Angela April 23, 2021

Can Studying Music Help Your Math Skills?

In a previous blog we discussed the benefits of a music education. Today we discuss the connection between music and math. 

Can learning, or listening to, music really help us to learn math? Can specific musical techniques help our brains decode math problems? 

In his 1991 book, Pourquoi Mozart? Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis introduced the theory that classical music, especially Mozart’s music, “retrained” the ear and in turn, reordered some of the brain’s processes. This became known as the “Mozart Effect” and other researchers rushed to investigate the theory. The research found no conclusive proof that listening to classical music raises your IQ or helping your thinking in the long term. 

If there is no benefit to listening to music, what about learning music? At the basic level, music is ordered by rhythm and pitch, and learning about tone exposes a child to mathematical sequences. Similarly, learning about rhythm helps a child learn to count. She is not counting numbers but she is using logic to count out the rhythms and bars as she works through the piece.  

Consider the study involving third-grade students learning basic fractions. The children were encouraged to clap as they worked through the math problems. The students who learned about fractions through a rhythm-and-music-based curriculum outperformed their peers in traditional math classes.

Here’s why:

Fractions help you divide a measure of music into notes of varying length. For example, one four-beat measure could contain a single whole note held for all four beats, two half notes of two beats apiece, four quarter notes of a beat each, and so on. 

In the study, students clapped, drummed, and chanted to memorize the lengths of musical notes, and then solved problems where fractional notes must add up to a full measure of music.

Sixty-seven students participated in the study. Half did math problems using the musical system. After six weeks, the students in the music program averaged 50 percent higher on tests than the children in regular math class. Fractions create a solid foundation for further math education. 

A music education from The Belinda Brady Arts Academy can greatly improve your child’s math skills, and her overall academic growth. Contact us today to discuss your option.

Written by: Nicole Holas


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