[chuck-users] teaching with ChucK (was Windows XP ...)

Ge Wang gewang at CS.Princeton.EDU
Thu Apr 20 19:30:48 EDT 2006

Hi Joerg!

> btw: anyone using chuck for education? i am planning to use chuck in a 
> class at university...

I think several institutions have started to use chuck as a teaching 
tool, both for audio synthesis and programming.  We taught and are 
teaching the Princeton Laptop Orchestra with ChucK, and have been 
pleasantly surprised by the result.  Last semester, we taught ChucK to 15 
freshmen (none of whom had prior programming experience).  They were 
hooked from the start (the assignments eventually included building a 
on-the-fly generative drum machine, a soundscape, duo and trio 
performances).  The bulk of the success, I believe, was due to the sheer 
creative will and energy of the students (they all were fantastic), but it 
also proved to us that ChucK can be a viable and beneficial teaching tool.

Here is a highly encouraging quote (reproduced here from the README to the 
drum machine assignment) from Anna, a student in last semester's course 
(and a world-class cellist):

"... However, when everything worked the way it was supposed to, when my 
spontaneous arrangement of computer lingo transformed into a musical 
composition, it was a truly amazing experience.  The ability to control 
duration and pitch with loops, integers, and frequency notation sent me on 
a serious power trip."

It wasn't all smooth sailing, of course, a multitude of bugs/features were 
discovered, and a lot of on-the-fly fixing took place.  But no one got 
discouraged, and we introduced a lot of features and bug fixes (and new 
bugs) as a result.  Also, we taught using Max/MSP at the same time, which 
turned out to be fruitful, pedogogically since it exposed two very 
different paradigms, and practically because Max and ChucK tended to crash 
in different places, and having options for the task-at-hand is usually 

Perry, Dan Trueman, Scott Smallwood, and students can provide better, 
potentially different, and more extended perspectives, this was just my 
2::cent on ChucK and PLOrk.

If anyone else is using ChucK in the classroom (I know of folks at UVic, 
McGill, GA Tech, and few other places that use chuck to various degrees), 
we'd love to hear about it.  Perhaps we can eventually make a list of 
places that use ChucK for education, and share our materials/experiences.

(Feel free to fire away.)


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