Bringing Music back to the YMCA
To what extent can we link our internship goals with the core values and mission of the YMCA?
Guided Internship
Spring 2011

Photo of the front of YMCA in Chinatown

This portfolio takes you through how the students of the

New England Conservatory brought music back to the

YMCA in Chinatown, MA for the Spring of 2011

Music and Health

Arguably the strongest reason for young people to get involved in the arts is it’s ability to provide a means of communicating what is sometimes hard to put in to words. Every attentive parent knows their child is not always able to convey what it is they are thinking, or more importantly, feeling. Andrew got the inspiration to teach Mingsley about music’s power to convey feelings through Eli Epstein’s Inside Out concert series. As a young adult Andrew remembers feeling alone and misunderstood. It was in large part through music that he was able to find reassurance in both being heard and knowing he wasn’t alone in these feelings. For a child just entering adolescence like Mingsley, such an outlet is huge.

The following lesson plan explores the third movement from Brahms’ third symphony, which happens to be a sad, impassioned movement. Andrew and Mingsley had a brief discussion about Brahms’ experiences losing his mentor in a painfully tragic and drawn out manner and his life long unrequited love for a woman much older than him.

Building Confidence

Jason's Thank You Letter

Music empowers the individual. Music gives us interpersonal and intrapersonal understanding that people can take with them for the rest of their lives.

Devin Ulibarri’s student, Jason, knew the power of music from the first day that he came to class. He had very big goals for learning music, which he demonstrated in reflective work done with Mr. Ulibarri. For example, he drew the guitar very large, with a large audience watching and cheering on. From this, we could tell that he understood the emotional and communicative power of music and he wanted to master the guitar to gain these skills. As teachers, we want our students to master musical skills because that gives them confidence.

Below is a transcript of a lesson with Jason, that begins with him struggling through a new piece and ends with him exclaiming matter of factly, "I did it." Moments like this build confidence in our students at the YMCA.

Transcript of lesson with Jason learning "My First Rock Song" and Performing it for the first time.

Since Mingsley had been in the Chinatown Band program as well as studying piano privately, Andrew decided he would best benefit from using music as a means by which to cultivate self-discipline, patience, and above all the ability to be your own best teacher. At the beginning of the year when Andrew would ask reflective questions forcing Mingsley to solve his own problems he didn’t have the confidence to believe he had the answers.

Andrew, who had absolutely no experience playing the flute, brought a flute to Chinatown Band and for five weeks forced Mingsley to teach Andrew how to play the flute. In the beginning Mingsley had fairly easy instructions to give: how to hold the flute, which end to blow into, how to breath, etc. However, as the weeks advanced and his "student" got better, Mingsley was forced to solve increasingly minute problems. By the end of the fourth week Mingsley could diagnose problems before Andrew played a note or without even looking at what Andrew was doing.

Through the process of learning how to be a teacher himself Mingsley learned the power of reflection. He learned first that the mind is quite capable of coordinating the body by simply having the goal in mind and, more importantly learned that he could tune his ears and eyes to distinguish between what is aesthetically pleasing flute playing and what isn’t. From there the next step was to formally introduce the LQCPR process.

While these five processes had been occurring while both learning and teaching, this very effectively (over time) helped Mingsley make sure he was covering all his bases when practicing alone or diagnosing his problems without his teachers help.

Although this proved to be a valuable tool to continually go back to throughout the following weeks, in retrospect it would have been better to introduce the five processes separately. Here is Andrew’s revised learning process lesson handouts.

Music as a Life Skill

MISSION:  The Music-In-Education program supports New England Conservatory’s core mission to prepare students as complete "artist-teacher-scholars" by enlisting studio, theory, history, technology, and music education faculty to prepare NEC students not only as better musicians, but as more effective teachers and missionaries for music in a wide range of educational contexts — skills that are now a part of virtually every musician’s career in music.  (Source:

As graduate musicians, much of our pedagogical experiences have been focus on our principle instruments.  For Kristen Abaquin and Andrew Gushiken, the mission of NEC’s MIE program applies perfectly.  This semester, Andrew, a trumpet player, taught a flute class, and Kristen, a classical singer, taught a recorder class.  Each posed their own challenges, nevertheless, for all parties involved, the results were positive. 

Kristen’s recorder class was a continuation from the Fall semester.  However, this semester, her focus was on understanding basic music theory and sight-reading.  This posed a problem for her younger student, Kayla, who was just learning the concept of fractions in school.  Thus, learning note values was a bit of a challenge.  Kristen then opted to spend a little time each week at the beginning of the semester not only teaching values, but math as well.  At the end of the semester, Kayla was just beginning to learn about fractions in school and said that she was proud because she knew about them already, because of what we learned in recorder classes!


Since Mingsley had been in the Chinatown Band program as well as studying piano privately, Andrew decided he would best benefit from using music as a means by which to cultivate self-discipline, patience, and above all the ability to be your own best teacher. Art, after all is derived from the latin ars which is used to convey the idea of skill or craftsmanship.

Mingsley has a wide variety of interests, and from what his mother says, he is quite skilled at sports and in the classroom. He doesn’t, however, always have the concentration to get things done in a timely manner. Once Mingsley caught on to the whole reflection process as a means for teaching yourself, it was on to learning to be more efficient. Mingsley best understood the concept of efficiency when faced with the choices of dilly-dallying and a take a while to do his homework or concentrating in order to finish his homework and play soccer with the extra time he saved!

With that in mind, Andrew presented practice techniques so Mingsley could spend more time playing soccer and less time playing wrong notes.

Again, Andrew realized that more focused, efficient learning would occur if each method were taught separately. Also, a more focused unit plan would allow for other application of these techniques, academic or otherwise. As such, here are the revised worksheets.

© 2022 New England Conservatory