Teaching Programming to Kids


9132130It has long been established that there is a link between music and programming skills.  My educational background was primarily music, from playing ‘by ear’ as a toddler, the dreaded piano lessons, gigging as a church musician, playing rock-in-roll keyboard god, to playing accompanist to some very good singers.

I discovered programming quite by accident.  I was holding down a job as a night operator at a local hospital when one late night a programmer asked me to make a change to his program that was causing production issues.  I was instantaneously hooked and immediately grasped the correlation between music and coding.

I immediately combined my two passions and built a music synthesizer, hand-wiring the circuit-boards and hand-coding assembler into the CPU to talk the magic new language of MIDI.  Music, like programming, requires visual comprehension, interpretation and execution.  If you’re a musician you can program.  And, vice-versa!

So, what does this mean to the shortage of programmers today.  Well, everyone has figured out how to recruit music-majors in colleges and how to recognize aptitude for programming.


How about teaching?  I contend that we are teaching children technology skills MUCH TOO LATE!
Our kids are learning how to read music and play instruments at an early age, so why aren’t we teaching them how to code?Is it because we believe that they must reach a level of math proficiency before they can engage in coding?  Nonsense!  Is it because there is a lack of teachers that can teach early childhood development?  Probably.  But it really does start with the basic acceptance of computer programming as an important skill to be learned at an early age and changing curriculum in grade-schools.

I am a proficient pianist because I started at an early age and developed a passion that’s as natural as breathing to me.  I became a proficient programmer because I was able to leverage my musical abilities across the disciplines.  I became prolific at both because of the 10,000 hour rule, I coded, I played, I coded computers to play.  I looked at programming apps and song-writing as a creative outlet, and still do.   I probably will keel over some day at either a piano or computer keyboard.

Back to education.  I am involved in several teaching initiatives and am frustrated by the resistance I get when trying to introduce programming in the same light as music education.  There have been many attempts to cross this chasm, but there has been limited success.  If you search on ‘programming for kids‘, you’ll find many classes and products designed to help kids.  My favorite is FIRST Lego League, but this still doesn’t teach what I’m looking for: HARDCORE CODING for KIDS.

Well, this is where I’m asking for feedback.  I am looking for success stories that will help me with my mission.   Please comment or send me an e-mail.  I’d love to talk to you!