Lessons & Materials

In this Unit of Math & Music activities, our goal is to help you the teacher engage and develop your students’ initially implicit knowledge of music and its inherent mathematics. Rather than giving up their active know-how, students will learn in the service of developing and better understanding the mathematics that contribute to the organization of music.

Most music/mathematical relationships involve the mathematics of proportion, ratio, and common multiples. These also happen to be concepts that are often problematic for 4-5-6th grade children. We suggest here that the interactive computer music program, Impromptu, can become a mediator in helping students understand these important concepts by actually hearing the math happening.

The activities we have developed in this mini-unit will provide opportunities for you and your students to develop and explore assumptions, intuitions and understandings regarding the mathematics inherent in music. There are both activities for you to explore these materials and for you to share with your students. We hope you will incorporate these activities into your lessons and/or use them as enrichment activities to help your students connect math concepts to their own experiences.  In this way we hope that math class will be awakened by the sounds of music with a particular emphasis in this case on the rhythmic aspects of music.

At this point you will want to download Impromptu to explore its features. Please watch our brief Tutorial on downloading Impromptu.  Then to download Impromptu, click here.

Check out the following links for exploring the Mathematics in Music:

Finding the Math in Music – Teacher Activity ⇒ Student Activity
Making Simple Ratios  – Teacher Activity  ⇒ Student Activity
Making Complex Ratios – Teacher ActivityStudent Activity
Composing an Accompaniment – Teacher Activity ⇒ Student Activity