Here are some options in the meantime: (1) give yourself (or students) permission to sing the lyrics a capella, (2) share the spotlight with musically inclined students in your classroom who can provide the accompaniment on appropriate instruments, (3) find online a “MIDI file” or get a vocals-removed karaoke disc of the music and sing (and/or have students sing) the math lyrics instead (e.g., see the top of my page for “The Gambler”), (4) make your own karaoke or video as several folks do, (5) find an MP3 on this page or at causeweb.org and press “play”, or (6) Skype/bring me to your city!
• “The Gambler” addresses strategies and myths for playing a state lottery and may be sung to the tune of the same-titled Don Schlitz song that yielded Kenny Rogers a #1 country hit and TV miniseries. Appears in Winter 2002 Stats, January 2005 Journal of Irreproducible Results, and the banquet booklet of 2013 USCOTS. Click HERE to hear a demo recording and click HERE to see a related video (which won the 2011 “QL in the Media” contest sponsored by SIGMAA-QL, was “Best Online Submission” by the American Statistical Association 2014 “ASA’s Got Talent” contest, and was a winner in the fall 2015 MoMath song contest that yielded this live footage).
• “Mean” explains why the mean is generally an inappropriate summary of highly skewed data. May be sung to the tune of Taylor Swift’s 2011 top-10 country hit and 2012 Grammy winning country song of the year of the same title. Appears in the fall 2011 Texas Mathematics Teacher and in the 8(1-2) issue (2014) of Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Call it Maybe” introduces the statistical idea of estimation (e.g., of a population mean mu) and its uncertainty. This lyric won 2nd place in the Song Category of the 2013 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest and may be sung to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen’s #1 hit “Call Me Maybe” that was MTV’s Song of the Year for 2012. Click HERE to hear a recording by UTEP music majors!
• “Hit Me With Your Best Plot” concisely reminds students about good principles of graphing. May be sung to the tune of the Eddie Schwartz song “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” that was a #9 hit for Pat Benatar in 1979. Appears in Spring 2011 Teaching Statistics. Revision (with a new third verse) appeared in banquet booklet of 2013 United States Conference on Teaching Statistics and you can hear a demo recording HERE.
* “” conveys (to the tune of Marc Cohn’s #13 1991 hit “Walking in Memphis”) the excitement of discovering this discipline. Appears in August 2014 Amstat News (note: I also still love math and am glad mathematicians are increasingly recognizing the importance of statistics). Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
* “(This is How) Stats Are Like Diamonds” explores (to the tune of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”) how statistics are socially constructed. Appears in August 2016 Amstat News.
* “ facilitates (to the tune of the signature 90s hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana) discussion of common impressions about the role of data, sample size, and significance testing. Appears in Sept. 2015 Amstat News. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “What p-Value Means” is a quick (10 seconds) catchy way (sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”) to recall what a p-value is. Appears in Spring 2007 Teaching Statistics and fall 2007 (issue 48) Stats. Click HERE to hear a demo recording or see a video that includes the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezVdI1P0AqY
• “Correlation Song” is a quick (20-second) jingle (to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”) to recall a connection between correlation and slope. Debuted in the banquet booklet of the 2013 United States Conference on Teaching Statistics. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Probability Rules Rap” recalls basic probability rules in introductory statistics and won an Honorable Mention in the Song Category of the 2015 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “On Average”, which won 3rd place in the Song Category of the 2015 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest, extrapolates the quip that ‘a statistician can have their head in an oven and their feet in ice and say on average they feel fine.’ This sets up the lesson that means are not always meaningful, especially without information on variability. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Birthday Song” contrasts the often confused events of "some people matching" with "someone matches with me" [see my Birthday Problem article in May 1999 Mathematics Teacher], and may be sung to the tune of Mildred J. Hill & Patty Smith Hill’s “Happy Birthday to You.” Appears in Winter 2002 Stats. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “MLE” stands for Maximum Likelihood Estimator and explores its properties that are well-known and widely used by statisticians and stats majors. May be sung to the tune of Lennon & McCartney’s “Let it Be”. