Music is the sound of mathematics, built of aural patterns by the careful measurement of time. Every musical instrument, be it voice or violin or volynka, is a sport with its own rules, and every song is a game of harmonics and symmetry. But like other kinds of math, just watching and listening won’t teach you much. To appreciate music, you need to make some yourself.

You don’t need to be a great musician to enjoy making music. You don’t need expensive equipment. Singing is free, and so are basic midi editors. Familiar instruments like a keyboard, recorder, ukulele, or drum can begin to train your fingers. But my favorite tool for musical composition is Noteflight. Nothing builds musical literacy like learning to write musical notation.

That’s what I have been doing here. I started by notating familiar songs to sing or play with my family, but soon I was changing the lyrics or making up new melodies for traditional rhymes. Before long I was writing poetry to go with tunes I made, and vise versa. They are not great music, but they taught me how to experiment and push boundaries. I still have much to learn.