward.

“A hopeful thought amidst the tragic loss of it all is that this gives you purpose in a way: it connects you with the people close to you. It’s tragic that he’s gone, but the people left are now so close-knit because of this. [His community] will live their lives with a sense of reverence for the friend they lost. Little daily triumphs will be dedicated to Javier.”

Fall 2018 Education Report

Dear Friends,

2018 has been another remarkable year in ACG Education. We are grateful every day for the unique opportunities we have to connect with children and adults across the globe through music.

Before 2001, music education in U.S. schools was primarily focused on choir, orchestra, and band. Our work these last 17 years has been to build deep, thoughtful, and advanced systems, from curriculum, to training, to assessment, to direct and adaptive services, all to add guitar as a rigorous option for engaging in the arts.

Guitar is easily the most popular instrument in the world, and our classroom-based model for teaching it has enabled schools and teachers to joyfully engage tens of thousands of new and different students in meaningful fine arts study – not in one-time or short-term engagements, but in years-long, deeply enriching educational endeavors.

On behalf of everyone at Austin Classical Guitar, we thank you for your support of our services, and for your belief in the power of music to positively change lives.

I hope the updates you find in this report will make you proud.



Matt Hinsley, Executive Director
Austin Classical Guitar

1) Let's Play!

CURRENT: We began our services at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in 2010. Our partner teacher, Jeremy Coleman, converted our core curriculum into braille in 2012, and began a literacy-based approach to music instruction on the guitar at TSBVI.

In 2016, we realized that while our program at TSBVI was providing their students quality guitar instruction with impressive results, there was a lack of resources to support lifelong learning on the guitar for our students at TSBVI and other members of the low-vision community around the world.

We began an 18-month, $75,000 project to create an online resource that would offer a collection of graded, sequential solo guitar pieces, each with its own complementary set of audio and braille literacy guides. The site, called Let’s Play!, launched in early July, and within weeks was accessed by over 4,000 users in 20 countries.

One of them, Hendrik, wrote to us:

“I am a blind adult with an interest in playing classical guitar. In South Africa, there are not many teachers willing to take on the challenge of such a task. I am writing to thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating this resource and making it available to people like me.”

Explore Let’s Play!
Watch a KVUE News Story & meet three of our TSBVI guitar students

FUTURE: Let’s Play! currently guides learners through five “levels” of study. In the months ahead, we will be adding content to support two additional levels of study. Our goal is that by the time students have mastered all seven levels, they will have acquired the skills and music literacy necessary to begin exploring a large body of parallel literature without further core technical instruction. From our standpoint, this will be a significant milestone towards our vision of a true lifelong learning resource. Future development phases will focus on advanced skills and expanding the music library.

2) Central Texas


CURRENT: We have been very encouraged by the progress of our programs in three nearby districts. In Manor ISD, Decker Middle School just brought on Victor Longoria, one of our teaching artists, as a full time guitar instructor, and our curriculum is now being taught to students in general music classes at both Decker Elementary and Oak Meadows Elementary Schools. In Del Valle ISD, ACG’s Arnold Yzaguirre is teaching for-credit guitar classes after school. And in Dripping Springs ISD, we’re supporting a new high school program led by our partner teacher, Charles Cavanaugh.

All of these programs ended the semester with successful concerts this December.

FUTURE: We anticipate growth in all three of these districts, especially Manor. We also anticipate expanding our reach through new relationships in places like Hutto and San Marcos. The rising cost of housing in Austin is driving more and more families to outlying communities, which in turn is leading under-resourced school districts in those communities to seek our services.

Victor Longoria leads Decker Elementary School students in a performance of Jingle Bells, December 19.

3) Austin & District Infrastructure

CURRENT: Austin ISD is going through a volatile period, and with ACG-supported programs spread throughout the district, our services are widely impacted. At the heart of near-term and long-term challenges are well-publicized district funding decisions that affect all elements of AISD – including fine arts and guitar.

We are seeing challenges resulting from enormous class sizes, last-minute decisions to add or remove classes, unstable registration, and teacher assignments spread across two and sometime three campuses. Responding to these challenges has required new levels of support from our staff and teaching artists

Even in this environment of uncertainty, we have seen stability and notable growth in a number of programs. We are funding significant efforts at certain campuses where we believe there is unique need or opportunity, including LBJ/LASA High School, Travis High School, Martin Middle School, and Mendez Middle School.

We continue to focus on promoting district-wide standards and assessment. In April, ACG’s education team led the fifth annual District Concert and Sight-Reading Contest, which included 44 student ensembles with 608 total student participants. Other districts in Texas, such as El Paso, Houston, Odessa, Brownsville, and Killeen, are currently working toward piloting similar events with the help of ACG and our affiliates.

Our staff also assisted with the All-City and All-Region Ensemble concerts in November. These auditioned ensembles bring together top students from around the district to play together, help with setting standards, and celebrating achievement. ACG’s Matt Hinsley and Joe Williams conducted the Middle School and High School All-Region Ensembles at this year’s event.

4) Free Lessons Initiative

CURRENT: Six ACG teaching artists are currently providing free individual lessons for 34 students with financial need every week at Bedichek Middle School, and at Travis, McCallum, Akins, and Reagan High Schools.

We’re particularly proud that 16 of our free lessons recipients participated in this year’s All-City/All-Region Ensembles, including eight out of the 20 high school students selected for the top All-Region Ensemble.

FUTURE: We are currently developing a framework for a new kind of community presence we call Pro-Social Ecosystem. We aim to empower our students to serve their community with music, thereby benefiting both themselves and their community. Among other things, we expect our Free Lesson recipients to be involved in service projects ranging from performances in retirement homes to mentoring younger students.

