Written September 24th, September 25th | Published September 25th, 10:00PM
Note: I largely wrote this at midnight, so expect some little spelling errors that'll be ironed out soon
This is my first post on dev.to! Let me introduce myself a bit:
My name is Anthony Bramley, programmer, composer, and writer. I was born in Chicago a while back and now I'm here. In my free time, I'm either biking, playing volleyball, or figuring out some random API that I'll never use. I also like to scroll on Twitter a bit too much (wasn't sure this was possible until I checked my app usage), and chat on Discord. Now, here are 3 very long winded but well-worth-the-read sections on each of my primary "talents."
I first discovered programming when I was around 8 and was toying with Command Blocks in Minecraft. It amazed me that just a bit of text could manipulate the pixelated world that I was so immersed in, and I wondered how it worked. I did a bit of Googling, and stumbled upon Scratch. Many don't consider this a real language, but it's a good way to teach yourself fundamentals of "real" programming languages.
I got bored of playing with the default cat and some preset blocks and thought back to the text in my Command Blocks. Another few Google searches later, and I found Codecademy. I largely attribute the program to truly fostering my interest in code as a whole, even though I never fully progressed through its series of programming challenges. I remember playing with Ruby and Python a bit, but I have the largest memories with HTML. As long as you code it right, you have an immediate product when using HTML, which is perfect for a little kid. Kids don't have very much patience, and I think this is what lead to a 3 year hiatus in my programming story.
Imagine you're a 7th grader trying to sit through a lesson on the water cycle. If you were anything like me last year, you would've tried to create a website with friends that went right against your school district's Chromebook usage policy and ported games onto a tiny website. While I didn't really lead this project, it really shoved me back into coding. My friend had been using Repl.it to port games like BloonsTDS and Snake onto an unblocked-url for a month now. I created an account, joined the Discord server (which I now somehow moderate), made new "friends," and really got into programming again. I really owe it to Amjad Masad and the rest of the team for making Repl.it, because I would've been stuck bored out of my mind in 4th period Science class and being unengaged in the programming world. Well, maybe the former doesn't matter as much, but it's still something to be thankful for.
Now, as a 13 year old, I've been building websites, messing with C#, and recently created a programming language called Quest with one of my online peers (yes I know it looks like JS, no it wasn't meant to be like that, and no I don't care). I still have a long way to go, but I think it's important for myself to realize that I've come a long way too.
I started playing music when I was in 4th grade and tried out the Alto Saxophone. Definitely not the best playing in the world, but at least good enough to be formally recommended by my band director to play it. After practicing throughout the school year, in about March we got our first full band piece. It was Mickey Mouse March, and I played the hell out of it. Playing at my first concert with that piece felt amazing, and I wondered if I could make the music myself.
The first program I messed around with to make music was Noteflight, which I remember being rather lackluster. However, after a few edited search terms, I found Musescore. The simple but extremely capable tool really helped me out as I was starting. I wrote a lot, but I only ever finished 2 songs, titled Epidemic (how fitting) and Night.
On a road trip back from Cleveland, I started writing a piece that would give me my first composition award. It was titled Color Mage, and was for a small woodwind ensemble. Wasn't my best work, but good enough to get 3rd place in the ILMEA Composition Contest. After realizing I could be recognized my pieces, I continued working harder and harder.
I asked my grandma for Finale one year, arguably the most powerful and popular professional composing/engraving software. It has a steep learning curve (at least from Musescore), and that's where it all fell. As mentioned above, I was very impatient around 9/10 years old, and was never able to get the most out of Finale. It was just ~$500 down the drain. When I was selecting the note and hitting the arrow key to go up a semitone in Musescore, Finale didn't do anything. Finale wants you to do it their way or the highway, which is to hit a random sharp or flat button in the toolbar. Perhaps one day I'll make another attempt to learn how to use Finale.
After many more incomplete songs I started working on Enchant in late 2019. It was originally for a large concert band, but was shrunk down to fit the contest guidelines. There was an accelerando running throughout the entire piece, with 3 sections. This piece actually won first place in the ILMEA Composition Contest, and I was able to go down to Peoria and watch the awards ceremony.
In November 2019, I wrote 2 solos for my friends for the IGSMA Solo and Ensemble Festival. Neither played their piece, but it was a good experience nevertheless. I think they didn't play them because it didn't have a piano part. I suck at writing piano accompaniments, and is something I'm still working on today. Please send me tips on that.
This past December, I wrote a saxophone solo in an hour called Stargazing. I believe this is one of my best pieces yet, and was virtually unplayable for me. There's a super fast chromatic run in the transition from the soothing, calm section to a very large and powerful fast section, which was a big challenge when performing this for my family 2 days later. I tried to get a friend to record it, but they bailed.
I'm working on a full ensemble piece for the Composition Contest this year for brass ensemble, something I've never tried before. I have a general idea for the song, but I really need help. I'm also working on my accompaniment writing skills, but I'm not progressing as much as I had expected. It's another issue with my impatience developed when I was younger. I still have a long way to go, but I think it's important for myself to realize that I've come a long way too.
I don't have much to say on this end, I can just write a quality paper in a short time and proofread as I go. This was written over the course of maybe 2 hours, and I'd say it's alright. I can't include the part about my childhood impatience here, because I don't have much of a writing history to talk about where that's present. Nearly everybody has an issue with writing, whether it's writer's block or just not wanting to do it. I suppose I could talk about my writing planning:
None. No planning goes into my writing, because it's time consuming and I don't need it (maybe this ties in with the impatience idea). This article wasn't planned out at all, rather it was an inkling in my head that I was able to evolve upon as I wrote. I noticed my childhood impatience as I was writing. I built upon that idea, made it a common theme, and was somehow able to have a moral built into an informational text. I wish I wrote more, which is sort of why I'm here.
I will be publishing a full essay here every Friday until at least 2021. I've needed something to do during quarantine, and this website combines 2 of my passions which will make it easy on me. On Sundays and Wednesdays, I'll post 2 discussion boards each. I'll try to respond to each comment on the discussion boards, and hopefully we can form some odd pseudo-community. Here are all my planned essays and discussions (none of which I've started writing, by the way):
- Sunday, September 27th | How did you get into programming? I'm sure this has been asked a bajillion times, but it's a good conversation starter in my opinion.
- Wednesday, September 30th | What is your favorite physical programming education tool? This ties in with a paper I planned for later, and will really help me out.
- Friday, October 2nd | How to make the jump from your IDE to Repl.it. As a somewhat-prominent member of the Repl.it community, I feel like I should help welcome others coming from VS Code, Glitch, or anything else.
- Sunday, October 4th | What is your favorite programming language and why? Also a pretty common question, but I need to expand my horizons and try out other things. I'd also like to help others discover new languages.
- Wednesday, October 7th | What's in the near future of mobile? I've never really tried to learn mobile stuff until recently. It seems interesting, and I'd like opinions.
- Friday, October 9th | The History and Future of Physical Programming Education Tools (And Why Many Didn't Work). This subject has interested me for a while, and I've started developing my own PPET.
So yeah! I'm excited to start writing for you guys! Please give me any suggestions of discussion boards or papers I should write, and I might be able to fit it in! Please follow me here and on Twitter, where I like to scroll a bit too much.
I can't think of anything else notable to put here, so bye!