Feb 9, 2022 | Roslyn

"Music is a secret exercise in the arithmetic of the soul, unaware of its act of counting." 

--Gottfried Leibniz, philosopher and mathematician.


The relationship between music and math goes back thousands of years to the origins of music and civilization. Both rhythm and melody can be understood mathematically.


In one of her recent studies, Frances Rauscher, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, found that the mathematics test scores for preschool-age students increased for those who received instruction in rhythm singing or piano. Also, the students who studied rhythm were found to have the biggest gains. She says, "Rhythm is, after all, 'the subdivision of a beat.' It is about ratios and proportions, the relationship between a part and a whole - all material from math classes." 


Einstein would play the violin when he was stuck on a problem. He would concentrate on the problem at hand, utilizing his left brain, while playing the piano or violin activating his right brain. He strengthened the communication between the two hemispheres of his brain, increasing his brainpower.


How to Integrate Music to build Mathematical Skills 


Music enhances the retention of mathematical knowledge, and incorporating musical activities, can help children make the most out of opportunities to strengthen their basic math skills. There are various ways to get 'the music' into math, we’ve listed a few of them below.


Introducing Music

We know that music is a more effective and entertaining teaching tool. From the day they arrived in this world, children hear lullabies, rhymes, songs on the radio and TV; their tiny ears become familiar with it.


This is why music can be an extremely useful tool in the classroom. In early childhood education, the benefits of music include a boost to skills as varied as vocabulary development, gross-motor skills, empathy, phonemic awareness, active listening, and even early math development.


Musical and Mathematical Patterns

The beat and chorus of a song provide a model for sequences and patterns. Therefore, children can learn to mimic a beat to translate simple patterns by listening and moving. As children begin to understand a tune, they anticipate next. This expectation of future sound opens the door to discovering early math concepts such as sorting orders and categorizing systems. The beginning steps to algebra recognize these mathematical relationships that create patterns and realize that things can change over time.


Math Jingles!

Writing a quick jingle is a great way to encourage the memory of different math concepts. You can use a jingle to memorize multiplication tables, as the melody can help make the information more familiar. You can find a plethora of these jingles online if you don’t want to write your own!


Teach Practical Concepts with Instruments

Once children become more familiar with the similarities of music and math, eventually, they move on to more complex concepts. For example, you can use note dictation to discuss fractions!. Using musical concepts such as whole notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, etc. can help students hear numbers and how they sound relative to the whole. This is a means of familiarizing them with music and math. 


 Another example would be an ascending scale on a keyboard to teach young kids the serial order of numbers. The lower notes are the lower numbers, and the higher notes are the higher numbers. The students then relate the pitch going up and down with the number rising and decreasing. 


In conclusion, math and music are deeply interconnected. Music enhances mathematics skills by targeting a specific part of the brain to stimulate spatial-temporal reasoning, useful in mathematical thinking.


At Mathnasium, we sometimes bring a little music into life to see how the intellect can soar!