5) Juvenile Justice

Jeremy and Javier after the Sunday, Dec. 9th concert

CURRENT: We’re very excited about our former student Javier Saucedo, who we met as a junior at Akins High School a few years ago. Javier received an ACG scholarship to attend Austin Community College, and then transferred to Texas State, where he earned an undergraduate degree in music. He’s now on our education team as the new guitar director at the Travis County Juvenile Justice Center. With support from ACG Assistant Director of Education Jeremy Osborne, Javier is doing a fantastic job, and just led his students’ first public recital on December 9th.

FUTURE: We’ve had several inquiries, from St. Louis to New York, about assisting other communities to build similar programs for incarcerated youth. Here in central Texas we are working toward two types of program expansion: the first is to build a new program in Williamson County, and the second is to launch services for court-involved youth who are not incarcerated as an intervention model to be included in their probation case plans.

6) Musical Wellness & The Lullaby Project

CURRENT: The Lullaby Project has continued to grow. Lullaby artist Claire Puckett has joined our existing team of Arnold Yzaguirre and Travis Marcum, and our institutional partners include Any Baby Can, Travis County Jail, and Dell Children’s Medical Center. In the video below, ACG Lullaby Artist Arnold Yzaguirre performs a lullaby with Jennifer, one of the moms he worked with through our partnership with Any Baby Can. You can learn more about Jennifer’s story here.

Our work at Dell Children’s Hospital is expanding beyond the Lullaby Project to include services individually tailored for children in long-term care scenarios.

The most significant new development is a formal partnership with the CALM Clinic of the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the UT Dell Medical School, where Travis Marcum has been working to design music services for patients. One of the program’s components will be collaborative songwriting. To explore how this might work, Travis met over several months with Christina, a volunteer who serves on the Young Adult Advisory Council for the CALM Clinic.

Christina is a loving mother, wife, biologist, computer programmer, and athlete living in Austin. She’s also a seamstress extraordinaire, with a lifetime of experience knitting and quilting beautiful textiles for her friends and family. She received her cancer diagnosis 3 years ago, and has been undergoing treatment at MD Anderson in Houston ever since.

FUTURE: We anticipate services being available to patients at the CALM Clinic in spring 2019. We will continue to train and grow our Lullaby artist team, because demand far outweighs our capacity to provide these services.

7) National Programs

As of this writing our online curriculum resource has 773 active users across the United States. To provide insight into the kinds of things that are happening with our national partners, we asked several of them to share brief updates.

Cleveland, Ohio

CCGS students at Guitar Day at Cleveland Institute of Music in March 2018, where they took classes with CIM faculty and performed in CIM’s iconic Mixon Hall.

Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (CCGS) is dedicated to creating life-changing experiences for Cleveland’s kids. The city of Cleveland has the second highest child poverty rate for mid- to large-sized cities in the U.S., and combined with cuts to the arts in schools, it means many kids in Cleveland have no opportunity to learn to play an instrument. CCGS has built free guitar classes using Austin Classical Guitar’s GuitarCurriculum.com for 250 students each year and growing, and over 10% of these students also get individual lessons. One of these students, 10th grader Damian Goggans, was accepted into a fellowship at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music more than a year ago, and they will provide free instruction for him until he graduates from high school. Damian received a full scholarship to Interlochen this summer. CCGS also has been teaching Katie Stubblefield for over a year, the youngest face transplant recipient in the U.S., who made international news recently through a feature in National Geographic.

Eric Mann, Executive Director
Cleveland Classical Guitar Society

Cleveland students created this video with help from CCGS Director of Education, Brian Gaudino.

Canton, Ohio

“Guitar education has experienced tremendous growth in the Canton City Schools over the last 4 years. We have grown to about a 110 high school students and a growing middle school population taking guitar. There are currently 5 sections of guitar at McKinley High School and 4 other middle school classes taking place in our district. We have added an advanced guitar class in which students receive college credit from Kent State University.
As of December of this year we have performed at the Kent State Guitar Festival and our middle school and high school winter concerts in the Canton City Schools. Students at McKinley are preparing to take part in a guitar day festival at the University of Akron, spring concerts as well as other community performances. GuitarCurriculum.com and ACG are at the heart of our curriculum in the Canton City Schools and I believe the reason for our tremendous growth. I am excited about the future and the development of the program.”


George E. Dean IV
Director of Guitar, McKinley Senior High School


New York City

One of the most memorable community service projects this year took place when the students of Leaders High School performed for a community of people in need of food while they were waiting for their pantry order within the facility the St. John’s Bread and Life soup kitchen in Brooklyn. After the students performed and the audience (who did not expect music during this time) roared with applause, one of the audience members walked up to the kids and said, ” You know, I was having a really messed up day and I have been extremely angry all day, but listening to you just made me forget about all my problems and I feel happy again, thank you for this”. The students then volunteered to help prepare the food orders for the community and worked until near closing time as we lost track of time. The students learned the beauty of giving back and how great it feels to help others who are in need, making them aware of how much they have to be grateful for and the power music has to help other people at all times. To add, while the students were volunteering, we also had audience volunteers come up to learn how to play a song together on the guitar, which they loved and bought smiles and confidence to their life in a matter of a few minutes. On our way home from the soup kitchen, one of our students asked, “How can I volunteer again? I really enjoyed helping the people out”….. This is what we call a heart-melter!


Jahzeel Montes, Executive Director
Internal Creations, New York City


St. Louis, Missouri

Students from Bermuda Elementary, a new Guitar Horizons program, in Florissant, Missouri with guitars purchased through local Old Newsboys Grant.

The St. Louis Guitar Horizons program is going full “STEAM”! With major sponsorship from The Augustine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, we now send one of our six teaching artists to co-teach in twenty locations in underserved neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro area: Ferguson-Florissant (14), St. Louis City (3), Hazelwood (1), and the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club. We now include the Clayton Detention Center, inspired by the Austin program at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center. There were 22 November-December public presentations, attended by 5,000+ parents and students. We are in preparation for our All Metro Guitar Day next April 2019. Last year’s performance had 100+ students on stage!


