Artwork by David Currie

In this profile we’re featuring learner David Currie. He’s enrolled in a number of courses in music programming, such as Introduction to Real-Time Audio Programming in ChucK and Sound Production in Ableton Live for Musicians and Artists. Also enrolled in traditional college courses, David decided to take courses online to get ahead in his education and expand his knowledge at his own pace. Driven by a passion for music technology, David’s projects consist of a range of music compositions and sonic art.

We spoke to David about his experience learning on He shares his favorite features on the platform, his outlook towards online education and its impact on students.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

My name is David Currie. I am a student at the New Zealand School of Music. The primary focus of my studies has been music composition (including instrumental/sonic art). Recently I have begun to use computer programming in my practice.

What made you want to use as a resource?

At the start of 2017 I enrolled in a course in the ChucK programming language at my university. My lecturer introduced our class to Kadenze and suggested that we use it as an extra learning resource. I checked it out and realised that there were courses available for many artistic tools that I wanted to learn how to use.

What benefits do you see in taking online courses that traditional, in-person courses don’t offer or fall short on? How would you compare those two experiences?

I really enjoy having the ability to pause, rewind and rewatch videos. In traditional, in-person courses I often find myself needing to fully understand one concept before I can move on to the next. With online courses I can always go at my own pace. Course sessions are organised into shorter video clips allowing for quick navigation of course material.

Another massive benefit is courses being available for a fraction of the price of university courses. In the case of, much of the course catalog can be audited for free, or with a premium membership courses can be engaged with further through assignment submissions, forum access and interaction with the online course gallery space.

Student David Currie works on creative programming projects, musical compositions, and sonic art.

What did you find most enjoyable about the knowledge you’ve gained from the courses?

On there are so many courses teaching so many different subjects. In my case what I find most exciting is looking for ways to integrate these tools together. An artistic idea can be effectively realised with the right choice of technological components.

At the same time, ideas can be influenced from the combinations of the technology itself. A novel combination of programming languages or different software can act as an imposed artistic restriction that can assist creativity. There is a vast landscape of digital tools that are freely available to artists and these can be considered in the same way that a composer might consider the instrumentation that they utilise in a piece of music.

Also, learning computer programming has completely changed my life and my artistic practice.

What were your favorite features about

Definitely the best feature is the ability to view other students’ work and provide and receive feedback. The course gallery can be a source of inspiration as well as a way to engage in meaningful discussion with other students. Online courses have lacked in the past a sense of community and social interaction. Kadenze also asks students to provide grades for other students’ work. This interaction is beneficial for both the grader and the grade.

What are some unexpected challenges you found in learning through online courses?

Without the pressure of scheduled classes, meetings with supervisors, or hard deadlines, you must motivate yourself to keep going. This works for some people better than others. Also, with having access to so many courses and exciting topics, it can be necessary to devise your own learning plan or pathway to ensure an effective use of your time. Without forming a learning structure it is possible to become overwhelmed or distracted by the large amount of information available.

Art by David Currie.

Do you have favourite coursework that you submitted, or that you saw from another student in the Gallery?

I really enjoy enrolling in courses I would not normally take just to look through the course galleries. I also like to look at the course galleries to get some insight into whether a course would be interesting for me.

I’ll post a couple of my ChucK pieces because that is where I began with Kadenze, here and here.

Since taking the courses, how have you applied the knowledge you’ve developed from the projects you’ve completed and skills you’ve learned? In what ways have they enhanced your career or portfolio potential?

Learning computer programming has given me an inlet into other artist mediums outside of music. The skills are also very transferable to things outside of my artistic practice. Kadenze has also been a valuable resource for learning technologies that I then use for my university projects.

The rising costs of higher education are forcing students to consider other affordable alternatives. Based on your experience, how do you think online courses can alleviate that issue? How has it helped you?

Making learning affordable and accessible is extremely important. It is pretty crazy how much debt students must endure to obtain university qualifications. Online courses have allowed me to pursue a wide range of technologies that are not offered as part of my university qualification.

These technologies however, are cutting-edge and directly related to new artistic practices. Online courses still have some way to go. The absence of having a tutor or mentor can be felt, but this also has encouraged students to form communities and assist each other with problems and provide each other feedback. The better online courses become, the more universities will have to prove their value and adapt to the needs of their students.

Final Score by David Currie. See the live version here.

What kind of opportunities do you hope to pursue in the future, and in which subjects?

I want to go further into postgraduate study and hopefully study abroad. Right now I am interested in creating browser-based works but I am constantly pulled towards different artistic values and methods of delivery.

Any advice you’d like to give to students interested in exploring subjects through

Just to create while you learn rather than feel as though you must learn everything about a topic before using it. Take notes while you watch the videos and adapt what you learn immediately into personal projects. Doing that has helped me to engage more effectively with the material learned from Kadenze.

Anything else you would like to tell us?

Here are a couple of projects of mine including a musical score for string quartet created in p5.js and an audio-visual online installation created with p5.js and node.


Want to create your own original creative programming projects? Check out the courses below and sign up now:

Sound Production in Ableton Live for Musicians and Artists

Sound Production in Ableton Live for Musicians and Artists

California Institute of the Arts


Introduction to Real-Time Audio Programming in ChucK

Introduction to Real-Time Audio Programming in ChucK

California Institute of the Arts