MusicLaunch Guitar Turns 5

Can you believe that as of April 6, 2018 MusicLaunch Guitar at Malden YMCA is officially 5 years old?


As we come together to celebrate Healthy Kids Day tomorrow, 11AM-2PM at the Malden Y, Saturday April 21, 2018, we also celebrate this important program milestone!

Congratulations, Mr. Devin!!!

I’m so proud of your efforts and determination in making MusicLaunch Guitar such an awesome program for all the Malden YMCA kids that have participated over these 5 years! As someone that helped plan the start of the program, meeting with you at a Dunkin Donuts to sketch out the idea on napkins in the Fall of 2012, I’m so proud to see it having gone this far.

In addition to Mr. Devin, we’d like to recognize and thank:

  • the Malden YMCA’s commitment to the program
  • the Malden Cultural Council, which helped fund the program in the first {HOW MANY?] years
  • Members of the Boston Classical Guitar Society, who helped purchase the program’s guitars in the first year
  • Instructor Bradley Stone
  • Former Instructor Raley Beggs
  • Former Interns Jon Kim and Tommy [Last Name]
  • Parents and their wonderful kids

I was going to get a cake with this image, but then, that didn’t seem to really fit the “Healthy Kids Day” theme!

MusicLaunch Guitar Turns 5!

MusicLaunch Guitar Turns 5!

Here’s to the next 5 years!!!

Duet Ten (FUGUE): Practice Video

Mr. Devin and Mr. Raley play through Duet Ten, also known as the Fugue from Violin Sonata #3 (BWV 1005) by J.S. Bach.

Mr. Devin is playing the MELODY

Mr. Raley is playing the ACCOMPANIMENT


Happy Practicing!!

Duet Eight: Student Practice Video


Mr. Devin and Mr. Raley play through BOTH parts of “Duet Eight”.

Raley Beggs – The First Noel

Hello Malden YMCA Guitarists and Parents!

As our Malden based guitar community makes final steps towards the end of the guitar session and the end of the year, I wanted to take a moment to share with you a Holiday music favorite on the instrument we are all so passionate about—guitar! Please follow the link below and enjoy!



Happy Practicing,

“Mr. Raley”

Right Hand Charts: Student Work Showcase

Student work: A trace of a hand with Right Hand finger names.

Student work: A trace of a hand with Right Hand finger names.

Last week Mr. Devin assigned the Level 1 class homework to trace their hands and write the finger names for the right hand onto the drawing to help remember the names of the fingers on the right hand.

In guitar, we have names for each finger:

  • Thumb = p (pulgar)
  • Index = i (indice)
  • Middle = m (medio)
  • Ring Finger = a (anular)
  • Pinky = c (chiquito)

These names come from the Spanish names for the fingers and are above in parenthesis. (This site also references the finger names for guitar:

Student work: A trace of a hand with Right Hand finger names.

Student work: A trace of a hand with Right Hand finger names.

Great job Level 1 class! Bravo!

All Stars Students Learn About Scales!

One thing that is tricky about the guitar is that the guitar has all of the correct (intended) notes right next to all of the wrong (unintended) notes. This can make it a challenge to learn a new piece of music on the guitar.

That is where scales come in handy!

If you memorize where the correct notes are in a scale, you will save a lot of time learning new music. This is because much music shares the same scales. Remember the scales and you can spend more time memorizing harmonies and melodies unique to each song and not what notes it has.

In order to impart this important knowledge to his students, this week Mr. Devin drew up the following charts and pictures on the whiteboard:


On the left is an image of a stair case, which is a great metaphor for a musical scale. You can go up and down in pitch on a musical scale similar to the way that you can go up and down a stair case. On the right side is a chart that maps out where the notes are on the guitar.

Working on Rhythm This Week.

There is math in music! There is also music in math!

Today, students learned how to read rhythms by making “rhythm clocks”.

It may look complicated at first, but it is easy. Everything starts from the “whole note”. From there, we can cut the rhythmic durations in half to get a “half” notes. Cut the durations in half again and you get “quarter” notes. Starting to see the pattern?



Students worked on rhythm and meter by looking at it as “clocks”. Thinking of note values as being on a clock is helpful, because beats repeat themselves in a meter, much the same way that the hands on a clock circle around and around.

Try making some at home on your own!

Performance at the 2015 Malden Cultural Council Grantees Reception

On Saturday, May 16th 2015, MLG students led by instructor Raley Beggs played at the Malden Cultural Council Grantees Reception.
The kids were amazing! We are so proud of their accomplishments!

YMCA Malden Guitar students perform at the Malden Cultural Council Grantee's Reception, May 16, 2015

YMCA Malden Guitar students perform at the Malden Cultural Council Grantee’s Reception, May 16, 2015













At this point in the project, from April 2013 to May 2015:

  • 156 students have participated in the program.
  • MusicLaunch Guitar has provided approximately 400 hours of group instruction in classical guitar.
  • Students have participated in YGW at Boston GuitarFest last year. 6 YMCA Malden students participated in 2014 with a total of $975 of scholarship funds awarded to our students.
  • Grew to 9 classes from 3 classes our first term.
  • A few students from our very first term are still taking classes today!
  • …and their parents are now taking the new adult class!!!
  • Help from 5 interns from New England Conservatory.

Variations on a Spanish Theme

The students in my All Stars class are working on this piece and I just found a recording of myself playing this from January 2014. Enjoy!


YMCA Malden Students attend YGW April Weekend Workshop

Eight MusicLaunch Malden students attended the Young Guitarists Workshop’s April Weekend Workshop event the weekend of April 24-26 at Johnson Strings in Newton, MA.
(Read here for more about YGW

A workshop like this is a great chance for students to learn from other teachers, meet other guitarists their same age who are in the area, and have a great experience putting together some new repertoire for a final concert in a beautiful and intimate space.

The kids really seemed to enjoy themselves and really played well!

Young Guitarist Workshop at Johnson Strings, getting ready for the final performance, April 26th 2015

Young Guitarist Workshop at Johnson Strings, getting ready for the final performance, April 26th 2015