William Ash, Education Director
St. Louis Classical Guitar

St. Louis All Metro Concert

Jennings, Missouri

“This is my third year incorporating classical guitar into our string program. I started it as an after-school guitar club when I returned from ACG’s Teacher Training Workshop, and currently I teach it in my 7th grade string class.
Our semester of classical guitar started off with a bang! Fourteen first-timers were very eager to begin instruction. The class is comprised of orchestra students who double on other instruments (i.e. violin, viola, cello, double bass). Guitar is worked into our regular schedule – we have instruction on Tuesday and Thursday of each week.”


James McKay, Music Teacher
Jennings Junior High

8) Teacher Training

CURRENT: ACG’s education team led two Teacher Training Summits this summer in St. Louis and Austin. These were the first training workshops dedicated to advancing the Five Elements we first detailed in our 2017 Education Report. Our staff was also hired to train teachers for Houston ISD in September, and a second visit is scheduled there for January 2019.

FUTURE: Our teacher training vision continues to focus on a path to certification. This must combine training and curriculum with work samples, assessment and feedback, and proof of mastery. This is a major goal we hope to realize in large part using the newly-enhanced technological capabilities of GuitarCurriculum.com (see #10 below).

9) International Partners

CURRENT: We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share ideas and resources with partners outside of the United States, from Mexico, to Nicaragua, to Nepal, and New Zealand. We currently have GuitarCurriculum subscribers in the United States, Thailand, Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, England, Nepal, India, Uruguay, Haiti, Tanzania, the Philippines, Portugal, Nicaragua, Ireland, and the Netherlands. We were thrilled when 18 delegates from Central and West Africa visited ACG in November, and we look forward to sustaining these relationships going forward.

Perhaps most promising at the moment is a new partnership developing with Mario Quintanilla Saucedo in Mexico. We have met several times about strategy, and more training visits are scheduled. The goal is to develop a widespread music education program serving youth in Mexico as an alternative to, and shelter from, the crime and violence that threatens many communities around the country. Read more about this initiative here.

FUTURE: As you’ll see in the next section, a lot is happening behind the scenes with GuitarCurriculum.com to enhance our services for our teaching partners. This is especially important for our international partners. In particular, the additions of an interactive Teacher Forum and monthly webinars are helping us to more effectively and more regularly reach our partners across the world.

10) Technology Upgrades

CURRENT: GuitarCurriculum.com was launched on a new platform in August 2017. This ushered in a new era in terms of our ability to address needs, track user data, and communicate with users. Since then we have added a score upload function so that teachers around the world can begin to contribute their own music to the resource. We believe this will greatly enhance the quality, diversity, and quantity of teaching material available. We also launched a Teacher Forum that includes jobs listings, a space for teachers to exchange ideas, and video contest opportunities. And this fall, with the help of Reality Based Group in Austin, we have shot more than a dozen next-generation student tutorial videos with Dr. Joseph Palmer that will be released in early 2019.

FUTURE: In the coming year look for a newly-designed GuitarCurriculum.com! Apart from a variety of curricular and functional updates, our primary technical focus in the coming years will be on leveraging the resource to gather better data about the teachers using the curriculum and their students, and develop the technological infrastructure to support rigorous online certification process.
Below you’ll see an example of the kind of data reports we are now able generate thanks to our technology upgrades. This is a current map of the 773 active curriculum users in the United States.

GuitarCurriculum.com active users in U.S. (December, 2018)

11) Leadership

CURRENT: Jeremy Osborne gave a talk at SXSW.edu on Music and Juvenile Justice in March.

Travis Marcum, Matt Hinsley, and ACG Board member Dr. Ted Held presented at a Humanities Institute Symposium at the UT Dell Medical School in May. This paved the way for ACG’s partnership with Livestrong Cancer Institute’s CALM Clinic.

In July, Jeremy Osborne and Travis Marcum were invited to participate in an Art for Justice forum in Houston as part of a national initiative led by California Lawyers for the Arts.

In September, Matt Hinsley led a day-long Organizational Development workshop in Baltimore for leaders of 35 North American arts organizations. A story about it appeared in the 2018 fall issue of Classical Guitar Magazine.

FUTURE: Matt will lecture on Organizational Development and Community Service in the Arts as part of the Glasscock Distinguished Speakers Series at Texas A&M University in March, 2019, and again at the Scuola Universitaria di Musica in Lugano, Switzerland for three days in May, 2019.

In September 2019, Travis will be leading a study of community-based music with funding from research grant awarded by the Humanities Institute at U.T. Austin.

Thank you!

In conclusion, while our services have grown and deepened in beautiful and sometimes surprising ways, our main strategic objectives this year surround refining our processes, building our human resources, and enhancing our technological capabilities. We believe these steps are the most crucial as we move toward our next significant growth phase.

On behalf of Austin Classical Guitar’s entire board and staff, I would like to thank everyone who has helped make our work possible in 2018, including these major institutional supporters and program sponsors:

City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Augustine Foundation, Webber Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Sue L. Nguyen Trust, Texas Women for the Arts, Rea Charitable Trust, Cain Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, Still Water Foundation, Kaman Foundation, The Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, Michael R. Levy, Sarah & Ernest Butler, Kodosky Foundation, H-E-B, Tingari-Silverton Foundation, Shield-Ayres Foundation, Applied Materials, Louise Epstein & John Henry McDonald, The Mitte Foundation, Long Foundation, Wright Family Foundation, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, Silicon Labs, 3M Foundation, Kendal & Ken Gladish, Bill & Lynne Cariker, the Benavi Family, Austin Radiological Association, D’Addario Foundation, PwC, Jeanette & Ernest Auerbach, Urban Betty, Charles Schwab & Co., MFS Foundation, Lucy Farland, Cindy Cook, William Metz, Karrie & Tim League, Austin Bar Foundation, Carl Caricari & Margaret Murray Miller, Rixen Law, Elaine & Michael Kasper, Marcia Raff, Ed Pierce, Josh Stern & Reality Based Group, Tesoros Trading Company, IBC Bank, Savarez, Calido Guitars, and Strait Music.

