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Matt Hinsley Leads New Generation to Classical Guitar

Austin Classical Guitar SocietyWhile in Austin for the SXSW music festival last month, I took a break from the festival's famous rock and roll extravaganza to meet up with Dr. Matthew Hinsley, the Executive Director of the Austin Classical Guitar Society (ACGS).  I learned about Matt from Jason Vieaux, who in addition to his extensive performance career also teaches classical guitar lessons online here at ArtistWorks.  Jason explained to me that under Matt's leadership the ACGS has become the largest guitar society in the United States, and is now one of the largest guitar societies in the world. 

I met up with Matt just outside of Austin's SXSW festival area for breakfast and a chat, and here are a few things you need to know about him.  Matt is master guitar teacher and educator, virtuoso performer, and an energetic popularizer of the classical guitar as a concert instrument. He has devoted his entire adult life to the classical guitar, and it was clear to me after only a few minutes with Matt that he is probably one of world's greatest evangelists of the instrument.  Under Matt's leadership, the ACGS has become the epicenter of a major resurgence in interest in the classical guitar.

Reaching Young People

Matt explained to me that the Austin Classical Guitar Society sees it's mission as threefold:

First, to promote classical guitar as an instrument of serious study.

Second, to promote classical guitar performances to all music lovers.

Third, to change the lives of young people by offering classroom classical guitar instruction to students at all socio-economic levels. 

The ACGS is partnering with a growing number of educators who believe that music instruction enriches all aspects of students' lives. With financial assistance from donors and additional grants from Austin-area governmental bodies, the ACGS has made classroom guitar lessons a fixture in Austin-area public schools, countering the world-wide trend towards de-funding music education in schools. 

The ACGS program is reaching astounding numbers of young people, with current enrollment figures exceeding 1500 in 30 school programs.  In an age when most young people experience music as YouTube videos, the ACGS classroom classical guitar program provides an alternate musical portal - one that leads young people to the ageless, timeless beauty of classical music.  In addition to public school programs, the ACGS also provides classical guitar learning programs to troubled youths who find themselves wards of the Travis County juvenile justice system. 

Matt told me that children enrolled in ACGS programs respond in strong and positive ways - regardless of their economic backgrounds.  He has observed that enabling young people to experience the pride and pleasure of making their own music results in positive changes that extend well beyond the classroom.  Students who apply themselves to learning a serious instrument like classical guitar experience a profound sense of accomplishment, higher self-esteem, and motivation to succeed in all areas of their lives.

Beyond Austin

The AGCS has been working on its classroom classical guitar curricula since 2004.  Reaching beyond the Austin area, Matt and the ACGS are seeding similar programs in schools all around the world., founded by Matt and the AGCS, is a central clearing-house for classroom classical guitar teaching materials and classroom guitar repertoire.  For a nominal enrollment fee, music educators around the world can gain access to a website repository of ACGS classroom classical guitar materials.  Participating teachers are encouraged to help the grow by contributing new teaching materials and repertoire.

Matt Hinsley - classical guitar educator Back To Matt

You would think that Matt's accomplishments as the leader of the ACGS would be enough, but if you did, you would be wrong.  Matt still finds time to teach private guitar lessons to 55 individual students in his home studio each and every week.  I asked him if he found teaching that many students exhausting, and to my surprise he told me, "No!  I love it and feel totally energized by my students".  Matt means it, and his students are extremely lucky to have him. 

Matt also finds time to write articles and books, including Classical Guitar for Young People with repertoire aimed especially at children, and a book called Creativity to Community:  Arts Nonprofit Success One Coffee At A Time that shares Matt's knowledge and experience operating a non-profit. Both are published by EnvisionArts Publications.  He remains in demand as a performer in his own right, known in particular for his performances of Mario Casetlnuovo-Tedesco’s complete 10-song cycle entitled "Vogelweide" where, unusually, he plays the classical guitar part and performs the vocal part simultaneously.

At such a cynical time in history, consider and celebrate Matt Hinsley.  Energetic and infectiously positive, Matt is changing lives through music each and every day.  How great is that!

- David Butler, CEO, ArtistWorks



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You can reach Matt through the Austin Classical Guitar Society:

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Books by Matthew Hinsley

Creativity to Community: Arts Nonprofit Success One Coffee at a Time

Matthew Hinsely Creative to Community














Classical Guitar for Young People


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