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S. Alex Ruthmann

Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Technology & Associate Professor of Interactive Media and Business

Music and Performing Arts Professions


S. Alex Ruthmann is Area Head and Associate Professor of Interactive Media and Business at NYU Shanghai, and Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at NYU Steinhardt (dual appointment). He is the Founder/Director of the NYU Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab), and core faculty in the Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL) at NYU Steinhardt. He also serves as an affiliate faculty member in the NYU Shanghai Program on Creativity and Innovation and the Educational Communication Technology/Digital Media Design for Learning Program in NYU Steinhardt.

The MusEDLab research team researches and designs new technologies and experiences for music-making, learning, and engagement together with industry and community partners including the New York Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Traditional Chinese Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Yungu School, Portfolio School, Tinkamo, UNESCO, Peer 2 Peer University, League of American Orchestras, and the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. He and his Lab collaborators are the recipients of major National Endowment for the Arts and National Science Foundation grants exploring innovation and entrepreneurship in the arts, the interdisciplinary teaching of computational and musical thinking, arts and educational product commercialization strategies, and creative learning through music and media education technologies.

Ruthmann's current research centers on the launch of a new research lab focused on researching sustainable entrepreneurship practices in classical music training programs in collaboration with the New World Symphony. This work is funded by a recent 5-year award from the National Endowment of the Arts. Ruthmann's research portfolio also includes collaborations with colleagues in Norway on a project titled Building Sustainable Digital Practices in Kindergarten Literacy and Arts Programmes (DigiSus). DigiSus is a participatory design research project focused on the design and development of interactive arts spaces infused with non-screen-based digital technologies for creative play, music-making, design, and story creation. Working with colleagues in Finland on the Notio Project, Ruthmann is researching new approaches to the teaching of music theorizing with students, educators, and researchers in Finnish high schools and universities through songwriting and interactive technologies. Through the NYU Creative Experience Design Lab (CXD Lab) at NYU Shanghai, Ruthmann recently launched a research group focused on creative learning in China. The CXD Lab hosts regular meetups, and collaborates with educational and cultural institutions in China, as well as creative technology startups focused on education, the arts, coding, and AI.

Since launching in 2013, the MusEDLab creative learning and software projects are in active use by over 7,000,000 people in over 150 countries across the world and include the aQWERTYonGroove, and Music Playgrounds, among others. The Groove Pizza app recently crossed the milestone of 6,000,000 original grooves created since launch in 2016. In 2018, the MusEDLab opened a branch at NYU's Shanghai campus as part of the Program on Creativity and Innovation. The MusEDLab is a collaborative of over 25 NYU students and program affiliates in New York City and Shanghai.

Ruthmann currently serves as Co-Editor of the International Journal of Music Education and is co-author of the book Scratch Music Projects, an introduction to creative music and AI coding projects using MIT's Scratch. He serves as a member of the editorial/advisory boards of the British Journal of Music EducationJournal of Popular Music EducationResearch Studies in Music Education, and the Journal of Music and Meaning. Ruthmann recently co-edited major research handbooks including the Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education (to be translated into Mandarin in 2024), and the Routledge Companion to Music, Technology and EducationIn prior years he has served as President of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, Chair of the Creativity special research interest group of the Society for Research in Music Education, Co-Editor and Managing Editor of the International Journal of Education & the Arts, Associate Editor of the Journal of Music, Technology, and Education, and Program Director for Music Education at NYU Steinhardt. Ruthmann received an interdisciplinary B.Mus. degree from the University of Michigan in Music and Technology, and M.Mus. and Ph.D. degrees in Music Education (cognate in Educational Leadership) from Oakland University. 

Selected Publications


Music Technology

Develop your expertise in an academic program that emphasizes creative experimentation and the integration of musical and technical skills.

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Music Education

Prepare to become a music educator in school, international, studio, and community settings as you develop your artistic and instructional skills in NYC.

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Colloquy in Music Education (Thesis Requirement)

Master’s thesis preparation and presentation class taken for two semesters. First semester students research topics in music education, create an annotated bibliography, complete human subjects ethics training, and prepare a capstone project proposal. Second semester students complete a capstone research project based on reflective practice inquiry and creation methods. Focus on academic writing, research methods, use testing with learners, data analysis, oral presentation techniques. Guest presentations about published papers and theses.
Course #
Music and Performing Arts Professions