Alumni Reflection: Francisco De La Rosa

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!

We came to know Francisco De La Rosa in 2009 when he joined the guitar class at Akins High School and began working with ACG’s Assistant Director of Education, Jeremy Osborne. We’re proud to count Francisco, who's currently a Music Performance major at Texas State University, as one of our alumni. He recently sat down with us to talk about his love for music, and what motivates him to continue playing.

How did you start learning guitar, and what were your early experiences with Austin Classical Guitar?

I started classical guitar my freshman year at Akins High School. Before that, I was self-taught and had never been exposed to classical music. I still remember the first time I heard a Bach cello suite on guitar. It was unbelievable.

At Akins, guitar was more than just a class - it was a second family. And Mr. Osborne was like an older brother, a role model. High school can be a stressful time, but guitar class was my comfort zone. Everyone was friendly, and there was no judgement. We worked as a team.

I remember that I needed to improve my grades to participate in guitar competitions, and Mr. Osborne helped me study until my GPA was good enough. Before that, I didn’t have to worry about grades, and could just play guitar. He helped me become a better student.

When I talk, I can’t always find the right words, but when I play guitar, I can express exactly how I’m feeling.

What has it been like studying guitar in college?

I received a scholarship from ACG to attend Austin Community College. After that, I reached out to Mr. Osborne for some help preparing for my audition for Texas State’s classical guitar program. I’m proud to say I just finished my second year there, and I'm working toward my Bachelor's in Music Performance. It hasn't always been easy, but ACG helped me discover my passion and go further with guitar than I ever thought I could.

What does music mean to you?

Music completes life for me. It allows me to express who I truly am. When I’m playing guitar, it's like I’m transferred to a different world. Music is a magical feeling. I step outside my consciousness. When I talk, I can’t always find the right words, but when I play guitar, I can express exactly how I’m feeling.

In the future, I want to continue performing and composing, but my biggest dream is to become a teacher. I want to follow in the the footsteps of Mark Cruz, Jeremy Osborne, and Travis Marcum. They all showed me how music can help to achieve my dreams, and I want to share that with others.

The Gift of Guitar

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!

In partnership with Austin Independent School District and Travis County, ACG developed the only for-credit arts class offered to young people incarcerated at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. Now in its eighth year, the impact of these classes has drawn national attention, including coverage on PBS NewsHour and a feature story in Teen Vogue. Most recently, the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department has asked that ACG expand this program to begin serving Austin students who are currently on probation.

Below is a reflection from Kerry Price, an ACG board member, who recently attended a performance of students at Gardner Betts.

Last Sunday, May 6, I had the opportunity to attend a guitar performance by five students at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center.  In the courtroom, each student played one or two solo pieces in front of the judge's podium to an audience of family members, friends, teachers, and ACG Board members and staff.

While the regular use of this room is anything but festive, on this particular afternoon we were there for an accomplishment: young students' hard work to prepare for the daunting task of performing alone.

I was very moved to hear a student play the same Villa-Lobos Prelude which, forty years ago, was the first piece of classical guitar music I'd ever heard. It was the same piece that began my own journey with the guitar and brought so much joy to my own life. What really made my day was seeing the piece performed on a guitar that I once owned - I'd given it to ACG so that maybe someone could use it. That my old guitar was used on this day, and that I had an opportunity to hear and see a student playing Villa-Lobos on it, was icing on the cake.

-Kerry Price, Board Member

If you are inspired by Austin Classical Guitar’s work with young people in the Juvenile Justice System, please consider making a donation to support this work today.

Music all around us - literally!

A dream we have at ACG Education is for all children to have opportunities to find safety, success, and celebration in their lives through music.

So we spend lots of time carefully developing and refining curriculum materials, training teachers, working with local and state administrators, and building special resources to serve as many kids in the very best ways we can.

But something else we love to do is help create memories to last a lifetime, whether it be performances on big stages like the Paramount Theatre or the Long Center, opportunities for 85 students to collaborate with superstars like Pepe Romero or....

...a chance for our amazing youth orchestra to perform in a 360 degree video on the rooftop of the art museum in downtown Austin!

And here it is!

If you've not experienced a 360 degree video then you're in for a special treat. You, as the viewer, will actually be in the middle of the experience, so if you're watching on a mobile device you will actually be able to physically move around and see different kids playing! You can also use your finger to navigate within the video. On a desktop computer you can click and drag your mouse to see everything.

On a mobile device we recommend using the YouTube app, rather than watching it through your browser. We also highly recommend headphones, or having your volume nice and full - because the kids gave an amazing performance!

We hope you love it.

And thank you for helping make everything at ACG Education possible.

ACG Alum Comes Full Circle

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!

We first met Javier Saucedo during his junior year at Akins High School. He had always loved guitar, but never had a teacher or an opportunity to perform. That all changed when he saw a flyer about a new guitar class at Akins. Javier told us, "I couldn’t believe I could actually play guitar during the school day and receive credit for it!" That first semester the class was small, but Javier felt right at home with the other guitar students, and the experience of rehearsing and performing together made them all close friends.

Javier excelled in guitar class during that first year, and began taking private lessons with Tate Coyle, a local professional guitarist, and Jeremy Osborne, ACG’s Assistant Director of Education. Javier says, “Mr. Osborne became a mentor. He helped me with guitar and helped me figure out my future, what I was going to do with my life.”

