Music Made Together

Queen mary university of london festival of the communities 2017

As a follow up from the day here is a series of resources on computer programming (coding) and media/music apps and platforms:

  • Coding for kids (4-12 years old)
  • Coding for young adults (13+ years old)
  • Media technology resources and links
  • Accessible apps for learning, making and performing music
  • Links to my research

Coding for kids

Apps and games

Daisy the Dinosaur is a free iPad app that helps kids as young as 4 learn the basic concepts behind coding. Move the Turtle is also a free iPad app aimed at young children aged 9 to 11, move the Turtle teaches kids critical thinking. Robot Turtles is a board game alternative to computer games and apps for ages 4 and up that brings programming to life; just get the turtle to the matching coloured jewel on the board. For ages 9-11, Hopscotch is a free-to-download iPad app that uses video tutorials to help kids program games. Kids can then play one games created with the app. Also here is a external link to a list of the best apps and websites for learning programming and coding. All of the reviews on the site are by teachers, and they’re based on ease of use, quality, and engagement, among other criteria.

Resources for parents

Resources for Parents From MIT Media Lab’s Scratch Team: Scratch is one of the most popular coding tools for kids, and it’s designed to help students with little to no coding experience dive headfirst into programming. Essentially, the software lets students create animations and stories with building blocks that mimic the structure of computer code. Luckily, the team behind the software has made it easy for beginners. There’s a wonderful web-based beginners’ guide that will help students get started, or you can download a PDF version. There is also a great talk by one of the scratch team describing their work, and how coding is a gateway to broader learning. “When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. And it’s the same thing with coding: If you learn to code, you can code to learn,” he says. Learning to code means learning how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And these skills are applicable to any profession — as well as to expressing yourself in your personal life, too.

Tynker’s Hour of Code Free Activities: Tynker is a fun, intuitive suite of games that make it easy for kids to learn basic “computational thinking and programming skills.” Their Hour of Code feature is a great starting point for jumping into all that the site has to offer. Plus, be sure to check out the Parents section for ideas and tips to get started.

Computing Lessons on Khan Academy: Khan Academy’s self-paced courses introduce a number of fascinating coding concepts to kids. From learning the basics of computer programming and animation, to more complex computer science subjects, these lessons are the perfect jumping off point for curious students. When you’re ready to get started, check out: Teaching Kids Programming with Khan Academy by Patrick Reagan.

Coding for young adults

Hour Of Code is designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. Closer to home is the QMUL initiative CS4FN (computer science for fun), the website and magazine highlights research and activities all about Computer Science. Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses—including Introduction to Computer Science—available online for free. If college courses seem a little slow, consider Code Racer, a “multi-player live coding game.” Newbies can learn to build a website using HTML and CSS, while the more experienced can test their adeptness at coding. This can be followed up by Codecademy, where you can take lessons on writing simple commands in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, Python and Ruby. Code School offers online courses in a wide range of programming languages, design and web tools. Similarly, Treehouse provides online video courses and exercises to help you learn technology skills.

Made with Code is Google’s initiative to help with the gender gap that exists in science and technology. It features a number of online resources that are easy to follow and target a range of experience levels. Plus, there are even more tutorials in the Resources section with new offerings released periodically. Another programs geared toward females who want to code, Girl Develop It is an international nonprofit that provides mentorship and instruction. “We are committed to making sure women of all ages, races, education levels, income, and upbringing can build confidence in their skill set to develop web and mobile applications,” their website reads. “By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.”

Media technology resources and links

Processing: Great, easy to learn coding environment with loads of clear examples and tutorials. One of my favourites.

Bela: New hardware prototyping ‘kid on the block’ that packs a serious punch, also made here at QMUL by the Augmented Instruments Lab. Selling itself as a embedded platform for ultra-low latency audio and sensor processing, but its so much more than that.

Arduino: The quintessential ‘hardware prototyping’ / ‘creative coding’ technology with a massive online community that can answer all things electronics and coding related.

Tidal: Making music with code! Tough initial setup but well worth a look.

Music hackspace: London based community for innovators and hobbyists passionate about music technology and sound art. Organises regular DIY workshops and events.

Reaper: digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. The product is free to download.

Apps for learning, making and performing music

Better Ears: Ear Training and Music Theory for Mac, iOS and Android. Better Ears helps you grow your musical skills and enhance your hearing capabilities. There are already 13 different exercises included, starting from interval recognition all the way to chord progressions – perfect for beginners and music-masters alike!

Notezilla is a resource for learning sheet music while listening to a recording. As the music plays, the notes are played through on the screen, illustrated through a sheet music presentation. This is a great app for students learning to read music as it provides the option for slowing down the tempo for learners to practice and fully understand the piece as written.

Singing Fingers lets you fingerpaint with sound. Just touch the screen while you make a sound, and colourful paint appears. Touch the paint to play back the sound again!

Figure is a great app that specializes in creating sound loops and music. Keying in on the patterns made from repetition in music, users have access to various instrument sounds and can create multiple patterns to produce new music. The basic elements of song structure, rhythm and key changes make this an elemental app for beginners and provide ways for composers to learn different arrangement styles. Recordings and arrangements can be exported to iTunes or Soundcloud.


For an extensive list of music apps and info on maing music head over Heart and Soul Soundlab website and go to the Get Making Music page, this easy to understand resource has great sections depending on what you want to do: play drums, play synths, compose DJ, or sing.

My research

Polyadic: The device on show at the festival of the communities was Polyadic, the development of that work is still under continual progress and the best place to find info is on the main blog page.

Collaborative music technology research: A page describing design activities and findings from engaging with professional musicians and technologists in the creation of collaborative technologies for music making.

Virtual reality music interfaces: Objects VR was a music interface and VR experience to explore how people interact and engage with VR and music interaction focussing on initial playful experiences and forming of meaning.

If you have any specific questions that arose from the day or from engaging with these resources, please feel free to get in touch with me on the following form: