Finding the Math in Music (Activity for Students)

Can You Find the Beat in the Music?

Goals of this Activity: In this listening activities students will engage in Pattern Recognition and describing what they are hearing; Through the various movement activity students will be hearing, seeing and creating Ratio’s that exist in the Rhythm of these musical compositions

Common Core: Analyzing patterns and relationships (operations and algebraic thinking); Use equivalent Fractions

Listen to the two pieces of music be:low.  Can you find ,a steady beat to clap along with the music?  Listen more closely and see if you can find and keep time to a slower beat that also fits with the music. And can you also clap a faster beat that fits?

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 1 is a picture of those three beat levelsListen to the march several times while you follow Figure 1.

The space between lines at each level shows the relative time between claps—space mirrors time.

Movement Activity: Divide your class into three teams, red, blue and green forming three lines.  While listening to either of the above pieces:

  1. ask the blue team to march in place to the basic beat they are hearing.
  2. Have your red team stomp their foot to a beat that is twice as slow as the blue teams.
  3. Then ask the green team to clap to the beat that is twice as fast as the blue team’s beat.

Questions to Ask: After each of the following questions ask the students to describe how they came up with their answer.

  1. How many blue beat go with every red beat? 
  2. How many green beats go with every blue beat?
  3. How many green beats go with every red beat?
  4. What do you think the proportional relationship is between the blue and red beat?
  5. What do you think the proportional relationship is between the green and blue beats?

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 3.22.18 PM.png

Additional Activity:

Pen Tapping: Pen tapping is a simple way for students to make music.  Of course this is not something they should be doing in all their classes, but check out the following information on this fun way of making music and see if your students can come up with a rhythmic accompaniment to the above pieces of music or another piece of their choosing that demonstrates the ratio they have uncovered in the movement activity.

Pen Tapping Video

A How to Guide to Pen Tapping