Music and mathematics are two sides of the same coin. While it’s only in recent years that scientific studies have shown how music can help children understand and remember mathematical concepts better, this relationship between music and mathematics is one that has existed for centuries.
So, let’s time travel back to Ancient Greece to understand how our child’s mathematical skills’ development can benefit from learning a musical instrument.
Music, Mathematics, and Ancient Greece
Music was a part of the Greek’s everyday life – from ceremonies to funerals. The Greeks believed that music, mathematics, and the cosmos are all intertwined, and that understanding any one of those three could help people be better citizens and human beings. One such Greek was Pythagoras.
Pythagoras, probably best known for his ‘Pythagoras Theorem’, was perhaps one of the first to study the phenomena of music as a science when he discovered that the sound created by the hammer of a blacksmith hitting the anvil changed according to the weight of the metal.
His study of music was mainly based on the underlying mathematical patterns that led to the development of musical concepts such as scales and harmony. Pythagoras proved that music in its very essence is mathematical. So, simply understanding music can help anybody understand math better.
Scientific Studies establishing the link between Music and Math
Recent scientific studies have only confirmed what the Greeks have known for centuries. For instance, the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Development found that music can enhance mental capabilities significantly, enabling better memory and learning ability. These benefits can directly impact how children learn mathematics and other subjects as well.
Another way music can help children is through learning through musical activities. An interesting experiment that demonstrates the benefits of learning music compared two groups of children learning maths. One group was taught math with musical activities while the other was taught without music. The researchers found that the children taught with music could recollect the teachings in detail, with some not even realising the music was a part of the lesson.
Some studies have also found that musicians also benefit from an above-average ability in problem-solving, an essential part of mathematics. While most activities require children to only use one side of their brain, learning and playing music requires children to use both sides, which can help children learn mathematics better.
Our Final Word
Ultimately, the effect that learning music has on one’s development of mathematical skills is closely tied to two main factors. First, as mentioned earlier in this article, understanding the theory behind what makes music and musical instruments work is built on mathematical patterns. Therefore, understanding how those mathematical patterns in music work provide a seamless segue into understanding mathematics as a whole. Secondly, the contribution of learning an instrument has an array of cognitive benefits such as better concentration, increased coordination, as well as improved memory, all of which can help in academics in general..