"Guitar was a place for me to put my energy and emotions. It gave me a constructive activity to be a part of. I always had a guitar by my side or in my hands. It became a part of my identity and motivated me to work hard in school and at home."

Javier also credits guitar with helping him stay focused as a teenager: “I went through a rough patch in high school, and guitar was a place for me to put my energy and emotions. It gave me a constructive activity to be a part of. I always had a guitar by my side or in my hands. It became a part of my identity and motivated me to work hard in school and at home.”

Javier remained committed to guitar throughout high school, and was awarded a full scholarship to study classical guitar at Austin Community College. Eventually, he transferred to Texas State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree this past fall.

Mr. Osborne stayed in touch with Javier over the years, and attended his senior recital this past November. Impressed with his maturity and musicianship, Mr. Osborne began mentoring Javier once again. But this time, instead of helping Javier with his guitar playing, Mr. Osborne began showing him how to be an effective and inspiring guitar teacher.

In January, Javier became an instructor with ACG's Free Lessons Initiative, which provides weekly private guitar lessons to students with financial need. He’s now teaching at Paredes and Mendez Middle Schools, as well as Akins High School, working with students in the very same classroom he himself was in only five years ago.

Javier says his goal is to keep teaching and performing guitar as much as possible. He’s currently applying to get his teaching certificate, and hopes to one day work as a full-time classroom guitar educator in one of ACG’s programs in Austin. He told us:

"I’m thankful to ACG not only for helping me when I was in high school, but for their support through college, and now for helping me to get my teaching career started. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to give back to my community and to the program that helped make me the musician I am today.  I love being able to work with students who are in the same place I was not too long ago. I’m even helping some of them get ready for college auditions. The cycle continues – I had great teachers in high school who helped me, and now I get to do the same for others."

Guitar & Juvenile Justice: a student perspective

This story is part of our ACG Fall Fund Drive Changing Lives Storyboard. Consider supporting ACG today!

In 2010, in partnership with Austin Independent School District and Travis County, ACG developed the only for-credit arts class offered to young people incarcerated at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. The impact of these classes has drawn national attention, including coverage on PBS NewsHour. Most recently, the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department has asked that ACG expand this program to begin serving Austin students who are currently on probation.

A couple of weeks ago, we sat down with several of ACG's students at Gardner Betts to ask them about their experience with guitar. We’d like to share one young man’s perspective:

My mom cried she was so happy after my first guitar concert.

I hadn’t even told her that I was learning to play. For that first performance, I just told her to come to the courthouse, that there was something going on and she needed to be there. When she showed up and there was a concert, and I played, she was amazed, and just kept crying.

I already finished my fine arts credit, but I decided to stay in guitar. I just like it. It keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble and makes me feel grounded. It calms me down when I’m feeling angry or upset, for real. When I start playing, my mind slows down and pretty soon I’m lost in the music and everything else goes away, like blurs, and it’s just me playing guitar.

Guitar is just interesting. I’ve even learned how to figure out songs by ear. I used to bring in a recording of a song I wanted to learn and Mr. Osborne would start showing me how to play it. One day he told me to try and figure it out myself. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but I started trying. At first I couldn’t do anything, so Mr. Osborne showed me the first note. Then I got it, one note here and there until I had the whole thing. If I got stuck or something, he would help, but other than that, I figured it out myself.

You practice to get better, you make a little progress, but you can’t really see it happening in a big way. Then one day you’re able to play this crazy piece. When I’m about to perform, I don’t worry about messing up, I just worry about playing. I close my eyes, and just focus on the music. When I sit down to play my hands always shake, but you just gotta play, get in your zone. The audience might not like it, they don’t have to like it, as long as you like it, that’s what matters.

If you are inspired by Austin Classical Guitar’s work with young people in the Juvenile Justice System, please consider making a donation to support this work today.

Fall 2017 Education Report

Dear Friends,

2017 was another tremendous year for Austin Classical Guitar and, especially, for ACG Education. In this year-end report, my aim is to connect news of growth and change in our services with the theories and innovations that we believe have helped thousands of diverse students and teachers experience authentic growth, personal satisfaction, and moments of true joy.

What began in one school in 2001 has now spread to 60 schools in Austin and five surrounding districts, along with many partner teachers and organizations throughout Texas, the United States, and beyond.

We are overwhelmed and grateful for the opportunities we have had to introduce a new course subject in American schools. In this context of significant growth, it is more important than ever for us to remain focused on the fundamental beliefs that have guided us from the very beginning: that there is joy in music-making; that expressive and beautiful playing happens from the very first day; that music has the life-changing power to instill pride through hard work and accomplishment.

Thank you for supporting ACG Education. All that we have done, we have done with you. And our work is just beginning.

On behalf of all of us at ACG, thank you for believing in us, and thank you for your faith in the power of music to change lives.

Matt Hinsley, Executive Director


At The Core: Deep Personal Significance

At the core of everything we do in ACG Education is our belief that learning should lead to experiences of deep personal significance. Our curriculum, our teacher training, our teaching, and our social services are all conceived with this belief in mind.

After 17 years of service, observation, research, and growth, we have developed a theory that outlines Five Essential Elements (5-EE) of deep and personally significant learning experiences. They are:

  1. Sense of Safety/Belonging/Room for Mistakes
  2. Sense of Individual Importance/Personal Responsibility
  3. Adversity/Perseverance/Little Victories
  4. Performance/Success
  5. Acknowledgement/Celebration

A scholarship recipient of free individual lessons recently wrote:

I have been playing guitar since my first year at Lamar in the 6th grade. I picked up on it relatively fast, and was transfixed by it immediately. As the years went by I continued to improve and fall in love with the instrument. There aren't many pastimes I consider better than strumming away on the guitar in my room. The instrument has also helped me personally with goal-setting and self-improvement, as I'm able to practice different songs I want to learn on my own. I truly appreciate all that ACG has helped me to accomplish and learn.

