Discovering the Beauty Of Mathematics With Musical Playground Equipment

Wednesday, 8th March 2017 7:13 pm

Musical playground equipment not only helps children to be better readers it also helps them to understand mathematical concepts. Derek Haylock (Educational Consultant and musician) tested a class of nine to ten year olds’ maths attainment and music skills. He found a correlation between mathematical ability and music skills. The main link was the the ability to recognise note length and rhythm pattern. Haylock’s small scale study is similar to the findings of scholars from the University of Auckland, New Zealand who have produced a paper titled, ‘More Than Counting Beats’, which highlights how music and maths are closely related.

Symbols

Musical playground equipment represents the rawness of musical learning because the music played is often quite random and sporadic. Once a structure and focus is added to music symbols can be used to show which percussion instrument is to be played and the volume and duration. Musical notation is used. Children use symbols in maths when making pictograms of favourite pets, food or toys. The use of symbols in maths progresses to complex equations. Familiarity with symbols improves both maths and music skills.

Memory And Recall

Medina in 2002 and Mora in 2000 noted that music aided memory and recall, songs in particular helped children to store and retrieve information. Just think how much children are learning when they are playing musical playground equipment and reciting their tables or the alphabet at the same time. Learning a new song requires rehearsal and practice in the same way that maths facts are learnt.

Sound And Picture Patterns

When we listen to music we hear the pattern, while in maths we see patterns. Musical playground equipment allows children to explore simple patterns that can eventually be represented by symbols. Mathematical patterns usually involve a series of shapes that are placed in a sequence such as square, triangle, circle and repeat. Children are often asked to workout which shape is going to come next by their observation of the shapes that have come before. Melody is very similar as groups of notes are repeated to make a tune. In music children can either identify the note patterns through listening or indeed compose their own note pattern.

The Beauty Of Mathematics

Although many of us would not readily describe mathematics as beautiful – it really is. Every pattern we see and every sound we hear has a mathematical equation attached to it. Mathematician G H Hardy (1877 – 1947) described mathematics like this – “Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.” (Huffington Post). Good music is very much the same. A well composed piece of music will live in our hearts forever. So next time you hear that infernal racket in the playground remember that the children may just be exploring the beauty of maths and music on the musical playground equipment.

Musical Playground Equipment

We have five wonderful pieces of musical playground equipment which can be purchased individually or as a collection. Choose from: drums, xylo-chimes, cow bells, washboard chimes and boom tubes. Musical playground equipment gives children the wonderful opportunity to make connections between sounds and patterns and will be much more open to noticing patterns in maths.

If you would like to encourage your children to become little Mozarts or Einsteins and would like to invest in musical playground equipment, please contact us and we would be delighted to give you advice.