David Grohl on inverting the pedagogy

June Kinoshita, Executive Director

Okay, so the Foo Fighters’ frontman didn’t exactly say “inverting the pedagogy,” but in an interview with the New Yorker, he shares a story that perfectly illustrates this core idea. As a kid, he was riding in the car when Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” came on the radio. David and his mom sang along. When it came to the chorus, he took the Mick Jagger part while his mother took the Carly Simon part… 

“And so we break off in harmony and it was in that moment that I realized and understood that two different notes form a chord,” he recalls. “I’m like wait a second. Hold on a second. And then the kick drum does that, and then the snare drum does that, and then, so I started listening to music not just as a sound, I was listening to music and the patterns.”

This is exactly the kind of ephiphany that deeply engages a kid and draws them into a life-long passion for music. It is moments like this that Hyperscore makes possible, whether it’s by a child noodling with the software or being guided by a teacher who understands how to give the child space to discover the magic.

We love having conversations about teaching to compose with Hyperscore. Come hang out with us at our monthly Zoom Office Hours!

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Transforming lives through music

by June Kinoshita

At New Harmony Line we are dedicated to transforming lives through music. Whether you are young or old, tapping into your inner composer and expressing yourself through music is not only a lot of fun, but we believe it can enhance your life in many ways.

Last month, our co-founder, Tod Machover, had the opportunity to speak at the global Wellbeing Summit in Bilbao and present some of his current thinking about the role that creativity, arts, and technology play in promoting human health and well-being.

In this video of his talk, Machover cover some highlights in his Media Lab group’s work in music and health, and also in community building through collaborative music projects. The video ends with a glimpse of the newest City Symphony project on the theme of healthy communities that they are planning for Bilbao. You’ll see a snippet by a 10-year-old Hyperscore composer and hear how a couple of Machover’s Media Lab graduate students took his idea and fleshed it out. Hope you enjoy it.

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Invitamos a los jóvenes de Bilbao (cualquier persona menor de 18 años) a crear nueva música que inspire, a “escuchar un mundo” donde el bienestar se nutre, se comparte y está disponible para todos. Estas composiciones, creadas con el software Hyperscore desarrollado en el MIT Media Lab, utilizan gestos visuales para crear contribuciones musicales únicas. Los participantes pueden tener algo de experiencia musical, pero no se requieren habilidades musicales en absoluto: solo necesita poder seleccionar entre varias opciones de dibujo en la pantalla y pensar creativamente. ¡SOIS TODOS BIENVENIDOS!

La aplicación web Hyperscore se puede utilizar en el colegio o en casa, en cualquier momento y en cualquier lugar. El trabajo creativo se apoyará en línea a través de tutorías y comunicación con los diseñadores de Hyperscore en Boston, EE. UU., así como con mentores de proyectos locales en Bilbao.

Cualquier persona interesada en unirse a este proyecto está invitada a unirse a una llamada el 25 de abril a las 6:30 p.m. Esta será una oportunidad para escuchar más sobre el proyecto y aprender a usar Hyperscore. Para registrarse en esta sesión, debe enviar un correo electrónico a Guillermo Zavala o llamar al 606 27 57 45. Guillermo enviará un enlace de zoom antes de la llamada.

Las composiciones enviadas antes del 14 de mayo de 2022 serán consideradas para su presentación durante el Wellbeing Summit en Bilbao del 31 de mayo al 3 de junio de 2022. Todas las entregas formarán parte del punto de partida de BILBAO SYMPHONY, compuesta por Tod Machover, e interpretada en Bilbao en 2024.

Este programa es parte de THE WELLBEING PROJECT. ¡Únete a nosotros para explorar cómo podría sonar una “comunidad de bienestar” usando una de las mejores plataformas de software de música del mundo!

Sonic Wellbeing through Hyperscore


We invite young people in Bilbao (anyone under 18) to create inspiring new music, to “hear a world” where wellbeing is nurtured, shared and available to all. These compositions – created using Hyperscore software developed at the MIT Media Lab – use digital visual gestures to create unique musical contributions. Participants could have some musical experience, but absolutely no musical skills are required – you just need to draw, to listen, and to think creatively. EVERYONE IS WELCOME!

The Hyperscore web application can be used in school or at home, anytime and anywhere. Creative work will be supported online through mentoring and communication with the Hyperscore designers in Boston, USA as well as local project mentors in Bilbao. 

We will be scheduling a Zoom meeting on April 25, 18:30 pm local time for anyone who is interested in participating. This will be a chance to hear more about the project and learn to use Hyperscore. To register for this session, send an email to Guillermo Zavala or call/text 606 27 57 45. Guillermo will send a zoom link before the call.

Compositions submitted by May 14, 2022, will be considered for presentation during the Wellbeing Summit in Bilbao from May 31-June 3, 2022. All submissions will form part of the starting point for a BILBAO SYMPHONY, composed by Tod Machover, and performed in Bilbao in 2024. 