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Square It!” explores why line of best fit is generally implemented by minimizing the sum of the squares of the errors and may be sung to the tune of “Beat It!”, Michael Jackson’s 1983 #1 hit that went platinum, won a Grammy, and helped make Thriller the best-selling album of all time. Appears on p. 36 of the September 2014 Amstat News. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Y Hat Dance” summarizes the process and notation for finding a line of fit for a scatterplot and may be sung to the tune of the folk tune “Mexican Hat Dance” (aka Jarabe Tapatío: remember, I teach within a mile of Mexico!). Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “1 in 2” is a story song written from the viewpoint of a character who needs to recognize and transcend the pitfall of “equiprobability bias.” This original song won Honorable Mention in the Song Category of the 2013 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Left of Center”, turns the same-titled Suzanne Vega and Stephan Addabbo hit (from the 1986 movie Pretty in Pink) into an exploration of the features and terminology of a unimodal continuous left-skewed distribution. This song won an Honorable Mention in the Song Category of the 2015 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Partial to You” is a playful love song invoking language and concepts of multiple regression. This original song won 3rd place in the Song Category of the 2013 CAUSE A-mu-sing national contest. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Statistician’s BLUEs” is a statistician’s “breakup” song pun-ctuated with stats terms (12-bar blues music and lyrics by Lesser). Appears in Winter 2002 Stats, June 2008 Journal of Irreproducible Results, and April 2007 MAA Math Horizons. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “We are the Statletes” is an anthem celebrating what statisticians contribute to the world and may be sung to the tune of the Queen platinum #4 hit “We are the Champions” by Freddy Mercury. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Taking Leave of Our Census” introduces the debate (e.g., how Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution may permit using the Post-Enumerative Survey) about statistically adjusting America’s decennial census for undercount, and may be sung to the tune of John Denver’s #1 hit “Annie’s Song” [I used Census data as the staff statistician for the Texas Legislative Council during the 1990-91 redistricting process, and co-authored a paper about redistricting in the October 2012 Mathematics Teacher.] Appears in Winter 2002 Stats and in Autumn 2001 Teaching Statistics. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Average Love Songs” educates about the mean while making commentary on typical pop radio love songs. May be sung to the tune of the #1 Paul McCartney hit “Silly Love Songs”. Appears in Sept. 2005 Amstat News and Nov. 2005 Journal of Irreproducible Results. Click HERE to hear a rockin’ rendition by UTEP music majors!
• “One is the Likeliest Number” is based on a fascinating result called Benford’s Law (e.g., see Spring 2009 Teaching Statistics) about the distribution of first digits in datasets. May be sung to the tune of the Harry Nilsson song “One (is the Loneliest Number)”, which was a #5 hit (and first gold record) for Three Dog Night in 1969. Appears in Spring 2011 Teaching Statistics. Click HERE to hear a rockin’ rendition by UTEP music majors!
MATH SONGS (some with soundfiles here)
• “Hotel (Called) Infinity” – is a metaphor German mathematician David Hilbert used near the start of the 1900s to help clarify paradoxes about infinity, and may be sung to the tune of the (also surreal) #1 hit “Hotel California” by The Eagles. [I was also inspired by Ian Stewart's "Hilbert's Hotel" story in the Dec. 1998 New Scientist]. Appears in November 2004 The Journal of Irreproducible Results, May 2001 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal, the 2005 Len Wapner book The Pea and the Sun: A Mathematical Paradox (the book and my lyric got a good review), and the Oct. 2006 American Mathematical Monthly. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “American Pi” -- presents historical highlights (and a mnemonic for the first 6 significant figures) of the number pi [see http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/piday.html], and may be sung to the tune of Don McLean’s #1 hit “American Pie.” Various versions have appeared in journals (e.g., Mathematics Teacher, Pi in the Sky, Journal of Irreproducible Results, MAA Math Horizons, Convergence, Journal of Mathematics Education), books, videos (e.g., the band Calvin Coolidge), and websites (the version that won the National Museum of Mathematics' "Pi Day of the Century" song contest can be read (and heard) HERE), and for the lyric’s current version and story of its creation, see THIS.
