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Students + Math + Music = Success? Yes!

What do a physicist, Hip Hop engineer, classical music fan, epidemiologist, video rap teacher, Grammy Award winner and a risk analyst, all profiled below in text and video, have in common? They love math as much as music.

Prince tweeted that the show “Hamilton” was “THE BEST HISTORY CLASS EVER!” Music can help students to achieve traction in math and their careers.

This now digitally-enhanced article appeared originally in the National Society of Black Engineers magazine NSBE Bridge. It seeks to inspire young engineers.

More math, and math and music, resources are at the end of this gallery.

Math and Hip Hop with Mike Likes Science


Mike Likes Science creates kid fun with his clever math raps. Show creator, Michael Wilson, earned his MS in Computer Science at Portland State University and his BA in Fine and Studio Arts from York College/City University of New York.

Follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and his music videos on YouTube.

Professor Stephon Alexander and John Coltrane


Stephon Alexander, a Dartmouth College theoretical physicist, gave a TED Talk about “The Jazz of Physics,” based on the great jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane’s music. Learn more at Alexander’s SSA: The Jazz of Physics.

Follow him @stephstem

Alexander wrote, in BusinessInsider, that a Coltrane compositional “diagram [“a compilation of a myriad of scales from Europe, Asia, Africa, and all over the world”] was related to another and seemingly unrelated field of study-quantam gravity….What I had realized…was that the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.”

In 2018, Alexander was elected president of the National Society of Black Physicists. The preeminent group devoted to the black physics community.

Alexander shows the links between physics and jazz

Omayra Ortega


A Lover of Math and Music

Since 2018, Ortega has been an Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at her Alma Mater, Pomona College, where she earned her BA in Music and Pure Mathematics. MIT says Pure Mathematics is “the study of the basic concepts and structures that underlie mathematics.”

Ortega, whose parents were from Panama, received her PHD in Applied Mathematics & Computational Sciences and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Iowa. Her interests also include mathematical epidemiology.

MathAlliance (National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences), says Ortega’s uses math biology to track sickle-cell anemia malaria transmission.

Ortega spoke at the Infinite Possibilities Conference for Women of Color in Mathematics and Statistics conference.

Herbie Hancock


Grammy award-winner, Herbie Hancock‘s curiosity about mechanical devices, led him to play piano, and to study electrical engineering at Grinnell College.

Hancock is chair of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. It has collaborated with New York University’s Music Experience Design Lab, (MusEDLab) to create an online school kit for teachers called MathScienceMusic.org. See below.

Herbie Hancock’s music tech nerd-out: Rockit

NYU CombinesTeaching Math, Science and Music

The NYU Music Experience Lab (MusEDLab) was created to attract K-12 students to explore and play with interactive apps. Play with this sample of the NYU apps:

Anne-Marie Oreskovich

Teaching Kids About Math Through Music

sr19.MathMusic.Anne-Marie Oreskovich

Gittins & Oreskovich Consulting

Oreskovich founded the edutech firm Math Musical Minds (MMM).

To introduce children to math in cartoons, she composes music, writes screenplays, draws storyboards, sings songs and provides voices. MMM also uses cartoons to ease children’s fear of hospitals and doctors.

MMM’s Math Musical Preview

The Marshall Scholar earned her PhD in Mathematical Biology from Oxford University and her Mathematics degree, Phi Beta Kappa, at Harvard University. Follow her @MathMusicalMind

Oreskovich is also co-founder of Gittins & Oreskovich Consulting. It created the Gittins-Oreskovich risk measures, that quantify risk in drug development projects.

Professor James Gates


Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Gates, a globally-celebrated theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, showed the link between math and music in his paper, “Math meets Music: The Surprising Symmetry of String Theory and [composer Arnold] Schoenberg.” Follow him @Dr_JimGates.

Watch Gates expound upon the math-music link.

Hip Hop and Math

Top Hip Hop producers/audio engineers including Jay-Z’s audio specialist, Young Guru,  and others including Kanye West, Tay Keith, Cardo, and TrapMoneyBenny,  don’t use math symbols to show creation and use of natural and synthetic sounds and musical samples. They add, subtract, multiply and divide sounds to craft beats.


Young Guru, Anthony Cruz engineer Meek Mill’s “Championships” album. Brian Ngo for Vibe.com

Young Guru Explains Audio Engineering

Last year, Gimel Androus Keaton better known as Young Guru spoke at SWSX (South by Southwest) at a session titled “Music Tech: A Gateway to Awaken America’s Youth.”

He said, “Music is a catalyst for underserved youth to engineer a better future. Giving them the confidence to navigate high-level programming sparks creativity, as kids start experimenting with how to approach a topic they already relate to – music.”

Clayton Cameron



Cameron Drums and Lectures About Math

Cameron teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Cameron’s TED Talk video explains “A-rhythm-etic: The Math Behind the Beats” and learn how geometry is a basis of math and hip hop math and hip hop dancing.

Follow him @cbrushman.

Thelonious Monk, a premier jazz pianist, said that, “all musicians are subconsciously mathematicians. Listen to Monk play.

Math, Math and Music Resources


American Mathematical Society (AMS)

-Check AMS  Programs for Students, Travel Grants, diversity initiatives, and Fellowships and Scholarships and summer camps.

-AMS’s 2019 $10,000 Who Wants to Be a Mathematician scholarship game schedule. Open to high school and lower grade students.

-The Infinite Possibilities Conference for Women of Color in Mathematics and Statistics

The National Association of Mathematicians, a diverse group.

Lathisms features Latinxs and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences.

The Math Alliance, is also known as, the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. Check out the group’s 2019 fellowships, jobs, workshops and events.

Visit the National Society of Black Engineers and NSBE Bridge.

Math and Music:

Mike Likes Science

(MusEDLab) is New York University’s Music Experience Design Lab.

MathScienceMusic is an online school kit for teachers.

Visit the the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

Math & Music Makers Summer Camp

Syrmrna, Georgia

Summer Piano & Math Camp

Baltimore, MD-based camp for “underserved elementary and middle school students who have an interest in learning piano and utilizes music education as a catalyst for math skill building. See About Us

*STEMRules.com has no connection, financial or otherwise, to any math and music groups or events displayed. You must investigate the venues.

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