Contemporary research highlights the value of integrating Maths education with Music to engage students’ learning. Michael E. Martinez et al. (2005) discovered that 80 percent of the benefits of Maths and Music integration is achieved through the increased engagement that music brings to the learning experience. While research on teacher self-efficacy highlights teachers’ lack of fundamental skills as one of the main reasons for excluding music from their teaching timetable, the activities below require no musical training and are easy to implement into your teaching repertoire.
Year 2: Patterns and Algebra
Maths – Describe patterns with numbers and identify missing elements (ACMNA035)
Music – Create compositions and perform music to communicate ideas to an audience (ACAMUM082)
Working with patterns promotes students’ thinking and reasoning skills, through the analysis of a pattern to discover its rule (students should communicate the rule in words or pictures), and then predict what should come next in the pattern. Students can then translate the pattern by continuing the same rule using a new method of expression. For example:
Student A performs a pattern using body percussion: one-two-one-one. The student performs the ones as stomps and the twos as hand claps. In music education this would involve crotchets and quavers (rhythm), or if performed using the natural rhythm of words, “here is my pat-tern”
Student B could repeat the pattern using movement as the expressive device: Arms extended to the ceiling, step step, arms extended to the ceiling x2
Extension: Ask students to use symbols that accurately represent the patterns they created and performed to their peers.
Year 3: Patterns and Algebra
Maths – Describe, continue, and create number patterns resulting from performing addition or subtraction (ACMNA060)
Music – Develop aural skills by exploring, imitating and recognising elements of music including dynamics, pitch and rhythm patterns (ACAMUM084)
Teach students a chant using echo technique. Tip: always begin by having students perform the beat using body percussion or movement (e.g. clapping or walking around the room to the beat).
Jack in the box was
Still as a mouse shhh
Next, ask students to clap the rhythm of the words and identify the many beats in the chant (answer: 8). Next, students identify and highlight the words that represent a beat or that divide the beat into two even halves. Next, ask students to identify the pattern of sounds in relation to how they dived the beat. In this chant, we have the pattern: one-two-one-one, one-two-one-one.
Once students are familiar with the concepts identified above, ask them if there is a repeating pattern within the chant (answer yes: the pattern one-two-one-one repeats on the second line). Students are then organised into pairs and are asked to create a body percussion pattern that expresses the pattern identified in the previous step (e.g. stomp, clap-clap, stomp, stomp). Once students are comfortable performing their body percussion work, ask them to repeat the pattern as highlighted in the chant.
Next, ask pairs to create their own pattern using a different number sequence, then repeat the pattern. Pairs are then combined to form groups of 4, and are asked to teach their pattern to another pair. Students then combined their patterns to form a larger work.
To conclude the lesson, the audience is asked to describe the patterns they hear in the student performances, using either words, numbers, or symbols to represent them. Groups may need to perform their compositions a number of times, and if required, slow them down to support the students’ notation of the pattern being performed.
Michael E. Martinez, M. P., Mark Bodner, Andrew Coulson, Sydni Vuong, Wenjie Hu, Tina Earl, Jill S. Hansen and Gordon L. Shaw. (2005). Music Training and Mathematics Achievement: A Multi-Year, Iterative Project Designed to Enhance Student Learning. Paper presented at the Paper Presented at the Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association.