Guitarist Composes Music to Learn Calculus by

ATEC Project Makes Student’s Composition an Integral Part of Math Video Game

Can music soothe your soul, or at least ease the pain of calculus? Eddie Healy thinks so.

Eddie Healy is a doctoral humanities student at UT Dallas, where he also teaches.

The doctoral humanities student has composed the score for a video game being developed by UT Dallas Arts and Technology (ATEC) students.

Spearheaded by Assistant Professor Monica Evans, the game designers sought guitar music for their latest game, “The Digital Calculus Coach.” After hearing Healy play at a school concert, Evans knew she had found her musician.

Healy received his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance at the University of North Texas. He then completed a master of music degree at Southern Methodist University. He was awarded a scholarship from the Dallas Federation of Music Clubs, and was the recipient of the Alice Jones-Berding scholarship in 1995. Even with all this experience, Dr. Evans’ request was uncharted territory.

Healy says, “I have been asked to compose wedding music, a piece to honor the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a podcast theme by the UT Dallas Communications department, and even a middle school alma mater. But this was a first for me.”

Evans and her team wanted the music to bolster the fun, whimsical character they intended for the educational game. Despite the fact that most of Healy’s academic and professional experience had been in classical guitar, he also drew on his limited exposure to jazz music to ensure that the game remain both educational and fun. He set the music for two guitars and recorded it last week with an ATEC engineer.

“For ‘Digital Calculus Coach’ to be successful, the game world needs to be as engaging as possible,” Evans said.  “One of our goals was to include dynamic, inspiring, and memorable music, rather than making yet another simple, forgettable loop of techno-inspired sounds. What Eddie has done for us is make our game aurally stand out, and bring the game world to life with hummable themes – there isn’t an educational game out there that sounds like ours.”

Healy admits the ATEC team has spoken to him about composing for future projects, and he is excited about stretching his compositional legs in the gaming industry.  “I teach music at several different institutions (UT Dallas, Eastfield College, the  Collin County Community College District and the Gray School of Music), and I want to keep teaching, playing and composing music.”