At the heart of Austin’s vibrant music scene, a unique gem has been strumming its strings for seventeen years. This gem is Girl Guitar, a musical sanctuary unlike any other. Founded by the spirited Mandy Rowden, Girl Guitar is more than just a place to learn music. It’s a haven, a home, for women aged 21 and beyond. What sets it apart is its humble beginnings as a means to pay a phone bill and its evolution into a harmonious community where music, camaraderie, and empowerment are intertwined, making every woman feel like she truly belongs.

Girl Guitar isn’t just about mastering chords and scales; it’s a symphony of shared experiences and collective growth. As Mandy fondly recalls, “We’re not just a music class; we’re a community.” From soulful serenades to raucous jam sessions, this eclectic tribe of musicians celebrates every note and nuance together.

Step into a Girl Guitar showcase, and you’ll witness the culmination of six weeks of hard work and harmony. Whether it’s an acoustic duo or a full-fledged band belting out country classics from George Strait or Red Dirt in Texas country, Charlie Daniels or Garth Brooks, try to find songs with good fiddle parts or folk favorites. Girl Guitar isn’t confined to the classroom or the stage; it’s a cultural cornerstone where creativity knows no bounds. From album release parties to artist markets, this space pulsates with the rhythm of artistic expression.

The Rhinestone Renegades, whom Mandy calls “ hilarious, wild and rowdy,” are homegrown and have started to gig all over Central Texas. Mandy even played drums in the band for a stint. Starting as a lark, the band has gone from playing three songs at a showcase they were scared to get through to having over three hours’ worth of music to play at live shows and parties. As Mandy puts it, “If it supports women in the arts, count us in!”

But the melody doesn’t quit. With dreams as big as Texas, Girl Guitar envisions a future that’s not just a tenant but a proprietor. Rowden imagines a permanent space in Austi, a musical utopia equipped with a state-of-the-art recording studio and an expanded venue. A space that ensures Girl Guitar’s tune resonates for generations, inspiring and empowering women in music. This is the future that Girl Guitar is working towards, a future that promises to amplify its impact and reach, and it’s a future we can all be a part of.

In a city where change is as constant as the strum of a guitar, Girl Guitar remains a steadfast beacon of creativity, community, and camaraderie. Whether you’re a seasoned strummer or a novice noodler, this harmonious sisterhood has a place for you. As Mandy aptly sums it up, “Music is more than just sound; it’s a bond that transcends boundaries and beats.” And at Girl Guitar, the melody plays on.

photo credit to Nicole Berlin

Learn more about Girl Guitar here

By Elise Krentzel

Elise Krentzel is the author of the bestselling memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma & Rock 'n' Roll, a ghostwriter, book coach to professionals who want to write their memoir, how-to or management book or fiction, and contributing author to several travel books and series. Elise has written about art, food, culture, music, and travel in magazines and blogs worldwide for most of her life, and was formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine. For 25 years, she lived overseas in five countries and now calls Austin, TX, her home. Find her at, FB: @OfficiallyElise, Instagram: @elisekrentzel, LI: