Douglas Edwards

Research Associate @ Georgia Institute of Technology

Presentation Title: Teaching Computer Science through Music: an Introduction to EarSketch

Abstract: EarSketch is a free and online platform to teach introduction to Computer Science through music. It’s designed for High School teaching (and aligned with the AP CSP standards) but has been used in late elementary up to undergraduate classes. The languages used are Python and JavaScript, and the curriculum goes over computing concepts such as variables, functions, loops and conditionals with the help of corresponding musical concepts. When coding with EarSketch, students select loops for the 4,000-sound library and place them in a Digital Audio Workstation. They can also add effects, beats, structure their music in section, add random elements and much more. Most of the sounds are from popular genres such as Dubstep, Hip Hop and EDM. The authenticity and creativity of EarSketch have been shown to increase student engagement and desire to pursue computer science with particularly noticeable improvements for female students, often underrepresented in Computer Science. In the workshop, we will describe of the basic elements of EarSketch: the curriculum, the teacher materials, the sound library, the code editor, and the digital audio workstation. Then we will start the hands-on session: go over a selection of chapters and let the participants code their first music! This will be an introduction to the interface, core EarSketch functions, variables, looping, strings and conditionals. Participants will have the choice between coding in Python or JavaScript. For educators with younger students, we will also show the blocks mode, which allows for an introduction to Computer Science for late Elementary and Middle School students. We will also demonstrate features like sharing, downloading songs, collaboration, etc. In conclusion, we will address questions about how to implement EarSketch in the classroom. To have a first look at EarSketch, you can visit our website: