March 2, 2013

Secret Codes and Music

Morse Code dashes and dots

Morse Code dashes and dots

It combines music and Morse Code. Sounds geeky, but it wasn’t started by my son Sean. Sean plays base, obsessively. He is almost never with his six-foot friend and when he can’t carry it, he practices by using his arm or chest as a fingerboard.

Sean and I are both very private. I don’t have a lot of friends because I’m too busy working and trying to make the financial ends of life meet. Sean doesn’t like most people. He’s pretty smart and most people don’t understand his interests, so maybe that’s why.

The result is we have developed codes for private communication. Written ones use palindromes and mathematical equations. Visual ones–when we’re in a group and need to say something to just each other–usually revolve around music. Why? Because no one would suspect it. It’s what Sean always does and they always figure, like mother like son. If he pads out music, his mom must too.

We didn’t think this up. Some famous musicians used music to send messages to their in crowd.John Lennon for example. It ‘s rumored he hid his initials in Strawberry Fields Forever. Look at programmers. They always hide Easter Eggs (hidden games, etc.) in their programming for just those in-the-know to find.

What is musical Morse Code? It goes like this: An eighth note is a dot and a quarter note a dash with an eighth rest between each letter. When Sean fingers his string bass (using his chest as the finger board), I watch the taps and breaks and I can always get his message.

Next time you see someone tapping out a tune silently on their arm or chest, watch more closely.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, presentation reviewer for CSTA, Cisco guest blogger, a monthly contributor to TeachHUB, columnist for, featured blogger for Technology in Education, and IMS tech expert. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.