This young person’s words encapsulate the principles of 5-EE. In this case we have a window into a years-long process and its profound results. But we have learned that a large impact such as this is a product of 5-EE playing out in the microcosms of each classroom, each day, each rehearsal, and each frame of learning within each rehearsal.

The Challenge

Promoting 5-EE teaching is challenging in the context of growth because we are dealing with expanding resources and many individual teachers across varied communities.

Take just the first step: to establish an environment that promotes a sense of safety, and belonging, and gives room for mistakes.

This is difficult! We can all think of teachers in our own past who did not do this well. Fortunately, most of us can also recall teachers who did it very well, consistently, day after day.

Furthermore, you do not get students (or anyone else) to feel like they belong by telling them to belong. You do not get students to develop a sense of personal responsibility by telling them to be responsible, nor do you get individuals to persevere only by instructing them to do so. Success and celebration are wonderful things but again, we can all think of learning experiences we have had that included neither.

So how do you do it?

We believe the cornerstone of quality music education’s ability to promote 5-EE learning is engagement in expressive, beautiful music-making.  Since 2004, this has been the stated, central aim of the ACG Curriculum: expressive, beautiful, music-making from the very first day.

When we engage in a pleasing, creative act, we participate in something greater than ourselves. In that environment, with proper intention, 5-EE learning can occur.

In this report we’ll group our activities into three main "buckets": Systems Building, Empowerment, and Social Service. All these ACG Education activities work together to promote the goal of 5-EE Learning.

Our Research Basis

In 2009, a team of researchers from the University of Texas School of Social Work conducted a study on ACG Education. Students enrolled in our guitar classes at Akins, McCallum, and Crockett High Schools made statements about what the class meant to them, then sorted, grouped, and ranked those statements. That sorting and ranking was analyzed by the researchers to create 3D maps of the concepts to identify what they were and which were most significant—all in the students’ own words. This type of study is known as Concept Mapping.

Here is the map that resulted:

The sizes of the linked concepts do not matter as much as the number of layers. The layers show how significant the grouped statements were considered to be. On this map, the highest ranked concept—with five layers—was “Self-Esteem.” It's on the left side of the map. The second highest ranked concept—with four layers—was named “Unique Learning Environment.” It's on the lower right side of the map.

Let’s look at the statements associated with each concept:


  1. This class gave me many new experiences; like playing in front of people
  2. Given me more confidence
  3. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment
  4. I feel proud of myself

Unique Learning Environment

  1. This class has more interaction with the teachers—everyone gets attention
  2. Easier to ask for help in this class, doesn’t make you feel dumb if you don’t get it
  3. It’s OK in this class if you don’t understand
  4. I like that we play in pieces or sections—so that we’re all needed
  5. Everyone messes up in this class sometimes, so it doesn’t feel bad to mess up in this class
  6. Good to have the same teacher over time.

If you compare the statements making up these top two concepts from the UT Social Impact Study with the components of 5-EE , you can see that “Unique Learning Environment” maps quite closely to the first two elements, while “Self-Esteem” maps most closely to elements three through five.


Systems Building: GuitarCurriculum.com

GuitarCurriculum.com is the basis for all of our work in ACG Education. Launched in October 2008 after four years in development, this comprehensive online resource for teachers includes a large and growing music library of both ensemble and solo pieces, along with a wide range of materials for improving student musicianship including sight reading and technical exercises, evaluation and testing, video tutorials, and more. Contact us for a tour!

Our big news this year is that, after five years in development, GuitarCurriculum.com has relaunched on a new platform. This is a big deal for us because we have big plans for the resource, but were unable to implement them effectively on the old site.

We have also named Eric Pearson, a member of the ACG Education team since 2011, to be our first-ever Director of Curriculum. This dedicated position, combined with the technology capabilities of the improved website, will pave the way for new developments and growth in the years to come.

For example, one of the first things we’ll be releasing, perhaps as soon as January 2018, will be an internal user forum. This network will allow serious classroom guitar teachers around the world to connect with a network of other professionals—a particularly valuable advancement in an emerging field where peer support can be difficult to find.

Another benefit of our new curriculum website is easy access to usage data. The map above, for example, shows current subscribers in the continental US by state, as well as local, state and global users. Before our new site launched, this type of information was difficult to obtain and unreliable.

Other features coming soon include: Increased data collection, automated score upload and license agreement (allowing users around the world to submit pieces to the library), licensing & commissioning, video consultation/feedback, and teacher certification.


Systems Building: State Advocacy & Standards

From an assessment and quality control standpoint a top priority has been to set up procedures for guitar at a statewide level similar to those used with established music education programs. For example, in the field of Orchestra Education, there is an Association of Orchestra Directors that advocates and provides professional for orchestra directors, there are district concert and sight reading contests, and city, regional, and state ensembles. These elements help set standards for teachers and students.

We created and organized a Concert and Sight Reading event for Austin ISD four years ago. Last year, about 1,000 students participated. Because this event does not exist everywhere across the state, we accept guest ensembles from places like Killeen, Odessa, and elsewhere. We have also helped establish similar adjudication events in Houston, Brownsville, and El Paso. This is a critical piece of quality control in an environment of growth, and will continue to be a priority going forward.

Two years ago we also established Texas Guitar Directors Association. Our plan was to begin the organization, host several meetings, and then hand off leadership to full time guitar directors around the state through statewide elections. We are pleased to report that these elections took place in January 2017, and TGDA is off and running under the direction of its first elected board.


Systems Building: Guitar Enrichment For People with Visual Impairments

The program we helped establish at Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired is thriving. Students from TSBVI will open this January's International Series concert!

