Music and maths

(27 Posts)
Meloncita Sat 02-Feb-13 10:59:16

My 4yo DS has a natural interest in both maths and music (he was 'labelled' g&t in maths at nursery and he is around grade 1 standard in piano). I have heard people mention a link between the two, and out of curiosity's sake, just wondered what's people's opinions or experiences of this are?

Seeline Tue 19-Feb-13 15:08:02

Back in the Dark Ages when I did A level physics, it was a group of 12 girls. Whenever there was extra rehearsals for concerts the group would be down to 1 (even the teacher sang in the choir). Most of us did maths too, very few did languages.

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 14:57:10

I know a couple of people who are very musical and very bad at maths.

corinthian Tue 19-Feb-13 14:54:36

Extremely good at mathematics but hopeless at music, here. I did find music theory at school easy however. Couldn't see the point of it though - it was just a set of rules to learn to get marks in an exam so that I could pass because I'd get pretty much zero on all the non-theory parts.

TotallyBS Tue 19-Feb-13 12:12:56

I'm such a flip flopper. Thinking about it a bit more, DS's violin teacher is also a professional performer so obviously very musical. However, she struggles to help her DS prep for 11+ maths.

Schmedz Tue 19-Feb-13 12:01:20

Boredofironing, as a music teacher in a selective school I can assure you there are a number of 'bright' children who are not musical and find it challenging, probably less with the mechanics of music theory, but certainly with musicianship and practical skills. Similarly, some less academic types who excel. Musical intelligence is often linked with academic high achievers, but there are always exceptions!

TotallyBS Tue 19-Feb-13 07:43:57

We never made the connection between maths and music and now languages until this thread.

DS showed an aptitude for music when we put.him into a music is fun type club at 4. He started violin at 5 and left Yr 6 on Grade7. At 7 he was engrossed with Dora the Explorer so we put him into group lesions for Spanish. He was also maths G&T.

So I guess he ticks all the boxes in the OP's observation. It never occurred to me that there was a connection.

supersare Sun 10-Feb-13 17:43:28

This is a fascinating subject.
My mum used to be a maths teacher and is also an excellent piano player.
As Meloncita mentioned her child used to do, when my ds was a toddler he would line up his toy cars/tractors in terms of size. Throughout school he never had any problems with his maths lessons and is now studying maths A'Level at 6th form college. He absolutely adores the subject (he won't admit this publicly however in fear of ruining his street cred) and is hoping to go to uni in September to do a maths degree.
Although he doesn't play any instrument, my ds loves listening to music ( I know this is hardly unique with teenagers) but does have an excellent memory for melodies.
I know this is slightly off topic, but there is also a correlation between being good at football and also having an aptitude for golf, not sure if this is a similar kind of thing as the maths/music link?

TallulahMcFey Sun 10-Feb-13 17:02:52

Also, I know very clever children who excel particularly at maths and sciences who say they are really bad at English but got A or B at GCSE so not really bad at all (my daughter included) but they just mean they didn't get *, so not bad at all. I don't know anyone who was really bad unless they were dyslexic. My friend's husband is an engineer and struggles with reading and dyslexic.

TallulahMcFey Sun 10-Feb-13 16:55:08

Well I think that by the schools definition of gifted and talented they simply mean bright or picks up new concepts easy and that is why I don't like the term. My child is/was bright and was generally good at anything academic (though as I said, shone less at wordy subjects). However, her piano teacher used to say that anyone reasonably bright could get to grade 5 but after that you need to have a natural music ability (I'm not musical and she doesn't come from a musical family). I however, tend to agree that she took to music because she was bright.

boredofironing Sat 09-Feb-13 18:02:58

I want to know if there are many bright children who cannot grasp learning music. Also, if there are any children who are good at maths, but hopeless at English? I think it stands to reason that a 'bright' child will be good at lots of things as they can process and digest the information quickly and successfully.

Disclaimer - I know there are ALWAYS exceptions, but I am talking in a broad sense here.

TallulahMcFey Fri 08-Feb-13 22:46:04

There is a known connection that I have read about (though obviously doesn't apply to everyone). I have always been interested in this because my 18 year old daughter has always been the school/government definition of gifted and talented in maths and music (wasn't grade 1 piano at 4 but plays 4 instruments and 3 of them to grade 8 and passed all her theory papers with a lowest mark of 98%), did GCSE music and got A*, did GCSE maths a year early and got A* followed by A2 maths early and got A. Her piano teacher said to me, when she was 11 and due to start secondary school, that she would be good at languages and she was right and she got A* GCSE Spanish. She was also the same at sciences but less enamoured with wordy subjective subjects like English. Personally though, I would not have called her gifted and talented (she is now at uni with thousands of people as clever as her) but clearly she was one of the top students.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Thu 07-Feb-13 17:37:56

There's not always a link. I know a teenager who plays music at a national level on two different instruments, has won awards, etc. Maths is bordering on special needs with some specific problems and inabilities. Probably an unusual case, though.

hardboiled Wed 06-Feb-13 22:22:03

^Music theory and mathematical strength are very closely linked.
However, musicianship, creativity, interpretation and emotional reaction/expression possibly less so!^

I totally agree. DS good at both music and maths but his friend good at music and not maths...and the difference between them is DS can sight-read (on two instruments which use completely different notations) and friend struggles at sight-reading, although he plays beautifully by memory and ear!

