Q&A with the Parents of a Young Superstar Producer

Teenage Beats by DJ HEATHBARZ

4:30pm – 5:00pm | Atrium

Thirteen-year-old DJ HEATHBARZ spins an opening set. Heath has been developing his skills at Mmmmaven, a Cambridge-based music education organization and event producer.

For years, our music technology lab has proudly assisted many young minds and young producers in and around greater Boston.

Occasionally, some break out into the larger world. For example, here’s GalaxZ and Rubix via Neighbor Media.

DJ HEARTHBARZ (!!) is just the latest, playing Peabody Essex Museum this Sunday as a part of their Little Voices, Big Ideas event.

We were able to speak with the parental units of DJ Hearthbarz about his time inside our lab and what it meant to him….

In your opinion as parents, how important is music in Heath’s education?
Music, like all arts, is fundamental. There is a lot of research of the connection of music with math and other disciplines, and we feel that music augments Heath’s overall persona, even beyond education.

It makes him a fuller, more interesting person 🙂

Does music technology have a place in STEAM and how so?

We were struck by how fantastic the incorporation of “A” in STEAM brought deeper meaning by integrating arts with technology, and music technology is a tangible example.

Thank YOU @Kenji7955! 🙂 “Thank you #mmmmaven for a wonderful digital music program that has been immensely stimulating for my younger daughter! Also gave me several days to enjoy #boston, which I hadn’t done in many years.”

Did or does Heath also have traditional music lessons? How did or do they combine with music technology lessons?

Heath took piano lessons from age 5-8 and guitar at age 12. While he has always had a natural “ear” for music and has always enjoyed it, he didn’t “love” either instrument and getting him to practice was a chore.

In contrast, his attraction to music technology was magnetic and we love to see him finally marrying some of what we recognized as some raw ability into some focused efforts.

#BBGBoston is back this Fall at @MMMMAVEN! Classes start September 24th at 4pm. 🌸 If you are or know anyone interested in learning music production and beat making skills, go to our website or email polina@mmmmaven.com

Is there one particular thing he latched onto or enjoyed the most?

Since setting foot in Mmmmaven, he was finally able to realize his true interest and the enthusiasm was instant. We were thrilled he found something creative that he truly enjoys and are fully supportive with this as his form of expression.

Do you have any advice for parents out there who might be looking for music lessons or other creative outlets for their child?

Exposure, exposure, exposure! While at first we started Heath on more traditional paths, put him in musical theater camps, taken him to multiple shows

It wasn’t until music technology crossed his path that he is finally able to embrace what he loves.

We knew he was interested in “DJing” and found the Mmmmaven camp hoping to ignite the spark, and we are thrilled that it did!

Have a young one who wants to dive into #DigitalMusic? Schedule your free tour:

[bookly-form category_id=”0″ service_id=”2″ hide=”categories”]

Learning to DJ Now Qualifies for Secondary Education in the UK

Via Mixmag: Learning to DJ is now considered part of secondary education and counts toward a student’s General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in the UK.

According to the BBC, the new qualification is now possible due to turntables, CDJs and other DJ gear now being recognized as formal instruments by examination boards.

The whole mission of the movement (featuring Future DJs), is to turn kids onto music via DJing and DJ culture. Watch this:

We do the same thing every summer! Our Beat Academy Immersive Summer Youth Program lights up the eyes of many kids with a new love of music.

Exclusive Mass Realty Profile


Thanks a ton to Mass Realty for shining a light on what we do here via an interview with co-founder and Executive Director David Day.


We believe that technology and music not only go together, but that they belong together. As when the harpsichord evolved into the piano, and the guitar to the electric guitar, music has always been improved with the use of technology.


We’re interested in anyone who has a passion for music: from the elder statesmen folk artist, to the young person just learning what music is all about–even the term “electronic music” is outdated to us.

Mass Realty is one of the top sites for Cambridge, MA Real Estate. Read the full interview–with plenty more insights–here: Mmmmaven DJ School Teaches The Tricks of the Mix.

Stay in the loop!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

(###) ###-####

Email Format

How To Turn Any Sound into an Electronic Instrument in Ableton Live

What would you say if I told you that you can turn a bird noise into an electronic instrument?

Would you believe me? Well…you probably should, because I’m about to show you how! BOOM!

mmmmaven, music production, boston dj school, ableton live, sampling

In this short how to I will show you how to turn a sound into an instrument using Ableton’s built in software sampler called, Simpler. Simpler is a very powerful sampler that you can use to get super creative with your productions when sampling audio. Tired of using preset sounds? Searching through a bank for something boring that somebody’s already used? This tutorial will show you how to make a totally original sounding instrument without having to synthesize it using a program outside of Ableton Live.

