Music and Numeracy

Parents, caregivers and teachers have recognized the benefits of children learning about math through music. Recent research suggests there are common concepts between math and music such as patterns, sequences and counting. Making links between the two is valuable for children. Studies that used brain mapping indicate that learning music develops the same cognitive spatial-temporal part of the brain as mathematics.

Often, we musically engage with mathematics without realizing it. When children clap their hands or move to the rhythm, they are counting without noticing. They also inadvertently learn to distinguish patterns and sequences while learning their favourite songs. Moreover, incorporating music into teaching can bring an element of fun to learning math.

A University of Queensland-led study has shown that music participation at home improves not only numeracy, but also prosocial skills even more than the effects of shared book reading.

The steady beats and rhythms in the music parents and caregivers play or sing for children offer complex patterns. Even patting or rocking an infant to sleep while singing a lullaby enforces musical patterns. Clapping or stomping to a beat teaches counting and a one-to-one correspondence, such as one clap for each syllable. Rhythm can also teach a one-to-one correspondence and allow kids to predict patterns in the music. The melody, or tune, of a song can teach pattern recognition through repetition of lyrics or notes. More advanced musical study can even teach percentages and fractions.

There are many fun ways to introduce math through music. Take a look at the resources we’ve listed below to bring together music and numeracy.


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