• “Circle Song” helps secondary school students distinguish and recall the two most common formulas associated with circles. Appears in Fall 2004 Texas Mathematics Teacher and in the 8(1-2) issue of Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. [for more pi fun, click HERE] Click HERE to hear a demo recording or see a video that includes the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezVdI1P0AqY
• “Pi Will Go On” highlights history of the number pi and may be sung to the tune of Celine Dion’s biggest hit “My Heart Will Go On” (the song went to #1 worldwide as one of the all-time best-selling singles) by Will Jennings and James Horner from the soundtrack of the 1997 film Titanic. Click HERE to hear my demo recording of the song. Appears in the Spring 2014 GCTM eReflections and in the 8(1-2) issue of Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.
Will Graph You! / We Are the Mathletes!” – “We Will Graph You”
gives students step-by-step encouragement to graph a given function (there's
a version for "general form" parabolas and a version adapted from a
John A. Carter lyric for "slope-intercept form" lines) as they
chant over the pound-pound-clap-rest algo-rhythmic
pattern of Queen’s #4 hit “We Will Rock You!” On March 31, 2002, my
quadratic version was republished to accompany a story in
the Herald Sun, the top-selling newspaper in
• “Domain and Range” -- helps students keep in mind a function’s possible “inputs” and “outputs,” and may be sung to the tune of the traditional 19th-century (pre-Billboard charts!) Western song “Home on the Range.” [performed on "Math Medley," a weekly hour-long talk-radio show broadcast live on AM radio in Arizona and New England and on Internet radio www.renaissanceradio.com worldwide] Appears in May 2000 Mathematics Teacher.
• “Music of the Spheres” was inspired by the so-named Pythagorean idea (also referred to centuries later by others such as Maimonides and Kepler) that each planet contributed a particular "note" (based on ratios of small whole numbers) to the grand harmony of the universe (lyrics and music written by Lesser). Appears in March 1999 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal and May 2006 American Mathematical Monthly. The middle part of the song opens a radio interview I did HERE and the song is in THIS video.
• “Fifty Ways to Work a Problem” -- reminds students that real-life problem solving follows a general strategy (i.e., G. Polya's 4 steps as paraphrased in the chorus) but can be carried out in many ways, and may be sung to the tune of Paul Simon’s (only solo) #1 hit “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” [ note: Simon's lyric lends itself to being parodied also to teach specific bits of content, as illustrated by Dan Kalman in the Nov. 1993 College Mathematics Journal or David Morgereth in the Oct. 2001 Mathematics Teacher] Appears in May 2000 Mathematics Teacher.
• “Check Your Work” reminds all of us (from student to teacher to NASA contractor!) something important to do, and may be sung to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad". Appears in Winter 2002 [Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics] Reflections and in songsforteaching.com. Here’s an article of examples of why attention to (math) detail matters.
• “On Top of a Fraction” reinforces conceptual understanding of fractions, while making connections to language and time signature. May be sung to the tune of the folk song “On Top of Old Smokey.” Appears in fall 2007 Noticias de TODOS -- News from TODOS: Mathematics for ALL.
• “From a Distance” -- explains how some features of a graph are revealed and others concealed when viewed “from a distance,” and may be sung to the tune of the Grammy-winning song written by Julie Gold that was a #2 hit for Bette Midler. [I was inspired to connect views of world harmony to views of a graph by a writing-to-learn exercise in an algebra textbook (Wells & Schmitt 1996, p. 321) which asked students to connect the opening line of Gold's song with the fact that the graphs of y = x7 and y = x7 - 3x6 + x5 look similar from a distance.] Appears in May 2000 Mathematics Teacher and in Dec. 2005 American Mathematical Monthly.
