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A few upcoming concerts and art events for Spring 2024

Hi all,

I just wanted to give a quick update for some concerts I recommend MAP students to attend.

Upcoming concerts

Attending music concerts is a critical part of education. Just as we learn language by listening to those around us speaking the language, we learn music by listening to it, and a concert is a presentation of music by people speaking their musical language. Plus, one of these concerts features a MAP music instructor as performer, and one features MAP students.

So, here’s some upcoming concerts:

For the paid events, MAP instructor Devin Ulibarri may be able to get students in for a discount. If you are currently taking lessons and interested in attending, please ask.

Upcoming art event

MAP art instructor Chie Yasuda will be showcasing her work as part of Somerville Open Studios on the weekend of May 4-5. If you are able, we encourage you to check out her work. Her art will be showcased at the Armory in Somerville, MA. More information is available at

Keep the learning going!

We hope that families can take advantage of this list of events, which we expect to be entertaining, educational, and inspiring. We’ll also do our best to keep you in the loop of other events.


Devin Ulibarri, MAP Teaching Artist

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Series: “Music and Arts Education: What’s the Point?” Episode 2: Why Music Students do Better in Academics

Mr. Devin plays together with one of his students

News headlines are regularly reminding us that kids who learn music do better in their academic classes as well. But why is this? Some argue that music lessons are the reason that those kids are doing better in their academics, while others argue that it’s the kids who would do better anyway, either because of their inherent drive or circumstances, that happen to also opt into music.

Common-sense reasons why music students do better in academics

While there is already much evidence to suggest the former, please consider these more common-sense observation from a music teacher (yours truly):

  1. Kids who take music lessons, just plain get more time with an adult mentor.

And that mentorship matters! Just think about it. Even if your kids are just enrolled one day per week in a music class or lesson, if they start when they are five years old, then by the time they are fifteen they will have received five-hundred more hours of direct instruction under an adult mentor than they would otherwise. This means that those kids who are taking music are talking to a skilled, professional, caring adult for five-hundred more hours that their peers who are not taking music.

  1. Some academic concepts are learned first in the music class.

This may seem counter-intuitive, so let me explain. For example, it’s often in music where kids first learn how to read a graph. Think about it: what is musical notation other than “pitch over time?” In order to read musical notation, students must become proficient at reading graphs. And they don’t just read these graphs once, they read them again and again until they master the skill. It’s no wonder that when students who study music get to their algebra class they’re ready—it’s because they’ve already mastered a certain level of literacy that will transfer to reading graphs in other subjects.

Of course, that’s just one example. Students who study music are exposed to other mathematical concepts, such as fractions (e.g. quarter notes, half notes, and the like). Students are also exposed to higher-level linguistics, such as poetry in the form of lyrics. For my youngest students, I am often teaching them what a syllable is in order to teach basic rhythms via words like “Zoo,” “Mon-key,” and “Al-li-ga-tor.” The list goes on and on.

  1. Music students are required to work in teams, which helps them build professional skills

Kids who take group music classes, such as band, choir, or ensemble, need to work together to accomplish their goals. They need to communicate with one another, they need to listen to each other to get the pitch and timing just right, and they need to be on time. In fact, to emphasize the last point, I’ll share that my high school jazz band teacher would always share with us this strict guidance: “Fifteen minutes early, on time. On time, late. Fifteen minutes late, fired.”

I will never forget this life lesson.

And the amazing thing is this: in music, kids want to build these professional skills. They want to communicate with one another because they want to solve the various challenges that good music presents them with. They want to listen to each other for rhythm and timing because that’s what makes the music sound better. And they want to be on time to rehearsals and to performances because they know that others are depending on them. All of these habits, of course, benefit them in their academics as well.

A young kid plays bellsets
Kai plays bellsets. Kids can start music early.


So these are some of my thoughts on some of the more common-sense, non-scientific reasons that I believe that every child benefits from musical instructions. Of course, if you need more scientific proof, I do invite you follow some of the links below and do some research on your own. However, if you’re persuaded, I encourage you to enroll your kids in music today—whether that be here at MAP Family Learning Center or elsewhere. Music education is a worthwhile investment, and one whose positive impact lasts a lifetime.

Student at piano with bellsets
Student at piano with bellsets and simplified musical notation. Music can be taught in an integrative way, together with other subjects.

More Music Education in the News

Here are some more resources on the efficacy of a quality, sustained music education:

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Series: “Music and Arts Education: What’s the Point?” Episode 1: Valentine’s Special — Love

Grandmother's message to my Dad on sheet music: "From Mom, with Love"

Music and Arts Education: What’s the Point? Episode 1: Love

As a leader in music and arts education, I find it my responsibility to communicate the importance and purpose of music and arts education.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I want to share the story of how my grandparents on my Dad’s side of the family met. Although I am the only person in my family who decided to do music as a career, music has been very important to my family. Music communicates to others thoughts and feelings that words cannot. This is the first in a series I call “Music and Arts Education: What’s the Point?” Today’s topic is “Love” (don’t worry, it will be family friendly). I plan to talk about “professional skills”, “cognitive”, and “social-emotional” in future posts/episodes. For today, I will focus on “Love”. All you need is Love… and Music Education!

