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Math teacher taps into tunes with Kickstarter campaign

Tigard math teacher hopes crowdfunding will take music project to next level

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Dave Whitcher, who teaches math at Twality Middle School, is raising money to transform his songwriting hobby into something more. Whitcher is known for his MegaMath songs, which teach kids about math terminologyDave Whitcher is not a great singer, or so the Twality Middle School teacher says in his online video.

He sees himself as more of a songwriter.

For years, Whitcher has brought his guitar into the classroom helping students remember complex mathematical formulas though song.

He has released four albums under the name MegaMath, penning songs about the Pythagorean theorem and the proper way to find probabilities and ratios.

“I think music is an important part of education,” Whitcher said. “That’s how we learn from a young age.”

But Whitcher has bigger dreams than singing to his students. He is plagued with song ideas, he said.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “Ideas are always popping into my head. I am always hearing tunes in my head or musical phrases. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but if I didn’t have the songs, it would drive me crazy.”

On July 2, he launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, hoping to take his musical stylings to the next level.

Whitcher is hoping to raise $6,700 by the end of the month, which will go toward hiring musicians and engineers to professionally produce the songs.

“We need a vocalist, a drummer and studio time,” he said. “That adds up pretty fast.”

Last year, Whitcher took some of the non-educational songs he recorded over the years and put them up for sale online under the name “The Best Songs You'll Never Hear,” which he hopes to re-release with professional musicians performing.

“I want to pick two songs from (that album) and find voices and artists,” Whitcher said. “To be honest, I am not a great singer, and anyone who listens to me knows that, but they are too polite to tell me.”

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To donate to the kickstarter, click here

For more information about Whitcher, his songwriting and MegaMath, visit davewhitcher.bandcamp.com.

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Whitcher said the campaign is a platform to share his songs with a wider audience than his classroom.

“I want to use them as a vehicle to find an agent or someone who can visualize it when it is performed well,” Whitcher said. “I think people have trouble making the leap from listening to me and seeing a song’s potential.”

More and more people are turning to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter to get their projects off the ground.

More than 160,000 projects have been launched on Kickstarter since its launch in 2009.

Nearly 57 percent of all Kickstarter projects fail, though those numbers are better for music projects (where more than half succeed in receiving funding, according to Kickstarter’s statistics).

Unlike other crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing venture. If a project doesn’t receive full funding by the end of its campaign, the project receives nothing.

Whitcher said despite the risks, it’s better to give it a shot.

“These are good songs, but they are not going to go anywhere with just me singing them.”

As of The Times’ press deadline on Wednesday, Whitcher had raised a quarter of his $6,700 goal with two weeks to go.

But while Whitcher said he’d love to become a professional songwriter, he could never stop teaching.

“Being a math teacher is my dream job, and I have no intention of leaving that,” he said. “It’s a very meaningful and important job, and I really value my ability to do what I do.

“I love my music,” Whitcher added. “If I can get that Elton John - Bernie Taupin relationship going and find someone who can use my songs, that’s where I see myself. But it’s a hard nut to crack.”

Whitcher’s campaign ends Aug. 1.

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