Acoustic Athletes

It would be an understatement to say that Tullahoma, TN is an economically diverse town. It boasts a whopping 9.2% post-graduate degree rate, while 17.2% of it’s residents live below the poverty line (the Tennessee state average is 13.5%) [1]. As one of the middle-upper class residents, it is easy to forget that so many live with so little. Not so for Andrew Rigney. Andrew is a high school student with tons of crazy talent. He won the Tennessee state guitar championship two years in a row and a number of other titles in guitar and mandolin. He plays with his family in the Rigney Family Bluegrass Band, who just released their second CD.

But Andrew’s plethora of accomplishments and awards are not what sets him apart. This year, he founded the community service project Acoustic Athletes, a volunteer musical outreach program. It works like this: once a week, after school, Andrew meets with a group of middle school students from lower income families, who could not otherwise afford an acoustic guitar and lessons. He teaches them the basics and they are given time during the week to “check out” the guitars from the music room to practice what they have learned. The idea is simple. Give the kids a creative outlet to express themselves and they have a better chance of being sucessful in the future.

“Music is such a blessing in my family’s life; hopefully we will have a chance to turn that into a blessing for some of these kids,” Andrew says of the program. Besides the free lessons, students have another incentive to stick with the program. “Once the kids have logged twenty-five class hours, and twenty-five solo practice hours, we will give them a guitar to keep.” So far, nine middle school students are signed up for the program and others have had to be turned down.

Andrew hopes to get more volunteers to join in the future, but for now he’s happy with the help of friends and family. “I hope that Acoustic Athletes will eventually grow into a multi-school program so that kids all over can have the opportunity to learn acoustic music,” he says.

And what happens in two years when Andrew graduates and moves off to college? Let’s just say his younger brother, Grant, is poised to step in. “He’s won National Instrumental Entertainer of the Year at the Smithville jamboree three years in a row,” says Andrew. “He’s a shoe-in for the job.”

Have extra cash or an old unused guitar lying around? Acoustic Atheletes needs you! You can contact Andrew through the Acoustic Athletes website, or directly at

One Comment

  1. Valee:

    How did you make the baffles? Will they cteolepmly remove the bad room sounds? I will be recording in a small room about 11 x 11. I have bass traps etc. already but I know small rooms are horrible for recording acoustic guitar. If I use bass traps, put an acoustic absorber cloud on the ceiling and build these baffles will I be able to eliminate the bass buildup etc. inherent in a small room from reaching the mic? Would if be better to build bigger baffles?

    2:35 pm on November 24th, 2012

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