Guitar classes at TSBVI began in 2010. In 2012, we prioritized music literacy, and converted the first lessons from GuitarCurriculum.com into braille notation. Last year, we identified our next priority: the creation of a lifelong learning resource for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Why? Because nothing like it exists, and because we feel the students who graduate from our program at TSBVI deserve the opportunity to pursue lifelong enjoyment and continued advancement on the classical guitar.

In partnership with TSBVI, we envisioned a free, multi-platform, web-based app containing resources for step-by-step instruction in solo guitar, including downloadable braille music scores and accompanying audio guides. Development began in March, 2017, and we plan to launch the app in March of 2018. So stay tuned!

The picture above is from a focus group we organized in August with members of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas to try out some of the beginning lesson materials.


Empowerment: Austin & Central Texas

We now proudly offer guitar in all AISD middle schools, all but one AISD high school, and eleven area elementary schools. Our biggest news on the local front is that we were asked by five neighboring school districts to assist with building brand new guitar programs this year: Del Valle, Manor, Dripping Spring, Hays, and Comal. For a complete listing of our central Texas education partners, click here.

We have right around 4,000 students in central Texas who played over 300 performances in 2017 for an estimated audience of 25,000 people.

With our existing programs in Austin, we focus our time and resources based on need: Newer programs, as well as programs led by first-time classroom guitar instructors, receive the most attention from our staff, including weekly on-site visits and ongoing consultation and evaluation. For example, we are working with particular diligence right now at LBJ/LASA, where four new sections of guitar were just added this fall, assisting the first-time teacher there with everything from lesson planning to classroom management. And we continue to support every teacher in our Austin programs with free access to all of the instructional resources at GuitarCurriculum.com, complimentary registration to our teacher training workshops, as well as on-site consultation on an as-needed basis.

Eighty-five students performed for more than 500 people at the Widén Elementary School winter concert in December.

Students from our new program at Decker Middle School in Manor traveled to Austin to be our guests at the Eliot Fisk International Series Concert in November.


Empowerment: Texas & Beyond, Teacher Training

As you can see from the US map in the curriculum update above, we have many partner teachers around the country. In July 2017, we led teacher training sessions in St. Louis (students pictured above), Cleveland, and Austin. We chose to return to St. Louis and train teachers in Cleveland for the first time because of the highly-motivated and capable partner organizations in both cities.

The core of ACG Teacher Training is our efforts to promote expressive beautiful music-making from the very first day, and 5-EE learning experiences of deep, personal significance. This quote below, from a teacher in Canton, Ohio, is a good window not only into the enthusiasm we are encountering and the effectiveness of our program to empower teachers, but it also provides insight into the fact that our teachers need 5-EE learning experiences too—not just their students.

…This year I am teaching 6,7,8, and 9/10 grade guitar class as well as a community outreach ensemble.  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…

George Dean, Orchestra & Guitar Director, Canton City Schools, Ohio


Empowerment: International

The number of curriculum-users from outside of the U.S. has ticked up noticeably over the past couple of years. In some cases, we are providing our international partners with free curriculum and support services — and we're happy to do so! At our teacher training workshops, we have welcomed guests from the UK, Mexico, Canada, Nicaragua, and Nepal. These are exciting relationships to develop, but—at least for now—international growth is not a top priority in our near-term strategic plan.


Social Service: Juvenile Justice

One of the programs about which we are most proud is our daily, for-credit guitar classes at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. Our students there get deeply engaged, achieve impressive results, and perform publicly throughout the year in concerts we organize and as part of swearing-in ceremonies for Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Contact us if you would like to see one of these—or any other—student performances.

The exciting news for our juvenile justice service is that Travis County Juvenile Probation Department has asked us to begin working with youth who are court-involved, but not incarcerated. After designing several models, we have settled on an approach that would enroll eligible youth into our existing school programs, paired with extensive and ongoing individual support from members of our team. We believe this will be a potent combination, and Travis County will award community service credits to the youth who participate.

Although it first aired in fall of 2016, we're including the PBS Newshour segment below about the program because footage inside the detention center is so difficult to attain. It's also really good! We invite you to watch it with 5-EE learning in mind—particularly at the end.



Social Service: Lullaby Project

We credit the Lullaby Project, and its creators at Carnegie Hall, as helping lead us to our current mission at Austin Classical Guitar: To inspire individual through experiences of deep personal significance. The Lullaby Project stretched us, and helped us realize that there are many ways music can reach people, heal, and connect.

We are particularly excited to begin a new Lullaby Project partnership with Austin Women and Children’s Shelter in 2018, as well as deepen our existing partnerships. We have also began service at Dell Children’s Hospital where we are visiting youth in a variety of circumstances, and may begin lullaby work as well.

Here is our newest lullaby, “I Will Protect You,” created in December at the Travis County Jail by Arlen, who wrote it for her four young children. I’d love for you to hear it. Just hit the play button on the video below. There’s also a reflection by Joey Delahoussaye, the Lullaby Project clinician who worked with Arlen to write this moving song.

Within a few minutes of meeting Arlen, I could tell that her soft-spoken manner belied her strength as a mother and protector of her children, who mean everything to her. In her lullaby, Arlen takes turns singing to her three daughters, Kamila, Fatima, and Valeria, and to her son, Angel. She hasn’t seen any of them since arriving at the Travis County Correctional Complex a few months ago. 

Arlen would be the first to tell you how unique each of her children are, and for that reason we decided early on that this would not be a one-size-fits-all lullaby. Arlen uses the verses to speak directly to each child, addressing them one by one to offer words of encouragement. Then, in the chorus, she expresses her love for her family and commitment to protect them, no matter what. For all the uncertainty in Arlen’s life right now, her devotion to her children is steadfast. Writing this lullaby was a special experience that I won’t soon forget.