• “Imaginary” addresses students' common initial question about imaginary numbers’ usefulness, sung to the tune of John Lennon's #3 hit "Imagine." Appears in April 2000 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal.
• “Seventeen” explores properties of the number 17 as well as a coming-of-age view of experiencing the beauty of mathematics. The lyric may be sung to the tune of sections of Janis Ian’s Grammy-winning #1 hit “At Seventeen” and was debuted at the opening banquet of the 2008 summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. Published in January 2012 Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. Click HERE to hear a demo recording that includes an additional verse!
• “The Day Math Teachers Took Over the World” is an original song (judged a winner in the 2015 MoMath song contest) of my fantasy of what the world would look like with math teachers in charge. This song was debuted at the opening banquet of the 2008 summer meeting (MathFest) of the Mathematical Association of America. Published in January 2012 Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Numbers Man” is a whimsical "math love song" I imagined my dad could have written for my mom, whom he got to know by being her calculus tutor (lyrics and music written by Lesser; judged a winner in the 2015 MoMath song contest). Appears on p. 12 of March 1999 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal. Click HERE to hear a demo recording.
• “Knowin’ Induction” introduces the technique of mathematical induction to students, adapted with permission from a lyric by Dane R. Camp (in his fun 1998 ICTM booklet) and may be sung to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Blowin’ in the Wind" (a #2 hit for Peter Paul & Mary). Appears in April 2000 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal and Sept. 2005 MAA Math Horizons.
• “Findin’ Extrema Local” concerns finding local extrema, sung to the tune of the Desmond Child and Robi Rosa song “Livin’ La Vida Loca” that was a #1 hit for Ricky Martin in 1999. Appears in the April 2015 MAA Math Horizons and was excerpted in JMA.
• “Not Even!” is an “odd” rap giving elementary school students a fun way to explore mathematical and real world connections with odd numbers! Appears in Spring 2002 [Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics] Reflections. A shorter version that I wrote of this song called “That’s Odd!” was used on a PBS-TV children’s educational show that first aired January 26, 2012.
• “This Old Man” is the traditional children’s folksong counting through the numbers 1-10, but I extended it to skip count to 100 by tens, and then went out to ten billion via powers of ten! Appears in Winter 2003 [Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics] Reflections.
• “One!” was the closing song of MAA: The Musical!”, which debuted at the opening banquet of the 2011 summer meeting of the MAA and has been reprised at several subsequent MathFests. Annalisa Crannell commissioned me to write this lyric to the (Marvin Hamlisch & Edward Kleban) tune of “One!” from A Chorus Line. Published in January 2012 Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.
• “Stairway to 7” explores a rich variety of mathematical and real-world connections to 7, and may be sung to the tune of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's (7-verse) song "Stairway to Heaven," the Led Zeppelin song that has been played most on the radio. Appeared in Aug. 2001 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal and in May/June 2007 MAA FOCUS (just before 7/7/07!).
• “8 is So Neat” explores a rich variety of mathematical and real-world connections to 8, and may be sung to the tune of the 1965 #1 hit “Eight Days a Week” by John Lennon & Paul McCartney. Appeared in the August 2008 Mathematics Teacher (just in time for 8/8/08!).
• “Tessellation” uses the tune of the Kool & the Gang #1 hit “Celebration” to introduce tessellations to younger audiences. Published in the Winter 2013 (Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics) eReflections.
• “Your Body is a Numberland” integrates the wonders of math and the body and may be sung to John Mayer’s #3 hit (“Your Body is a Wonderland”, which won him a Grammy in 2003). The high school students I taught got me to listen to Mayer’s music, which gave me the opportunity to parody a more current hit (my version is more discreet than Mayer’s). Appears in March 2005 Journal of Irreproducible Results.
• “Cantor's Coat” concisely depicts the stark challenges that mathematician faced during his life (lyrics and music written by Lesser). [inspired by reading J. W. Dauben's Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite. Princeton University Press, 1979] Appears in March 1999 Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal.