Music and maths are often seen as a different, if not completely opposing, sets of skills. Music may be seen as artistic and creative, whereas maths is logical and analytical. Therefore, some people describe these disciplines as using ‘different sides of the brain’.
Interestingly, however, the two have more in common than the traditional split between art and science would suggest. In early childhood education, using music in maths can create fun and energetic ways to participate in classroom learning and can be an effective supplementary tool to form foundational mathematical skills.
Furthermore, children already know and love music so by using music in maths lessons, a child is going to be at ease, interested and engaged; three key factors in effective learning.
It begins with rhythm
Often one of the first ways children learn to count is through rhythm. They might clap their hands together to the beat or move in time to music. In the beginning they may not be perfectly in sync, but as young learners are particularly responsive to learning by repetition, using a reoccurring rhythm paired with a melody can help them learn faster. Asking children to tap their foot or clap their hands at certain intervals while listening to a song is also a great way to make them understand the concept of a quarter, a half and how these parts make up a whole.
It builds with patterns
A song is made up of different components that form patterns. There are verses and choruses, and often a bridge.
Kids almost instinctively learn what these are, and can even begin to anticipate them, which reinforces sequences. Kids also love to play with tempo, which teaches them the concept of things increasing and decreasing within a reoccurring set beat.
This concept can be extended to an introduction to fractions, by teaching how each piece of music is divided into rhythms where each rhythm is divided into measures.
It expands with potential
Once your students have a handle on simpler concepts, you can use music to grow understanding in more complex mathematical challenges.
After using music to teach addition, subtraction and fractions, the use of musical symbols can help prepare foundations for later concepts like calculus and trigonometry.
In recognition of the power of the role of music in learning maths for primary aged children, ORIGO Education has released Big Book Tools and Tunes to complement the already popular F–2 Big Books series.
There are 36 tracks – a song for every title in the series. The series is also supported by teacher’s notes, which offer a wide range of activities to help you reinforce and extend on new learning. To find out more and purchase online, go to ORIGO Big Book Tunes.