How I Got Here – Part 1

This is the first post of in a series of “My Story” articles which detail how I got here. Though the posts are numbered, they are not necessarily in chronological order. I generally view my start in web development with the creation of my first project. From that point forward, many events have lead up to today, the day I launch this blog. The next several posts in the series will detail this adventure in coding.

I also plan on going back and exploring the past, because as mentioned in the About page, I have long been interested in computers and technology in general, and that interest lead to where I am today. I also look forward to adding new chapters to my story as I continue to move through my career as a web developer.

So, how did I get here?

It started with an idea I had while teaching one day. I teach in a suburban public middle school in South Jersey. I have been the band director at this school since Feburary of 2012. My job at the school is to teach students in grades 5 through 8 to play typical school band instruments and basic musicianship skills, such as reading music. One goal I have always had for my students was to be better sight-readers. Sight-reading is the musical skill of being able to play music off the printed page without hearing it first.

One Friday afternoon, while teaching my 6th grade band, I had been feverishly writing down short, random rhythms for the class to practice on my interactive white board.  We would practice the rhythm, I would erase it, write another one, practice it, and repeat.  During this process of erasing and thinking up a new rhythm, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a web app that could do this for me?” Later on, I did some Googling, and discovered that there did not exist a tool quite like what I needed.  I had some basic programming experience from before, so I decided that week, I would build the web app I needed.

I stayed up late that Friday night, reading HTML, CSS, and JavaScript reference materials, and put together my first website.  I did all of my editing in Notepad++, and uploaded everything using my ISP’s clunky web software to the little bit of web space that is included with our internet package.  At the time of writing this post, the original site can still be found here.  I called the site The Rhythm Randomizer (a name which I am not necessarily happy with, but it works), proudly showed it to my wife (who also teaches music), and posted it to some music-teacher friends of mine on Facebook.  Monday morning, I excitedly brought the site up on the interactive whiteboard in my classroom, and began to use it immediately.

Aside from getting to use a new tool to help me better teach my students, I also discovered the pure joy and satisfaction one gets when creating something that wasn’t there before.  One minute, this tool did not exist on the vastness of the Internet.  One evening later, it was there, for me or anyone else to use.  This feeling of satisfaction, of getting something to work, creating something new and different, created a spark, that put me on a path to becoming a web developer.

Read more of my story – How I Got Here – Part 2

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