This project is part of the WELLBEING PROJECT – please join us to explore what a “community of wellbeing” might sound like using one of the world’s coolest music software platforms! 


Listen to the children

by June Kinoshita, Executive Director, New Harmony Line

I’ve been reading the wonderful New York Times opinion series by guitarist and social activist Tom Morello, and his post “How I Taught My Son How to Shred Like Crazy” really landed for me. Morello, an esteemed rock guitarists known to legions of fans for his stints with Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, and as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s touring E Street Band, recounts how a guitar teacher almost derailed his musical dreams when he was 13 years old. Eager to master guitar licks from Led Zeppelin and Kiss, he marched into his first guitar lesson only to be told he had to first learn to play scales. It was years before he returned to the guitar when he founded his first band.

I wonder how many millions of children have been steered away from music by similar “thou must master the basics first” mindsets. Of course, drilling scales, arpeggios, and chords into your muscle memory is essential for mastering an instrument. But if a child is on fire to learn a piece of music they love, or to explore making sounds that mean something to them, a great teacher will find a way to feed that flame.

Having learned this seminal lesson in his youth, Morello recounts how he cautiously approached his 9-year-old son, Roman, early during the pandemic lockdown about learning “Stairway to Heaven,” and soon discovered he had a shredding prodigy on his hands. Roman ended up collaborating with Nandi Bushnell, the British-Zulu drumming phenom. (I first learned about Nandi through my fangirling of David Grohl; watch their epic drum battle). Here’s their song, a call to arms for the world to take action against climate change. This resonates so much with us because the driving motivation behind Hyperscore and everything we do is to empower kids to find their voice. They have a lot to say. Watch:


Meet the team: Sep Kamvar

Board member Sep Kamvar is a computer scientist, artist, and entrepreneur.  He has been a professor at MIT and Stanford, and a co-founder of Wildflower Schools (a network of Montessori microschools), Mosaic Building Group (an AI-based residential construction company), and Celo (a mobile-based global payments platform for cryptocurrencies).  Sep’s main contributions to computer science have been at the intersection of computer science and mathematics, particularly in the fields of numerical linear algebra, peer-to-peer networks, and information retrieval. 

Sep is the author of three books and over 40 technical publications and patents, and his artwork has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens among others. Sep received his PhD in scientific computing and computational mathematics from Stanford University and an AB in chemistry from Princeton University. 


Meet the team: Alysia Lee

We’re thrilled to welcome Alysia Lee to the board of directors of New Harmony Line. Kennedy Center Citizen Artist, Alysia is the Founder and Artistic Director of Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG), the El Sistema-inspired, girl empowerment choral academy in Philadelphia, Camden, and Baltimore. Lee is the education program supervisor for Fine Arts Education for the Maryland State Department of Education across five arts disciplines: music, dance, visual art, theatre, and media arts. She is the President-Elect of the national service organization, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE).

Alysia is the series editor of Hal Leonard’s Exigence for Young Voices, the new choral series uplifting Black and Latino composers for young choir ensembles. Her piece ‘Say Her Name’ is published by Hal Leonard. Recent composition commissions include Baltimore Choral Arts, Portland Lesbian Choir, and GALA Choruses. Lee is a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, she is a Board member of Chorus America and the Advisory Board for ArtsEdSEL.


Meet the team: Cecilia Roudabush

Cecilia taught General and Adaptive Music K-12 in the Iowa City Community School District for 32 years. She has a master’s degree in music education specializing in music therapy and behavior disorders from the University of Iowa. She was honored by the ICCSD District Parent’s Organization in 2012, received the Achievement in Education Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education in 2014 and was the Iowa City Education Association’s Teacher of the Year in 2017. Cecilia piloted Hyperscore in 2003 and passionately taught the program until 2020.

When the nation went into lockdown in March of 2020, Cecilia reached out to New Harmony Line in desperation. Her music students could no longer share computers in their lab and she wanted to know if Hyperscore was available on the Web. The new version of Hyperscore wasn’t ready at the time, but she began to talk regularly with June and Peter. When Cecilia retired from teaching in the spring of 2021, she took on a new role, as Director of Education for New Harmony Line. She connected with educators to beta-test Hyperscore for the Web and is collecting feedback, evaluating students’ reactions, and using their input to add new features to the software and develop teaching materials. With her long experience teaching with Hyperscore in public schools, she is a great guide and collaborator for educators who wish to introduce Hyperscore to their classrooms.

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Kids build a musical bridge with Hyperscore

From our archives. This story about the 2012 “A to A: A World in Harmony” concert in Yerevan, Armenia, is a testament to the power of Hyperscore to foster powerful collaborations.