Love: One of Music’s Many Roles

Music serves many purposes in society. One role music plays in society is of courtship, romance, friendship, and family; in other words, “Love”. Everyone is aware of the multitude of love songs broadcast on the radio, streaming, and in movies. “Love” is a central theme of many songs, sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit. Some love songs, historically, were later readapted as religious songs (and visa-versa).

Music: It is how my Grandparents Met

My grandfather was born in the early 1920’s and went into the U.S. Navy during World War II. At one point, he was stationed in Washington State and living in an apartment building. He grew up playing the guitar, learning songs from family members and from the radio (i.e. by ear). As he told the story to me, he was playing guitar by himself in his apartment room. My grandmother, who loved music and lived one story below in the same apartment, heard the music, ran upstairs, knocked on the door, and introduced herself.

The rest is history.

Fast Forward: Music’s role in my Family

Whenever I went to my grandparent’s house, inevitably someone would pull out an instrument and start playing music for everyone. In some ways, it was kind of like the music that held the family together. Whenever my grandfather pulled out the guitar and started playing songs like “You are my Sunshine”, my grandmother would stop everything she was doing and listen. More importantly, the look in her eye as she listened to my grandfather was just like she was twenty-years old again, like they were meeting again for the first time. Witnessing this interaction was always insightful for me. I could really see the power of music when I saw how my grandfather could bring the whole family together through music.

At this point you may be thinking, “Yeah, but this is the life of a family of professional musicians, right?” If you thought this, you would be mistaken.

I decided to become a “career musician”, yes, but my grandparents were not professional musicians. My grandfather’s career, other than the Navy, was that of a land owner and property manager. My grandmother took care of the family and the house. Neither had ever performed outside of our family gatherings. Nonetheless, music played an important role in their lives.

From the Heart: The Language of Music

Music communicates that which is difficult (dare I say “impossible”?) for words to say alone. The sort of communication that occurs when music is being performed is not the same as a speech or a book. It communicates similar things to a story, yes, but it also communicates feelings. I would argue that, in some ways, it communicates feelings more effectively and efficiently than even poetry alone.

At our family gatherings, when my grandparents played music for one another, they were communicating feelings. My grandfather’s first language was Spanish. He was born and raised in a farming village in New Mexico, and although this village is in the U.S., he learned Spanish first and English second. As a result, many of the songs that he knew were in Spanish.

My grandmother did not speak Spanish, but she loved these songs, and she loved to hear my grandfather serenade her with these songs. I know because I witnessed the two of them at the family gatherings. It is a wonderful memory for me to know how they loved each other.

My Grandmother’s Message to my Father and Me

My Grandmother purchased much sheet music during her life. She would write all over the music. She wrote notes directed to my Father, how also played the guitar, about which pieces he should learn, which ones she thought would sound nice. These messages survive today as I have some of the music in my possession. In some ways, they are like my grandmother’s little love notes to my Father, as well as to me. (I am mentioned on many of the notes as well.)

Grandmother's message to my Dad on sheet music: "From Mom, with Love"
“From Mother, with Love…” written on sheet music purchased for my Father from my Grandmother

My Grandmother always said that “If you are to become addicted to anything, become addicted to music”. She really loved and valued music. She really respected orchestra conductors, and wanted one of us in the family to become a conductor. Although I did not become a “orchestra conductor” per se, I have become a leader in music. I also think my grandmother is right about music being “healthy”. There are so many things to become addicted to, and music is one of the healthiest obsessions that a person can have. Exploring music deeply results in a better understanding of self and others. This is a topic that I will explore in further posts and episodes as well.

My grandmother also saw the great value in music education. She could see for herself how it impacted her own life in a positive way, as well as the important role that music plays in families and society as a whole.

All You Need is Love (and Music Education!)

In the video that I created to accompany this post, I sing and play my own arrangement of “All you need is Love” by the Beetles. I created this arrangement specifically for my sister-in-laws wedding. Performing music at such occasions is yet another reason music education is important. When you have someone in the family who has taken the time and effort to learn music, then you have a person who can provide, culturally, to the family and their circles. When you invest in a person’s music education, then you put them on the path to a healthier lifestyle. When you play music for your loved ones, you communicate not only the literal meanings of the lyrics, but the emotions and feelings expressed in the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

"Music and Arts Education: What's the Point?" Episode 1: Valentine's Special -- Love

This Valentine’s Day, please enjoy some music. Also, consider the role that music education has on Life, Love, and Family. Enjoy!