ACG’s Community Guitarists Program currently has two ensembles that rehearse weekly and perform regularly under the direction of Eric Pearson.  The Community Guitarists’ final recital is free and open to the public on Sunday, December 8th at 5PM at Trinity united Methodist Church (4001 Speedway) – a reception will follow the program.  For more information on the recital, or to inquire about joining an ensemble, call 512-300-2247.  New members will be added for the spring semester in January.

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In 2007 I spent about 1 year learning acoustic guitar.  I liked it ok, but I was looking for something more than strumming and picking.  It seems that I had always been interested in classical guitar music, but had not pursued it.  I made the commitment with the purchase of a Francisco Navarro Special Grand Concert guitar.  I was so focused on that masterfully built instrument that I missed one obvious issue: we live in a remote area of Texas between Smithville and La Grange and there isn’t a classical guitar instructor to be found within a 50-mile radius!

Having completed a few lessons with my acoustic guitar and knowing how to read music from my high school band days, I then purchased a classical guitar instruction book and learned a little.  But, improvement was painfully slow, and too solitary for my taste.

With a little research on the internet, however, I discovered Austin Classical Guitar (ACG).  ACG had a Community Guitarist ensemble group and were interviewing guitarists for a new semester of music making.   Luckily I had learned a couple of simple classical guitar solo pieces from my instruction book – so when I played those in my interview it wasn’t too embarrassing, and I was added to the novice group.

What I great decision this was to join the ACG ensemble!  The instructor was easy to work with and made the class interesting, informative, and fun.  I learned much in this entry level class and did not mind starting in the last chair of guitar IV.  I was in a group of other guitarists with experience ranging from about 5 to 15 plus years.  The group included some very nice people from the immediate Austin area and some driving in from Dripping Springs, Round Rock, and Georgetown.

Six years later I still make the 2 plus hour round trip to my ACG ensemble practice on Sunday afternoons, and look forward to it every week.

My wife and I also drive into Austin for many of the concerts organized by ACG.  We have had wonderful evenings of classical guitar listening to great guitarist from around the world.  The new event center is GT Austin and should not be missed.

Recently my wife and I hosted a home concert with a great group of young guitarists known as “UT Quartet”.  It was a kickoff party to start conversations with others in our community about the possibility of helping build an education program in our local schools similar to what ACG does now in 40 Austin area schools serving about 2,000 children every week.  The more we lean about what ACG is doing in schools and community, the more excited we become.

I recommend ACG ensemble groups for those who would like to play guitar music with others.  I also suggest trying an ACG concert if you haven’t been!

Ed Collins, ACG Community Guitar Ensemble Member since 2007

Read our previous Changing Lives story: “On fire for music…”