Music and Math
In this lesson, students will analyze the relationship between math and music. They will add eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes to find the number of beats per measure.
- Identify and describe eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes.
- Add notes to find the number of beats per measure.
- Generate addition math problems using note values.
- Understand the meaning of counting and note values when reading or singing music.
National Core Arts Standards
Common Core State Standards
MATH.CONTENT.3.MD.B.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters.
MATH.CONTENT.4.MD.B.4 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret the difference in length between the longest and shortest specimens in an insect collection.
MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.B.2 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots.
Students should have familiarity with note values. Teachers can refer to the lesson, Note Values, to pre-teach note value concepts. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson. Students with disabilities may benefit from Adaptive Movements in this lesson.
- Interactive board, chart paper, scissors, pencils
- Notes to Beats
- Math & Music Exit Ticket
- PRESENTATION: Math & Music Presentation
- VIDEOS: “Sweet Georgia Brown”
- Play the song “Sweet Georgia Brown” on slide 3 of the presentation, Math & Music. Ask: What connection do you think this song has to math? Allow time for students to respond and make connections.
- Introduce the students to the concept of math and music. Display the image on slide 4 of the presentation, Math & Music. Ask students to analyze the “Math and Music” image and discuss the connections between note values and math.
- Review the four basic note values with students: whole note, half note, quarter note, and eighth note. Display the images on slides 5, 6, and 7 of the presentation, Math & Music. Ask: What do we know about math to help us understand the musical note values? Allow students time to “turn and talk” to a peer and discuss the connections.
- Model for students how to add the value of musical notes to find the number of beats. Use the sample addition problems on slide 8 of the presentation, Math & Music. Demonstrate how to add a half note to a quarter note. Show students how the sum of these notes equals three beats.
- Walk students through the process: identify the value of each note, use addition strategies find the sum of all the notes, then use the note value chart to check your answer. Take time to work through a few problems together on slide 9 of the presentation, Math & Music.
- Divide students into pairs. Distribute the sorting activity, Notes to Beats. Have students work collaboratively to sort the note values with the number of beats. Facilitate through the groups to provide further reinforcement of the concept. Display slide 7 of the presentation, Math & Music, so students can use the “Note and Beats” chart as a reference.
- Bring students together to share what they learned. Review the sort by having student volunteers explain a note value pairing to a beats card. Allow time for students to ask clarifying questions.
- Tell students they are going to generate their own note value addition problems up to four beats. Have students work in pairs to create their own problems and include the answers to problems. Display slide 7 of the presentation, Math & Music, so students can use the “Notes to Beats” chart as a reference.
- Have students demonstrate for the class a problem they created. Ask students to explain how they added the notes to find the beats.
- Assess students’ knowledge of adding note values with the Math & Music Exit Ticket and answer the following writing prompt: How can mathematical concepts be applied to music concepts?
- CHALLENGE: Have students use their knowledge of adding note values to compare values. Model for students how to apply comparison strategies (greater than, less than, or equal to) to deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts and music.
Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.
© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
Louis Ford, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Producer
Meredith Sharpe, Adaptations Writer
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