The first class of the Evanston Public Library and Northwestern University’s new hybrid music education program, When Coded Beats Come Alive, is having an official showcase at the Evanston Township High School Fieldhouse on Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 p.m.
When Coded Beats Come Alive teaches 5th grade students how to code with Python and use the music composition program Tunepad, developed by NU professor Michael Horn. This collaboration is brand new, according to program organizer and instructor Ozivell Ecford, and this pilot run with the first class has proven successful at giving kids powerful digital tools to explore their artistic and musical expression and enrich their critical thinking skills.
Music, he said, has holistic benefits for students.
“It reinforces other parts of their education,” Ecford said. “They’re reading, thinking, doing math, learning about history — it’s all encompassing. There are so many studies that show that music and the arts help kids improve their academics all around.”
Kids are exposed to all different kinds of music and musicians, he said, and their coded creations take after many different genres — hip hop, electronica, experimental, and even cinematic score — reflecting a wide range of interests and influences in their creative lives. Some of the kids have experience with coding or music, and some don’t. Ecford said all that matters is how interested the student is in music and code.
“We tried to run the program in a way that no matter what a person’s experience level was with coding or music, it was accessible, fun and formative,” he said.
At the showcase, students will debut their musical creations, play games, and have the chance to win raffle prizes. A selection of student works will also be played by a live band, Ecford said. The idea is to reinforce the potential of what coding can make possible in the real world.
“Once the music goes from the laptop to the hands of professional musicians, it can take on a new identity, a new persona, a new life,” Ecford said.
The showcase is this Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Register for the event here.