4-day school project week with live coding in front of audience

Hi everyone

I stumbled over Sonic Pi about 8 moths ago. As we were planning do to do a project week in our school with a school festival at the end of the week, I decided to lead a group to live code in front of audience. Even though I did not have the possibility to go real deep into Sonic Pi coding as a personal preparation, it turned out to be a great project. What I mainly did is working through the tutorial.

This week was a real success. For me, my students and for the visitors. So here are my most important elements for leading students to live code in front of audience. I hope they might help and encourage someone else.

  • Let the students have one computer per person.

  • Get a powerful amp and loudspeaker ready with a long cable to reach all individual computers in your classroom so you can really make all those cool sounds heard.

  • Give short, attractive inputs and make students practise a lot.

  • Let them regulary present their results to each other as peer-inspiration.

  • Don’t think students should work with Sonic Pi like you personally would. Be open for their individual approaches.

  • If you cannot answer their questions: refer them to the tutorial.

  • Make them prepare and practise a live coding session of one minute up to several minutes. Practise well the workflow of getting the code into the right buffer if your presentation computer is a different one than the one for the preparations.

  • Give them criteria for their live coding, like: > Visible action on the beamer > individual sound elements > development in the program. Let them regulary give and have feedback on these criteria points while they are developing their session.

  • Promote to use own sample sounds from music they like. All best products of our project contain sound snipplets the students downloaded from Youtube and cut out with Audacitiy.

  • Make your beamer projection as large as possible!

  • Before your kids live code in front of audience: spend several minutes explaining your audience why we think coding is important for kids. And make a well prepared introduction to the workflow of coding sound (especially working with live loops) so the audiance can try to understand what they see on the beamer.

In this Youtube-Playlist are the best 5 performances from 15 students. They are in grade 8 or 9 and had been working 2.5 days to get to know Sonic Pi and prepare for their live coding.

The other 10 live codings were definitely less attractive and had less individual caracter. Some of them were more of a “series of showing what can be done with live loops”. However, people enjoyed it if it wasn’t too long. Most of all their parents :wink:

I was only able to handle 15 students as a I had the support of 2 assistants knowing SonicPi. As an individual teacher I wouldn’t recommend more than 5 - 7 students/kids for such a project.

Happy coding!



Hi @swissmorgy,

a great project! And a great outcome. Thanks for this valuable list of experiences for future projects!


Thanks for the post, swissmorgy!
It was fascinating to see the students working interdisciplinary; music and computer science. About one day, after the students were fine with writing basic code, the music aspects stepped into the foreground. The biggest handicap was writing the code fast enough. That’s what Sam is saying all the time. Practice! So we decided to play around with uncommenting code-parts, put some hashtags. With this very simple recipe, the students were able to concentrate themselves to the musical process. Still it’s hard if you have about 100 Lines of code and feeling nervous :wink: So practicing was the last part before the gig.
All of the 15 students were absolutely absorbed for 4 days! This is the power of Sonic Pi! Thanks Sam!