Since the age of 13, when she took her first drum kit class, Annette has been playing a multitude of percussion instruments – congas, hand drums, percussion instruments, marimbas, drum kit, and timpani. During junior high school, with her brother Jaime, she developed and performed in local bands. At sixteen she was recognized for her percussion playing and was asked to sit in and play with internationally renowned Latin artists such as Chepito Areas (Santana's percussionist), Cal Tjader and Pete and Sheila Escovedo (later known as Sheila E.). At that time she saw her first symphony performance and was so taken by the music that she decided to go to college for classical music. As a young musician Annette studied Afro-Cuban percussion with Marcus Gordon and learned Brazilian percussion performing with the Afro-Brazilian group Batucaje.
At San Francisco State University she studied classical music (orchestral percussion) and jazz, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in performance (classical music, orchestral percussion). Later, she moved to New York and earned a Masters in Music (classical music, orchestral percussion) from Manhattan School of Music, also studying percussion, drums and composition. During graduate school she attended Harbor Performing Arts School in East Harlem the exclusive school of Afro-Cuban studies in the U.S., where she studied with Luis Bauzo and Johnny Almendra. In addition, she studied privately with Jerry Gonzalez of Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band.

In a professional career that has spanned more than twenty years, Annette has recorded for mainstream and independent record companies and television broadcasts and has toured extensively with well-known Latin, reggae, classical, pop and jazz artists. She has shared the stage and performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Darlene Love, Tito Puente, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Cliff, Ladysmith Black Mamzabo, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and Toshi Reagon. For ten years she toured with the well-known contemporary reggae group Casselberry-Dupree, whose album City Down with Annette's percussion, won the 1986 NAIRD award for Best Independent Reggae Album and was mentioned in the LA Times as being one of three outstanding albums of 1986, along with Peter Gabriel's So and Madonna's True Blue.

In addition, she has worked with Flamenco dancers and ballet companies, toured with opera companies, and played with several orchestras in the New York area (presently typanist with the Bronx Symphony).

Annette's Broadway credits include Grammy-winning Smokey Joe's Café for which she played on Broadway and with the national tour; Streetcorner Symphony orchestrated by Daryl Waters (1996 Tony nominee, Best Original Score for a Musical for Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk); Paul Simon's The Capeman, 1998 Tony nominee for Best Original Musical Score and for Best Orchestration; the Lincoln Center workshop's production of Chronicle of a Death Foretold (workshop and Broadway, on stage and in the orchestra) nominated for Best Musical in 1996, directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele who earned 2 Tony nominations for the show, for Best Choreography and Best Book; and the smash hit musical Once On This Island, also directed and choreographed by Ms. Daniele, which, in 1991, received 8 Tony nominations.

After her performance at the1987 Sisterfire Festival in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reported that "the Afro-Cuban jazz of Annette A. Aguilar brought the crowd to its feet." Annette continues to bring the crowd to its feet with Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans, her Latin Brasilian Jazz group that she formed in 1992, and with whom she performs in the greater New York City and surrounding area. With StringBeans, Annette has released her first CD, Special Friends (Eagle Seeks Salmon Productions), which has been well received by both music industry professionals and fans. Special Friends is currently being aired on Jazz 88.3 FM WBGO's Latin Jazz Cruise program and was chosen to be included in the choice "Latin Plays of the Month" for both October and November 1999 on the WBGO website.

Annette's contribution as a musician has been documented in She's A Rebel a history of women in rock and roll, by Gillian Car with a preface by Yoko Ono. And Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans was recently featured in the Fall 1999 Latin American Perspective issue of Grito, a California Latin magazine, along with Santana, Ricky Martin, and Jennifer Lopez.

Besides her active performing career, Annette teaches percussion at the Third Street Music School Settlement and gives seminars and clinics throughout the boroughs of New York City in the New York Public Library educational programs.