Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, April 22, 2013

Drumming to the Beat of Real-World Math

When students ask, ""Why do I need math? I'm going to be a musician!" you can introduce them to world-renowned drummer Ndugu Chancler. This six-minute movie contains amazing drumming, a breakdown of the mathematics of rhythm and a professional musician's opinion on technology and creativity.

Watch the movie and download the classroom activity from the Futures Channel here:

With Excel Math, students learn to develop a love for and proficiency in mathematics. Now that new state and national standards place more emphasis on mathematical practices, helping students see the connection between math and the real world takes on added importance. In Excel Math lessons, students are given hands-on experience using math to accomplish workplace and everyday household tasks. To read glowing reports about Excel Math from the teachers who use it visit

Pianists, guitar players, vocalists and other musicians (not just drummers) spend much of their practice time devoted to perfecting their rhythm skills. And musical rhythm involves mathematical equations and equivalent fractions:

For more on equivalent representations of fractions in music and math, take a look at our previous blog post:

Sound waves can be described by mathematical equations, the pitch of a person's voice is determined by the resonant frequency of his vocal folds (about 125Hz in an adult male), and strings on musical instruments vibrate at precise frequencies. Mathematics and music are intricately intertwined. 
"There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres." — Pythagoras
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is credited with discovering the relationship between mathematics and musical sound. The intervals between harmonious musical notes always have whole number ratios. So playing half a length of a guitar or violin string gives the same note as the open string, an octave higher. A third of the string length gives a harmonious note a fourth higher. However, non-whole number ratios form dissonant sounds. Watch a video about the relationship between math and music featuring jazz legend Wynton Marsalis:

The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California houses a collection of musical instruments dating from the 1890s to today. The museum explores how and why instruments develop, who makes them and the sounds they make. The permanent display includes hundreds of vintage instruments, audio and video clips, and a hands-on interactive area where you can try out some of the instruments. Through September, the museum will spotlight the harp with an exhibition called, “The Harp: A Global Story of Man, Music and Medicine.” Read more and find out about this weekend's harp concert featuring talented San Diego harpists:

What resources do you use to help your students see the connection between music and math? Leave a response in the comments box below.

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