“Find, find the value of pi — starts 3 point 1 4 1 5 9.
A good ol’ fraction you may hope to define, but the decimal never dies ….”
— from Larry Lesser’s “American Pi”, winner of the National Museum of Mathematics’ Pi Day of the Century song contest
photo © Lauren Davis
Lesser during his keynote for a district-wide in-service for Cherry Creek School District’s K-12 teachers in Denver.
|ABOUT THE MATHEMUSICIAN: To support his mission to motivate learning, Professor Lesser integrates 2 great loves – math and music! As the Mathemusician (some say “the Weird Al Yankovic of math ed”), Lesser incorporates song and guitar in interactive classes and keynotes, facilitating explorations and performing songs spanning content such as infinity, pi, and worldly contexts such as the lottery!
Lesser has won a score of awards for educational STEM songs and song videos in national contests (NSF, ASA, National Museum of Mathematics, CAUSE, QL-SIGMAA, STEM Art and Film Festival) and has given presentation-performances for national audiences ranging from mathematics teachers (e.g., an SRO audience of 800+ to open the 2009 NCTM conference in Nashville) to mathematicians (e.g., 2008 MAA MathFest banquet or the 2014 Bridges meeting) to statisticians (e.g., 2013 USCOTS banquet) to general audiences (e.g., 2015 MoMath event and 2018 NSF video showcase). A dozen of his STEM songs have even been played on TV or radio.
His songs yielded meaningful learning gains in an NSF-funded randomized experiment and helped land an award-winning follow-up NSF grant to write and assess interactive statistics songs (see our JSE paper), which also launched the VOICES STEM song conference (featured in Forbes). Lesser’s math-and-music work has been featured in print media (e.g., Australia’s largest paper), institutional media (e.g., newsletter or newscast), STEM songwriter media, and mass media (from El Paso to Jamaica!). While he focuses on secondary and postsecondary levels, Lesser has also produced math-and-music material for younger audiences, ranging from a regional PBS-TV children’s show to a newspaper syndicated feature The Mini Page (read by 20 million people in 500+ newspapers).
Lesser has published 100+ math/stat lyrics (and 70+ STEM poems) and pioneering papers (e.g., in J. of Statistics Education, Mathematics Teacher, Teaching Statistics, EJSME, J. of Mathematics Education, VOICES, eCOTS, and one of the most-viewed papers in the history of J. of Mathematics and the Arts) on using music in math/statistics class, as part of broader work on educational fun. His songwriter cred is real: he’s also had awards, airplay, album cuts, etc. for his non-STEM songs, including multiple recognitions at the 2021 New Mexico Music Awards.