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About Me


Welcome to Music Theory Shop! I'm so glad you're here.

My name is Malia and music is my life. It always has been ever since I started piano lessons at age 6, landed my first job as a restaurant pianist at age 14, piano accompanist at age 15, and continued to study classical piano, music theory, and pedagogy in grad school. I've always been in music education as an instructor and advocate, and I continue to educate myself because music is a life-long learning experience. I believe that music-making is an art form that grows and heals the soul while expanding the mind both intellectually and artistically. I am absolutely heartbroken when my college students tell me that they quit music lessons after a few years of lessons when they were kids. What a tragedy!! They always want to start back up in college and the majority decide to keep music-making a part of their lives.

I believe that music is a language that all humans should study. Music is, in fact, one of the original subjects of the Greek "quadrivium"-- four subjects that all students studied two and a half millennia ago: arithmetic, music, astrology, and geometry. It is my goal to help musicians enjoy the process, at any stage of learning, which is the toughest part of mastering a complex language or skill. Sometimes that takes a practical tool for the classroom like a special music notebook, and sometimes it takes a simple message on a t-shirt.

If music is part of one's identity and lifestyle, students are more apt to enjoy the steps of that journey. Remind them to celebrate the small wins, and reflect on the benchmark goals reached.

As with developing any challenging skill, if you can enjoy the process (or at least tolerate it!) then you are more likely to stay committed. Music students are ingrained with a strong and consistent work ethic because they are constantly working on weekly goals (preparing for weekly lessons) and longer term goals (music recitals, exams, competitions). The study of music is both right and left-brained (it's technical and artistic), and that's why kids that study a musical instrument tend perform better in's about habit-building, creating structure in their schedules, and learning to keep commitments to themselves. 

I began Music Theory Shop to encourage musicians, and celebrate music-making and music-lovers. When I'm not working at Music Theory Shop, I'm writing music, teaching music theory and piano, or playing with my boxer-bulldog, Cooper.

Malia is the author of "Music Theory Staff Paper," forthcoming by Hal Leonard, February 2019. She holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a B.A. and M.A. in Piano Performance from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Malia is a Lecturer in Music Theory and Piano at California State University, Channel Islands, and is a member of ASCAP, NARIP (National Association for Recording Industry Professionals), Alliance for Women Film Composers, Workshops in Music Theory Pedagogy, and is a Reader for the College Board AP Music Theory examinations. She is also the webmaster for the Hobie Memorial Foundation and helped realize the memorial statue of Hobie Alter in Dana Point, CA.

Malia lives in Pasadena, CA with her boxer-bulldog, Cooper.  

 All items at Music Theory Shop are made in the U.S.A.