The opulent Armenian Opera Theater in the heart of Armenia’s capital Yerevan will reverberate with some truly fresh sounds on the evening of February 25, 2012, as two of Armenia’s elite musical ensembles dig into new pieces composed entirely by children from Armenia and the United States. The concert features the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and DOGMA, one of the country’s most popular rock bands. The event is co-sponsored by the LUYS Education Foundation and the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan to celebrate the embassy’s 20th anniversary.

Despite the composers’ youth – they range in age from 8 to 14 – their work is rich and rewarding to hear, thanks to the boost their musical imaginations received from Hyperscore, a music-creation software developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab by a team led by renowned composer Tod Machover. Hyperscore puts unprecedented composing power into the hands of people who long to express themselves musically, regardless of their formal training. More than that, Hyperscore turns out to be an exceptional tool for collaborative creativity. One of the pieces receiving its world premiere at the Yerevan event was jointly composed by children in Boston and Armenia.

Musical composition is usually imagined to spring from the minds of geniuses toiling in splendid isolation. But for the youngsters visiting the Media Lab earlier this month, the composing process was more like a cyber paintball game. Color-coded splashes of melodies and beats popped up on a large flat-screen monitor as a half-dozen students from the Armenian Sisters’ Academy in Lexington, MA, traded ideas over a Skype connection with their counterparts in a classroom 8,700 kilometers away in Yerevan.

Under Machover’s deft direction, the students launched into creating their new piece by humming melodies and tapping out rhythms, which were notated using Hyperscore. The screen quickly filled up with melodic ideas, or ‘motifs’, and a percussion sequence. The kids then started assembling their composition. “Do you want the piece to start with a big explosion, or something quieter?” Machover asked. Something quiet, the kids agreed. A motif was selected and “drawn” onto the digital canvas. A second pensive motif was introduced, and then it was time to bring in some livelier motifs to wake things up.

“How do you tell a story through music? How could we keep this moving, keep it building?” Machover urged. The kids started piling on layers, made a motif swing high and swoop low, tried out various harmonic configurations… and they were out of time. In one hour, they had put together the first minute of their piece. After a few more sessions, they completed a short but complex and fascinating work which they titled “Frenzy of Friendship”, ready to be orchestrated and sent to the Armenian Phil for its world premiere.

“We usually think of music as belonging to a special elite who have unique powers to create it and share it,” Machover says. “Hearing these exciting new pieces by young people renews my conviction that anyone can create original, valuable music given the right tools, environment and encouragement, and that through music we can build friendships, share individual visions, and enhance life’s meaning.”

To Jacqueline Karaaslanian, Executive Director of the LUYS Education Foundation, this is a perfect example of harnessing technology to spur creativity and collaboration. The foundation was established by Armenia’s President Serjh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan to transform the nation by raising the quality of education and infusing the country’s youth with a “can do” attitude.

“Hyperscore wakes up the genius within children and instills in them a desire to better understand a whole universe of worlds they had not previously imagined or considered,” Karaaslanian explains. “When children know that their elders and professionals will play their music, they are empowered. This process is beyond encouraging words; it validates children as thinkers and creators.” And that, she says, is vital for any nation that expects to thrive in our rapidly changing and interconnected world.


Meet the team: Peter Torpey, PhD

Peter is an artist and engineer who explores the nexus of music, interface, interaction design, cognition, storytelling, and theater. He received his PhD in the Opera of the Future group at the MIT Media Lab and now works as an independent contractor providing services that span the possibilities of integrating technologies into live performance and artistic experience. These services include theatrical design, video production, media and graphic design, as well as web and software development.

The challenge of replicating the original Hyperscore software as a Web application fell to Peter. He not only completed this monumental project but has also added some cool color options, freshened up the design, and continues to add and refine features. What can we say? He is a magician of the highest order!


Meet the team: Betsy Corcoran

Betsy Corcoran, New Harmony Line board member, brings education’s best ideas to life. She heads Lede Ventures, which advises organizations at the intersection of technology and learning on the strategies and tactics for catalyzing innovation. She consults with C-level executives on how to foster vibrant teams that stress authenticity and transparency drawing on decades of experience in leading teams and in analyzing industry’s top leaders. In 2011, Betsy cofounded and served as CEO of EdSurge, an award-winning news and information hub for teachers, entrepreneurs and school leaders with a commitment to edtech. She was named a “Rock Star of Education.” In 2019, she negotiated its successful acquisition by ISTE, the International Society for Technology Education.

She writes regularly on the future of learning for sites including EdSurge and Protocol. Betsy is a well-known speaker and conference moderator as well as LinkedIn “Influencer.” She advises the Unboxing School Movement and the REMOTE Summit. She is a Fellow with the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program. Betsy served as Silicon Valley Bureau Chief for Forbes Media, helping establish its Midas List. She has received national recognition for her work as a journalist at organizations that include The Washington Post and Scientific American magazine. She has been a Fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has a B.A. in economics and math from Georgetown University.

Empower kids to tell their stories through music. Set their creativity free with your support!