Dear NAfME: Can I Teach My Students Coding Through Music?

Dear NAfME,

The school library media specialist has approached me about collaborating on a unit involving coding (either on PC or iPad) and music. We are going to test run this with one 7th gr and one 8th gr GM class. Has anyone done this before? Ideas/resources? I am very techy, but have no experience with coding (other than playing around with Scratch for a grad class a few years back).




 Photo via Hootsuite


Answers from Music Educators:


“This sounds very interesting, I haven’t done a similar project, but would love to do something like this. I would guess the simplest would be to have a code-to-music note process. There’s a plugin on Google docs that allows you to put music notation into the document using a coded entry process.” -Rod


Here are some Ed Tech Ideas: Tech Integration for Busy Teachers


“The music notation app is great, and it’s great for teaching syntax, but I would hardly call it coding. Coding is all about breaking a complex task into simple steps:

Set pen color = blue
Set count = 0
While count<360{
Draw forward 1
Angle +=1
Next count

I just drew a blue circle.” –Stephen


“That being said, writing music is not dissimilar from coding. We break down the creating of a work if art into very minute steps which are meant to be interpreted as closely as possible by the performer.” -Stephen


 “One of my robotics students coded our EV3 to play “what does the fox say?” Composing a piece of music is very much the musical equivalent of coding since the idea is to tell the performer exactly what note to play, for how long, and when to play it.”  –Tracy


“We don’t teach music in school to make everyone a concert violinist,” says Clive Beale, director of educational development at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a nonprofit organization based near Cambridge, England that promotes computer studies in schools. “We’re not trying to make everyone a computer scientist, but what we’re saying is, ‘this is how these things work, it’s good for everyone to understand the basics of how these things work. And by the way, you might be really good at it.”

Read full article.






YouTube Video of a 4th grader coding 4th grade maker Twinkle Twinkle using Scratch


Creating music in classrooms using code teaches ‘risk-taking’ in next generation

New educational robot helps kids learn coding through music

Let it code! Disney’s ‘Frozen’ teams with to inspire young programmers


 YouTube Video of a 5th grader designing a Simon melody and pitch matching game. Designed with MaKey MaKey and coded with Scratch.


Learn about the Global Movement ‘Hour of Code’

15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer)

7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills

Your Five Year Old Can Learn To Code With An IPad App

5 Good iPad Apps to Teach Kids Programming



Do you have any additional recommendations? Share them with us in the comment section below!

 Kristen Rencher. December 18, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (