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Stringing together science, math, and music

Juan Oscar Azaret was born in Cuba, and came to the United States when he was 8 years old.

He grew up in Tennessee and taught himself how to play guitar in his teens.

“There are a lot of pickers in Tennessee,” he said, but he didn’t have access to formal music lessons.

He and his brother played folk and rock ‘n’ roll.

Azaret attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering, and went on to Stanford University for his master’s degree.

When he started his career in his 20s, he said, he “drifted away from the guitar.”


“I came back to it in my late 30s, as a result of my wife cleverly deciding to surprise me with classical guitar lessons,” Azaret said.

He continued studying for years.

“It opened my eyes to a whole different world,” he said. “The depth and beauty of the classical technique is incredible.”

Azaret is a board member of the Boston Classical Guitar Society, which holds monthly get-togethers where members perform.

Playing guitar also resparked his interest in woodworking. Azaret trained as a luthier, someone who makes and repairs instruments, and makes about three guitars a year.

After a 35-year career as an engineer, Azaret, 62, of North Andover began teaching engineering physics at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill two years ago.

Using his own interests as an example, he thinks the worlds of math, science, and music can intersect and students in different disciplines can learn from others’ fields of study.

“Math is a language that allows us to quantify the natural world and what we see around us,” Azaret said. ”Music is a language to express the emotions we have. Both require an ordered kind of thinking. The similarities are there.”


Azaret is presenting a one-night workshop, “Curriculum Crossroads,” at 6:30 p.m. March 9 in the Hartleb Technology Center on Northern Essex’s Haverhill campus. It’s geared to physics, engineering, and music students, and is free and open to the public.

Robert Ward, a professor at Northeastern University and concert musician, will perform classical guitar works. The workshop also explores the science of sound.

Azaret said the evening is an indicator of his own path.

“I want to build classical guitars for as long as I can, and continue teaching engineering,” he said.

“If I can merge the two and make something of it, it will be great. We will see where the future leads.”

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com .