Georgia Tech’s EarSketch Uses Music To Teach Students Coding

February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Pleased to see that my colleagues are getting recognition for their cool work.

The White House recognized Georgia Tech last Monday for a coding program that uses music to teach code. It was recognized as part of its national initiatives for Computer Science Education Week.EarSketch is a free online tool that uses music to teach the programming languages of Python and JavaScript.Georgia Tech professors plan to expand the program to more than 250 middle and high schools nationwide next year.

Source: Georgia Tech’s EarSketch Uses Music To Teach Students Coding | WABE 90.1 FM

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alanone1  |  February 10, 2017 at 8:31 am

    I’m going to read the few papers that are available (some of the ones they post are unreachable, and others require payment) before writing a careful comment.

    But as a former professional musician and for many more years an “avid amateur”, let me pose a question: What if this approach were taken with -writing- instead of -music- ? i.e. the “samples” are sentences and paragraphs of words written by others that are pasted together in various ways to create “compositions”. These would be mostly incoherent and sometimes amusing. There would be some art in what the “composers” do, but what kind of art is it? A kind of collage? It does have something in common with pasting in code from stackexhange …

    And given that academia in general doesn’t want students to hand in work that is pasted up from parts done by others, what does academia think about this?

    The part I’m not sure about because I haven’t read the papers yet is what kinds of expression are available. My complaint with “music in LOGO” was that it quite confused -music- with -notation for music-, and the system essentially “played the notation”.

    This is not even close to the intent of music notation (nor is the idea of just reading the individual words in a play onstage). This kind of notation is intended to be “hints” and “guides” for coming up with performances that have a lot of feeling and expression in them supplied by the performer.

    MIDI was done badly because the people who did it had the same confusion — nonetheless it became a standard and required an enormous amount of kludgery after the fact to and in expression (parallel “beat tracks” to get away from metronomic playing, etc. (another confusion (that of “beats” with “pulse”)).

    The use of metronomic drum machines, general lack of dynamics, weak harmonic ideas, etc., in pop music desensitizes the public to expressive qualities.

    An interesting fact to ponder is that hardly any hits in pop music over 60 years or so have been instrumentals. The public seems to require the words. And much of the recent “almost only words” “maybe not really -music-” is essentially talking. (Nothing wrong with talking but there are separate words for -poetry- and -music-.

    Musicians wonder about this — perhaps the general public is not hearing a lot of -music- when it is there, and is thus somewhat indifferent to whether there is any there or not.

    One could imagine a “score player” in which a lot of expression could be indicated. Sibelius allowed some a few years ago — but weakly — and I haven’t looked recently. If you are going to get a machine to play a composition you need to be able to advise the machine how to do it far beyond the simple note events.

    One of the most interesting examples of a deep musical process (for everyone whether trained musicians or with none) is the Arthur Hull “Drum Circle” experiences. This gets everyone doing the real thing, right away, deeply, and has everything in chamber music — including counterpoint, polyrhythms, etc. the whole deal except pitch in the initial experiences. It’s quite remarkable and hugely musical and artistic.

  • […] Magerko and Jason Freeman will present on EarSketch, which I just blogged about here. They are also presenting on Creativity in Authentic STEAM Education with EarSketch on Friday […]


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