For this example we are going to use one of my favorite sounds…a bird squawking. SO. First thing’s first, select some sample material. NOTE: this does not have to be a bird noise, I’m just using one to demonstrate for this tutorial. So find some recorded sound that you wanna use. Make sure your sound is a .wav file before you put it into Ableton. Mine is not, so I’ll use itunes to re-import it as a .wav file. Wav files are not only Ableton compatible, but they are of a higher sound quality.

I have chosen a peacock squawk as my sample material. Heads up, it’s pretty loud.

Go find your browser/library on the left of Ableton Live and select the Instruments tab. Within the instruments tab, find an instrument called “Simpler.” Simpler is one of a couple samplers that’s offered with Ableton Live. You may have guessed this by the name, but it’s pretty simple to use. So double click on the Simpler to make a Simpler track. You should see the Simpler instrument show up on the bottom left of your screen.

simpler, ableton live, mmmmaven, music production, ableton live

Now, find your sample and get it ready to drop. You can see the “Drop Sample Here” space on the top of the Simpler. Now drag and drop the sample in (either from your browser or your desktop, both work).!

mmmmaven, music production, ableton live, boston dj school

Now you can see the sample, but it’s too long right now, and it isn’t starting where I want it to. You can play the sample on your keyboard by pressing the middle row of letter keys (A-L). Make sure the circular dot at the bottom of a track button is red! And you should be hearing your sample played on different keys as you press them.

mmmmaven, music production, boston dj school, ableton live

Note the two grey areas on the sides of the sample. You can click and drag on those arrows to change the start and endpoints of the sample. So try that out and attempt to find an area of the sample that you’d like to use.

mmmmaven, music production, ableton live

mmmmaven, boston dj school, music production, ableton live

Note that the green area is the area of your sample that will play, and the black area will not play. If you want to get a closer look at where your sample is playing, you can zoom in easily by clicking on the sample (a magnifying glass icon should appear) then dragging downwards (with your mouse) to zoom in or upwards to zoom out. You can select whatever size area you want, but personally to try and capture a more smooth and sustaining sound I will grab two cycles (waveform) of the sound. If you zoom in far enough on the sample you will see what we call a waveform clearly. Put simply this is the sound at its most basic level, expressed in the shape of a wave. There are different waveforms that synthesizers and electronic instruments use to create sound. Some of the most recognizable ones being a sine wave, a square wave, and a sawtooth wave. This is a sample we found, so the wave shape is one specifically original to the sound.  So I will grab 2 cycles of the wave.

mmmmaven, music production, ableton live, boston dj school, simpler, sampler

Now my sample is loaded up and honed in on the length that I want. I’ll be making an synth organ type sound out of this sample. To make this sound I want to make sure that my “Loop” button is on, that way the sound will loop and sustain like an organ would. You can see below that I didn’t change that many settings to design this sound, and considering it only took me a few minutes to make from start to finish, it sounds pretty good so far! From here on out get creative with the settings in Simpler. Just try out different buttons and settings to find out what they do, have a little fun experimenting and see what you come up with. I made some changes by adding Portamento to the sound, adding voices, velocity, spread, and resonance. These are all typical parameters on synthesizers, which is cool! because this is a sampler! Ableton gives you a lot of creative options in a pretty small and easy to use sampler.

music production, ableton live, mmmmaven, boston dj school

The last thing I’ll do just to round out the sound is to add a couple effects. If you want to add effects go back to your browser and find the Audio Effects tab. There are a lot of different effects to play around with, but for this sound I’ll just add some delay, some subtle stereo panning, and a little EQing. If these effects are foreign to you, don’t worry, effects can be confusing to use and difficult to understand. Here is a link to help you wrap your head around them, from our friends at Ableton.

mmmmaven, music production. boston dj school, ableton live, simpler

Now I wrote a few chords just so you could hear the sound in a harmonic context. You can obviously compose whatever you’d like though! Below is the original sample, then the sample looped, then edited using Simpler, and then with effects.

Original Sample Segment:

Looped Sample (+chords):

Edited w/ Simpler:

W/ effects:

And HERE, lastly, is it used in the context of an arrangement.

Put simply, the purpose of this “how to” was to show you how to drag and drop a sample into Simpler, to loop it properly, and get it sounding like an electronic instrument…rather than a bird squawking (in my case). Hopefully you have made something totally original out of your sound! If you want to learn how to use your sound in a full song and make some arrangements and tunes that you’re super proud of, come take Music Production with Ableton classes at MMMMAVEN! We’ll teach you all the skills you need to get producing music with Ableton Live! As always, comment with questions! Cheers,


Drop us a line below to inquire about classes!

Oops! We could not locate your form.