New paper: “Amino Acid Jazz”

I’m excited that a paper of mine (with colleague Katie Davis) has just been published on the website of the Journal of Chemical Education. The title is Amino Acid Jazz: Amplifying Biochemistry Concepts with Content-Rich Music. Here is the abstract:

Music is not typically used in teaching high school- and college-level chemistry. This may be attributable to instructors’ perceptions of educational music as being solely for memorization, their uncertainty about how to incorporate music effectively, or because of a limited number of suitable songs in which the music and words reinforce each other. To address these issues by way of a biochemistry example, we created Amino Acid Jazz, a sing-along exercise in which students synthesize a musical polypeptide from amino acid building blocks. Along the way, musical elements indicate key points about protein chemistry and structure. This exercise is an example of how the music of a song can amplify (rather than distract from) the content of the lyrics, and can thus promote knowledge acquisition that goes beyond rote memorization. Furthermore, it may be extended to incorporate students’ own creative ideas. Most initial feedback from students and other teachers has been positive

If anyone wants a PDF of the full paper and/or a MP3 of a live demo, just email me ( It is light on assessment data, but I think the general approach is explained in a compelling fashion (if I do say so myself).

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