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Latest Student Composition

Jaedon's Completed Draft

Jaedon came to his guitar lesson last Saturday with his very own composition. It sounded nice and I always like to encourage creative ventures such as this, so I worked with the student to finish and transcribe the snippet.

The student came in with the following musical idea, which we wrote down by hand together.

Hand-written draft of musical idea.

Composition: Implications for Learning

An exercise such as this is wonderful. In the process of composing music, students learn a lot about music theory. This musical example, for example, uses arpeggios, a sequence (i.e. repeating pattern), and oblique motion (i.e. the high e remains, while the other voices move down). More importantly, musical composition requires students to reach toward mastery in a way that just playing pieces does not.

Analogies to Language Learning

Analogous to writing music to learn music is writing to learn language. Reading, for example, requires a certain level of linguistic understanding in order to interpret the meaning of a given text. However, writing requires a student to utilize all of the linguistic tools that they have read.

A good education in music should encourage building literacy skills in this same way. It should encourage students to be able to both read and write music, to be able to both listen and perform with musical understanding.

Additional Skills Learned

Music education has many analogies to other disciplines such as described in the example above. However, music also helps students develop skills that are unique to music. For example, Jaedon’s piece has multiple voices, creating musical harmony. This requires understanding of both independence and dependence of the different musical voices. In life, there are many times when we need to work together–to complete a task, for example–which require everyone in the group to work with both independence as well as in harmony as a team (i.e. teamwork).

Independence is important because each person (or voice, for music) has its own unique role. Without independence, the voices become redundant and unnecessary. Teamwork is important because, in order to accomplish a big goal, people need to work together. In music, the various voices work together to create harmony, which can be heard and felt.

“Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (source)

Skills such as these could be learned via other disciplines, but with music we explore harmony and disharmony in a unique way, which powerfully supplements a student’s education. Many architects, for example, have cited music as playing an important role in their understanding of architecture. This makes sense, since architectural design requires its own understanding of harmony with regard to a building’s context, utility, and complex organization.

Music+Code: Integrating Coding

Here at MAP, we like to integrate the different disciplines of Music, Art, and Programming. We also insist to use free/libre software tools (think “free” as in “free speech”). We like to do the former because integrating various disciplines is an important skill, as well as being fun. We insist on the latter because the freedoms–freedom to share, study, remix, and (re)distribute–of free/libre software are critical to education. Lilypond software is one such tool that fits both criteria.

After the lesson, I took Jaedon’s music and transcribed it with Lilypond software, which is expressed as a kind of code. For example, a8 is pitch a (i.e. “la”) for an eighth note duration. Pitches are strung together to create melodies. See below for an image of the full Lilypond Code.

Lilypond Code of Jaedon’s piece

Polished Draft of Student Composition

Lilypond interprets the code and generates a PDF. This is similar to how a browser interprets HTML and generates a webpage. Below is the final output.

Completed Draft of Student Work

All in all, Jaedon is off to a great start. I have encouraged him to come up with a second half of this piece. When I get the second half, I will share it on this site.

What does it sound like?

I hope to share a video of Jaedon performing his piece soon. In the meantime, here is a video of me performing the piece.

Jaedon's Piece

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Student Performance of Snowflight

MAP Student Plays Snowflight

Guitarist and composer Andrew York writes great music for both advanced players as well as intermediate players. The following video features a MAP guitar student performing Andrew York’s “Snowflight”, which is a beautiful piece that evokes a winter scene (much like we are experiencing right now in the greater Boston area).

"Snowflight" by Andrew York

We hope you enjoy this students’ performance. She started guitar from the very beginning with MAP instructor Devin Ulibarri. She has made remarkable progress and you can too if you start lessons today.

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Student Performance of “Promenade”

MAP student performs “Promenade” by Robert Hamilton. This piece features a melody in the top voice, and an active bass line in the lower voice. Students use their thumb to play the bass notes and “i” and “m” fingers to play the top notes. The piece is in A minor.

"Promenade" performed by MAP student
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Student Performance of “Early One Morning”

MAP student performing a piece.

This is one of our MAP students playing the guitar. He is playing an English traditional called “Early One Morning” as transcribed by Richard Summers and published in The Royal Conservatory Level 1 book. This piece features an upper voice with a very wide range as well as an AABA form.

Student performance of "Early One Morning"

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Malden MAP Students Perform for Mayor

Students smile for a photo with the city's mayor at the end of a successful "sharing session".

At the end of the previous session, Malden MAP guitar students gathered online for their weekly “sharing session”. This time, however, the city’s mayor, Gary Christenson joined as well to hear the students.

Sharing sessions are an important part of the education at MAP Family Learning Center. By having students showcase what they have been working on on a regular basis, they are motivated as well as given another opportunity to reflect upon their progress.

We greatly appreciate the Malden mayor’s ongoing support of our students. He has heard some of these students since they first began guitar about five years ago. At the end of the session, Mr. Devin asked the mayor if he could say a few things to the kids. He encouraged the kids that they really inspire hope in the community, giving him a very positive answer to the question “What does the future hold?”

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Online Classes

Amid the recent changes to daily living due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MAP has temporarily suspended in-person classes.

Currently, we are doing all online classes. These classes entail doing a lesson over a video conference, regular communications with families with instructional media, and regular group meetings over video conference. Please see the pictures to see what online instruction looks like from our office.

Connect Online

How to connect?

It is simple. If you want to try out our system and speak with an instructor (during hours), you can connect to a room via Jitsi at

Contact us to reserve a trial lesson. This visit is absolutely free and no commitment.

You must schedule a time by contacting us beforehand in order to receive the room name and reserve a time.

(1) Connect with a Desktop Computer

Connect via Laptop/Desktop

…or Connect with your Android or iPhone device, and…

Jitsi for Android

Jitsi for Android with F-Droid

…and (2) join us in your assinged room.

If you have any questions, please reply to this message and/or call us at 781-605-3711. Thanks!

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Students Perform for Lunar New Year

Students perform for Lunar New Year Event

MAP Guitar students performed for a local Lunar New Year performance hosted by the Chinese Cultural Connection. They performed “The Cay”, a fun piece in four parts that has a reggae beat. One of the parents captured the performance from backstage.


The kids did a great job on this challenging arrangement. Moreover, students learn a lot from performances (e.g. professional skills of deadlines and preparation) which is why MAP is committed to finding every opportunity to get the kids out and involved in their local communities. We look forward to the next performance!

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Books and Strings Available at MAP!

Photo of books and guitar strings that are now available at our Malden location.

One thing that I heard from families was that they want to conveniently pick up strings, books, and other materials directly at our location. I know it can be frustrating to be asked to purchase these materials on your own, so I worked out a deal with Johnson String Instrument to provide us with the materials I (as the music teacher) recommend at our Malden, MAP location.

Now, with our first shipment in, you can purchase:

  • Guitar strings (1/2, 3/4, and full-size)
  • Guitar Books for Levels 3, 4, and 5 (Goodwin and Parkening)
  • Footstools

We offer everything at competitive prices that are lower than their suggested retail rate. We do this, because our main aim in providing the books is the added convenience for our families.

Also, just a reminder that we are still selling snacks and Chie’s greeting cards and small jewelry. Enjoy!