Just asked to Conduct New Mexico All State

2/15/2010 Monday 5:50 pm

After many years of tireless advocacy, John Truitt and his colleagues in New Mexico (particularly those at the fabulous guitar department at Albuquerque Academy) had their first experience this past January at New Mexico All State with an official division for classical guitar.  While I was not there, I’m told that it was a great success, around 70 guitarists from around New Mexico were represented on stage and they played a variety of pieces.  This is particularly significant because, as far as I know, New Mexico became the first state to have classical guitar nestled along side of all state band, orchestra and choir programs.  What a monumental achievement for Mr. Truitt, and for the classical guitar.  It is this backdrop that causes me to be particularly proud to have been called recently, and quite unexpectedly, by Mr. Truitt, and asked to conduct and run clinics for next year’s New Mexico All State Guitar event in January.  I am truly honored and I deeply look forward to playing my small part in this great move forward.

Classical Guitar is a tremendous ambassador for the fine arts.  We have seen our program in Austin grow from serving around 15 to serving around 600 kids each day through guitar classes.  When its done really well, students have a great time, learn the skills you would expect them to learn in any great music class, and the retention rate is phenomenal.  Last year we did a poll of several hundred kids in our class and it turned out that around 90% of them were coming to music in middle school and high school for the first time through guitar class!  The UT School of Social Work even did a $20K Social Impact study on the program that was completed in November 2009 – I’m happy to share!

Arts Admin News

2/13/2010 Saturday 5:29 pm

I have had a lot of fun lately meeting with new nonprofs and established nonprofs looking for new direction.  In the last few months I’ve been somewhat heavily involved in steering a strategic planning effort for Texas Choral Consort – an org I sit on the advisory board for, because my good friend Brent Baldwin is the AD and he asked me too.  TCC is a cool group with a strong community-based mission to bring the opportunity of singing to anyone in the community who wishes it via non-auditioned singing opportunities (among a lot of other stuff).

I really have enjoyed my engagement, on the artistic advisory board, of the SIMS Foundation for which we had loads of fun setting up a collaborative classical music concert hosted by Austin philanthropists Andrew and Mary Ann Heller at their amazing Congress Street home and concert hall!  The SIMS Foundation helps Austin musicians with mental health and addiction issues, something that is near and dear to Glenda and I at this time especially having lost a dear friend, and fine singer songwriter, not terribly long ago.

But when it rains it pours, does it not?  I’ve found myself in compelling meetings in 2010 alone with David Neff of Lights, Camera, Help, Emily Marks, the genius behind Girls Rock Camp Austin, the dynamic CJ Menge of the Inside Out Steel Drum project, and Rod Saunders of the Tulsa Classical Guitar Society.  We have had fantastic discussions on a range of topics from networking, to fundraising, building boards of directors, developing programming that serves diverse communities, interfacing with school district administrations and so much more.  It is energizing to be engaged with so many creative and disciplined minds who dedicate tremendous energy to community service through the arts.

Strumathon and more…

2/13/2010 Saturday 5:04 pm

The action continued today.  Up and out bright and early today to the Concordia University campus where many guitarists got together for our first-ever strumathon!  Don’t know what that is?  Here’s a blog entry on Austin Goes Classical.

Glenda and I had a wonderful time last weekend with Ana Vidovic during her stay in Austin.  We also had fun meeting her brother Silvije and his wife (from Portugal) Omayra.  We all went to dinner with our dear friend (and ACGS board member) Michael Fields and his wife Carol on Friday evening before the concert.

Here’s a picture of Ana, Glenda and me at another restaurant following her dazzling concert last Saturday night.

Matt, Glenda and Ana, after the concert.

New Website!

2/12/2010 Friday 10:10 pm

Matt and Glenda are very pleased to have this new site launched earlier this afternoon. We were in San Antonio, attending the Texas Music Educators Association Convention where Matt was nominated for President Elect of the Texas Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, where he got to stand and wave when his student Thales played as the honoree for winning the ASTA national junior guitar division championship in Atlanta, and where he watched Jeremy and Travis – colleagues at ACGS – give a wonderful presentation on the ACGS education curriculum to a warm reception!

We are deeply thankful to John and Yuri (L5 and Mint Design, respectively) for putting this site together for us.  We were having tea at San Antonio’s Mad Hatters Tea Shop when we first saw the site go live.

Back in Austin now we are off to bed soon so we can rise refreshed bright and early tomorrow and head off to the ACGS Strum-a-thon at Concordia University where around 50 or so guitarists will practice for the day raising money and awareness for our giant festival coming up in June.