– Joey Delahoussaye, ACG Lullaby Project Clinician


Social Service: Endowment Gifts

We are humbled and beyond thrilled to report that in November an anonymous donor gave us $75,000 to support our Lullaby Project, $70,000 of which will be held in ACG's Endowment Fund.

This is our second major endowment gift for a social service program. The first was a gift of $45,000 to establish a fund in support of our work in juvenile justice, given by the Houston-based Sue L. Nguyen Trust in the fall of 2016.

These extraordinary gifts are so inspiring to our team, and mark significant steps forward in our board and staff's shared vision of an organization that will continue serving our communities for many years to come.


Social Service: Individual Scholarship Lessons & Near-peer Mentoring

ACG Education actually began in 2001 as an individual scholarship lesson program, before growing into a curriculum and classroom development mission. But the individual scholarship lesson program has continued. Many of our most striking individual success stories have involved scholarship lesson recipients.

One such student is Santiago Esquivel, a graduate of Travis High School, who is also our current full scholarship recipient at Austin Community College (we give one scholarship each year).

This fall, Santiago wrote:

My future goals are to get a music education degree because I want to be a teacher one day. My guitar teacher, Ms. Rosanc, is probably one of the biggest reasons why I stayed in school and stayed motivated. She saw all the potential in me that I didn’t see and I strive to be as good as her. My career goals are to help students who don’t know what they want to do in life. I want to help them find a reason to stay in school and help them find their calling in life even if it doesn’t involve music. I want to help just like my teacher helped me.

Santiago volunteered this fall to be one of our near-peer mentors (see below) at Mendez Middle School, and we have also hired him to teach individual lessons at his alma mater, Travis High School.

This fall six advanced students from our Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra volunteered to be near-peer mentors at Mendez Middle School as part of a new pilot program. Our vision is that advanced students in all our high school programs will soon be mentoring less advanced students in their high schools or in feeder middle schools.

The pilot went well, we learned a lot, and we look forward to taking this program further in 2018.


Social Service: Performance Engagement

Performance Engagement is an increasingly active part of ACG programming. If you take our core aim of providing experiences of deep personal significance and apply it to performance rather than instruction, then you get a good sense of this program. The interesting thing is that 5EE learning still applies!

The more diverse audiences are invited to actively participate as listeners, the more they belong and become empowered as interpreters.

Our Performance Engagement Artist, Joseph Palmer, is constantly innovating in this regard from performing musical puppet shows with Austin Public Library storytellers to devising entire concert programs made up of selections on student contest lists so that as guitar students are listening, they can imagine themselves playing the pieces in contest. For more on this program, click here.

Conclusion: Pro-Social Ecosystem

This report has touched on our core principles and explored many applications of them.

Our top priority is to deliver learning experiences of deep personal significance. We have identified five essential elements (5-EE) that could be summarized as: Belonging, Personal Responsibility, Perseverance, Success, and Celebration.

Most of our efforts have been spent on creating resources, training, and models to empower these types of experiences for both teachers and students.

We are now investigating an extension of this theory, and we are calling it the Pro-Social Ecosystem.

In short, this is a vision of contextualized music learning. Much music instruction is relegated to the music room, practice room, and—once in a while—the stage. We believe, however, that the best way to promote 5-EE learning is through music experiences integrated more fully into daily life. In other words, when students do cool stuff with music, they care more about it, work harder, and it becomes more deeply personally significant.

We believe we are particularly poised to provide many meaningful opportunities for this kind of context through service like near-peer mentoring, through collaboration between schools and programs, and through creative opportunities like performing before major touring acts, writing music, or making videos.

So stay tuned! We have big dreams in this regard, and we plan to try out some new things in the year to come.


Thank You

On behalf of Austin Classical Guitar’s entire board and staff, I would like to thank everyone who has helped make our work possible in 2017, including these major institutional supporters and program sponsors:

City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Augustine Foundation, Webber Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Sue L. Nguyen Trust, Texas Women for the Arts, Rea Charitable Trust, Texas Commission on the Arts, Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, Sarah & Ernest Butler, Kodosky Foundation, H-E-B, Applied Materials, Louise Epstein & John Henry McDonald, Topfer Family Foundation, The Mitte Foundation, Texas Bar Foundation, Long Foundation, David & Shiela Lastrapes, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, Silicon Labs, 3M Foundation, Kendal & Ken Gladish, Bill & Lynne Cariker, Cain Foundation, the Benavi Family, Oliver Custom Homes, D'Addario Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Savarez, Urban Betty, Ameriprise Financial, Cain Foundation, Charles Schwab, Dr. Ted Held, MFS Foundation, William Metz, Ted Philippus & Carol Wratten, Austin Bar Foundation, Savage Classical Guitar, Dr. Michael Froehls, Carl Caricari & Margaret Murray Miller, and Bill & Mary LaRosa, Bill & Marilyn Hartman, Michael & Carol Fields, Elaine & Michael Kasper, and Calido Guitars.


In 2006, Pushpa Basnet created a special home in Nepal for children of incarcerated parents who - due to overcrowding in Nepal’s orphanages – were left to either live with their parents in the prison or on the streets. In recognition of her work, she was chosen as CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2012, and in 2016 she was declared the CNN Super Hero: Above and Beyond!

Last year, she decided to bring music to the home, and into the lives of the dozens of children living there. She partnered with the Gharana Music Foundation in Kathmandu, and together they approached us here at ACG for support starting a guitar class.

We were thrilled to provide full access to our curriculum, training, guidance - anything we could do to help. Also, as we always do with new friends around the world, we created new arrangements of Nepali folk songs to add to our curriculum music library, so that the kids could learn to play songs they recognize.

We were delighted to learn of this beautiful video about the music education happening in this very special place.