Musical Math

Music is mathematical. Its rhythms, melodies, beats, and tempos are built on mathematical patterns and sequences. With the help of Resident Artist Leah Hennessy, first graders have been exploring the relationship between math and music by learning about musical notations—whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. First, students learn to name and recognize each type of note and to match it with its value (number of beats). Then they practice adding and subtracting with musical notations.
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2 + 1 + 2  = 5

Finally, students show they had mastered the concept by creating their own equations with musical notations for their partners to solve.

“When framed within the context of the math lesson, students learn to associate note shapes with numbers right from the start. They understand that bigger numbers are equivalent to longer sounds. In this way, they not only practice addition and subtraction, but reading rhythms in orchestra,” explains Ms. Hennessy.

Adding and subtracting with musical notations “captivated first graders in a different way than the usual math lesson because it was connected to something they care deeply about—music,” observed 1st-grade teaching assistant Alison Babb-Brott.”

Parents, ask your first graders to give you a challenge and make a musical math equation for you to solve!