Meloncita Wed 06-Feb-13 21:28:38

Hmm, the plots thickens. I wonder if DS is just too young to know if there is a link or whether it's just a coincidence he has shown such an interest (and ability) in the 2 fields.

Wow Moominmammacat what an amazingly musical family you have! I'm in awe smile

WowOoo at least be grateful it's piano, some instruments take a lot longer to make a bearable noise on. My sister played oboe for a term when she was younger...if you've ever wondered what a constipated duck sounds like I reckon it came pretty close!

WowOoo Colombia Wed 06-Feb-13 16:57:14

Aptitude for maths and rhythm - in my case not connected. Rhythm seems innate and instinctive to me, I really have to focus on maths.

My niece is also very musical but does not pick up maths as quickly. She's excellent at languages though.

It's fascinating, isn't it? Ds1 is on the piano now. I wish he was at grade 1. It's painful grin

Moominmammacat Wed 06-Feb-13 16:51:02

In my limited experience, PhD in music, failed CSE maths, and that of my three DSs, all of whom have a clutch of Grade 8 distinctions + diplomas, there is absolutely no link ... all my boys struggled to get GCSE maths. Possible familial link in being appalling at maths, possible negative conditioning from mother ... but interesting topic.

Meloncita Tue 05-Feb-13 21:10:33

Thanks for your responses everyone, some food for thought, and areas to research when I get the time! I can definitely see the link in terms of patterns and theory...however I still struggle with the idea that having a logical mind is what attracted him to music (as it was very much his choice/interest, personally I would have chosen a cheaper hobby!).

I wonder, do you think having an aptitude for maths is linked to having a good sense of rhythm?

Schmedz Sun 03-Feb-13 19:25:02

Music theory and mathematical strength are very closely linked.
However, musicianship, creativity, interpretation and emotional reaction/expression possibly less so!

anitasmall Sat 02-Feb-13 18:26:29

There are many things in music that are based on maths. I just try to think with my daughter's mind who is 5 and a half is the first in her class from maths (but not G&T) and learns to play the recorder.

Absolute and relative height (Kodaly method), fractions (4/4, 3/4), parallel lines (duet). Take away and addition (if only 3 ta is in the 4/4 bar 1 ta or ta rest is missing). Symmetry ta,titi, titi,ta. Odd and even (2nd, 4th holes on the recorder are in between lines, 3rd and 5th are on the lines) numbers.

I am not neither a musician nor a mathematician however I can name many fields when playing a music instrument can support maths.

ReallyTired England Sat 02-Feb-13 12:00:31

I think that a child who has the concentration span to learn the piano is bound to be extremely bright and good at almost anything.

Its a bit early to give the gifted and talented label at four. My son is reasonably good at both maths and music and I know plenty of other people. Ds is taught ukelede by someone who is also a maths teacher.

projectsrus Sat 02-Feb-13 11:56:09

Only anectodal but my DD1 also very talented in music and very good at maths and interestingly she is excellent at non-verbal/pattern recognition. Also loves both. If anyone has any interesting articles to link to I would also be interested!!! Will also google fibbonacci sequences!!!

noblegiraffe Sat 02-Feb-13 11:53:36

Pythagoras did a lot of work on the mathematics of music (as well as his more famous work on triangles!).

If you listen to Bach, he's very mathematical in the patterns he creates.

MoreBeta Sat 02-Feb-13 11:50:26

Yes music and maths go together and I am also convinced languages too.

I think it is basically a skill in decoding abstract symbols in all these subjects that ties them together.

Meloncita Sat 02-Feb-13 11:44:18

Thank you, very interesting! I suppose, not being musical myself, I thought of music as being creative rather than logical, but the pattern recognition aspect makes sense (as soon as he could crawl DS was pulling pots out of the kitchen cupboards and lining them up in order!). He also became very excited when he discovered broken chords.

I think you are right that the technical aspects of music use the skills of logic and memory, but I would imagine that as a musician progresses they use more of their own interpretation and creative expression, so I wonder how strong the correlation is then? Although as I said, I am not musical so just speculating!

Off to google fibbonacci sequences...confused

SavoirFaire Sat 02-Feb-13 11:22:07

Something here although looking around it seems a bit of a controversial view here.

I was trying to remember what my teacher's PhD was actually about - something to do with sequences and patterns, possibly fibbonacci sequences, I'm not sure. Anyway, my personal opinion is that there is a link, but maybe it isn't neorological - could just be that both require similar skills of logic and memory I suppose, so the brain gets used to doing that kind of stuff.

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