A small group of musicians had a vision: create an organization to serve the interests of music and of the fretted instruments they loved so well -- Banjos, Mandolins and Guitars.
Vision becomes a reality with the formation in Boston, MA of The American Guild of Banjoist, Mandolinist, and Guitarists. I.H. Odell elected the organization's first President.
First convention held in Boston led by Convention Manager Walter Jacobs. Focus on programs and the issues of fretted instrument musicians and the advancement of music and teaching..
The membership has grown rapidly across the US and Canada. The convention is held in Washington, DC and invited to perform at the White House – establishing the status as an elite group.
Students are officially invited to join as associate members and participate actively – and the student competition was born. Competitions grew rapidly.
Accordions are added to the list of approved instruments – and the organization begins to move beyond only the fretted instruments.
With the rapid growth of members playing non-fretted instruments, the organization is renamed to the more inclusive "American Guild of Music". This was not popular with some folks who wanted to stay with original mission and Board meetings were focused on this one issue for the next few years.
Some of the original stalwarts of "fretted only" musicians break off and become a separate organization "Fretted Instrument Guild of America (FIGA)". With their departure, it allowed AGM to evolve into the organization it is today.
During this decade under the directorship of Billy Steed, AGM was strong with approximately equal members of accordion and guitar players. At the end of the decade, Guitar overtakes the accordion as the instrument of members, thanks to the popularity of the Beatles. The Guild magazine "Associate News" is launched (now known as "NEWS"). Membership is opened up to Europe and Australia. The regional contest system was created, with those champions coming together to compete at the North American Invitational Championship. The largest National Contest ever was held in Cincinnati, OH with over 2,000 students.
AGM Student Council was formed to help get feedback from associates. Evaluations solos were added to the process to give members a chance to perform another solo division. The success of evaluations were such a success it lead to the addition of age solos, pop, and the test list solos. First female President of AGM – Myrtle Robertson was elected. In 1978 Great Lakes Regional was formed by the team of Walter Truszkowski, Joyce Lucido and Richard Chizmadia
The Great Lakes Regional Contest (GLR) grew rapidly and participants came from as far as Nebraska, Missouri and Quebec, Canada. The GLR tried many new ideas which were then implemented at Nationals, including Sight Reading, All Around, Age Finals, and, more.
Moving into the computer age to schedule the contest more efficiently, publish its newsletters and produce materials for membership. The GLR became the largest music competition in North American and peaked at 2000 students playing 5,000 events. Contests and content continue to evolve with new locations like Indianapolis and Toronto.
2000's and beyond
AGM launched its first website and online contest registration system. AGM continues to move forward in the new century with the launch of its new website and enhanced online contest registration. As times evolve, we plan on AGM evolving with them by meeting our members' and students' needs with the latest modern and technological resources available to continue our dedication to music and music education.