learning python in a week

This is a lie. I didn’t learn Python in a week. What I did do however was pick up a lot of the basics of programming which, for me, seemed quite an absurd goal as a devout muso. 🎷🎶

In my eternal quest to procrastinate in ever more pseudo-productive ways, I asked my STEM friends about how to even start with something like programming. “Do Python” was the simple answer I got back. You often hear that it’s the most popular, beginner-friendly language to start with; just punching “python for beginners” into Google vomits hundreds of free courses of tutorials onto your screen. So where to start? I stumbled onto this amazing free textbook by Charles Severance that chewed through the basics in granular little sections that made the whole task so much more digestible. 100% recommend this if you like having a textbook-like visual reference to learn from.

Before starting to learn, the word “coding” had completely misled me: it gave me the impression that “code” was some indecipherable mystery of 1s and 0s that only computers and anti-social nerds could make any sense of. What I found was the complete opposite. Languages such as Python have been purpose-built to be readable by humans—some parts even read like grammatically coherent English sentences. Take this quick example:

if this is True:
    print("This is true!")
    print("This is false.")

I’m by no means an authority on explaining this but essentially, all the language does is turn something we can make sense of into 1s and 0s for the computer (known as compiling, or more specifically in Python’s case, interpreting). Sadly you can’t just write instructions for the computer in plain English (that would be amazing), but the fact we can even use a “language” to talk to these machines is pretty impressive, I think.

I haven’t had nearly enough time to really explore Python in all its depth, but just scratching the surface has shown me some pretty cool possibilities. Might need to spend a little more time on my actual music degree going forward though.

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