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Unique partnership sees Victoria students create music through computer code

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In a hallway at South Park Elementary School in Victoria on Thursday, you could hear the sound of music coming from a classroom. The music was two months in the making.

“I am really proud,” said Cohen Monkman, a South Park Elementary School student.

“It was really fun,” said Marlo Pace, another student. “It was a different experience.”

Grade 4 and 5 students have been learning to code.

“We needed to introduce the students to a lot of the basics of how you write code and how a computer can only do exactly the things that you tell it to do,” said Daniel Brandes, artistic director for the school of music technology and creativity at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

Instead of using conventional instruments, the class is creating music through technology.

“They’re learning about synthesis, panning, balance and creating envelopes,” said Brandes.

Approximately $15,000 in funding from the Telus Friendly Future Foundation was instrumental in providing students and the conservatory with the tools necessary to participate in the class, according to the foundation.

Cohen says the whole process was quite complicated but in the end worth it.

“I think it sounds pretty good,” said Cohen.

The school partnered with the Victoria Conservatory of Music using coding software called Sonic Pi.

“You can play it like a live instrument,” said Brandes.

“It seems so complicated, yet it’s simple,” said Willow Taves, a South Park Elementary School student. “It’s just small little steps.”

Willow and Marlo created their piece called "Haunted Dreams."

“We’re trying to make the code a bit creepy,” said Willow.

The results were all unique in their own way.

“You’re going to hear beeps and boops,” said Brandes.

For Brandes, it is not so much about creating chart-topping music.

“That’s about personal taste and that’s subjective and that’s not terribly interesting to me,” said Brandes.

Instead, this is about the process. “Were the students engaged in what they were making?” said Brandes. “Did they make something that they feel genuinely excited about?”

The students say yes and now they are hooked.

“I think I’m going to continue doing this, get better and improve,” said Cohen.

“It was amazing,” said Marlo.

“It was really cool to interact with the computer and build a really cool piece of music that we get to show our classmates,” said Willow.

All while being engaged, learning to code and being creative.

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