How does learning music help learning Maths?


The positive impact of music on academic learning

The benefits of music education in primary day care are widely acknowledged. The positive impact it has on the academic environment, especially on Maths development, has been proved through well-established and accepted scientific research.


Research suggests that music impacts on a person’s ability to “do” Maths. Most of the research suggests that early music tuition improves a childs Maths skills significantly. Even Einstein himself said that his great love of music was extraordinarily helpful to him in his work!!


There is no specific music that is going to do this as it is important to remember that it is the aspects of music that create the positive affect, not the music itself.


The Mathematical learning benefits are created by:

  • the similarity of rhythms and patterns
  • the ability to decode notes and symbols.


The links and similarities between music and Maths include numbers, patterns, proportions, measurement, geometry and ratios (to name just a few).


The greatest positive learning comes from classical music as the rhythms can be simple or complex and repeat themselves within a piece of music. If your child is not keen on listening to classical music, simply playing musical games and listening to a variety of music will both bring positive learning benefits.




Making music brings longer term learning benefits

Simply listening to music brings learning benefits but these are not as long term as when a child actively engages in making music.


Research shows that the spatial reasoning gains from making music can extend over months or even years. Studies of younger children suggest that gains in Maths ability increase according to the number of years that a child engages in active music tuition. It is also believed that the younger the child is when they begin learning music, the greater the gains will be.


In addition to the clear benefits music education has on mathematic development, learning music brings many other benefits. Music supports the development of key skills such as listening, patience, fine motor skills, social skills, rhyme, a chance to learn about other cultures and to problem solve.


Learning a musical instrument as a child is also a great way to involve them in social groups and provide them a life-time of pleasure making music. Even babies and toddlers are able to shake a tambourine!


Is every musician a great Mathematician?

It is important to remember that not all musicians will become mathematicians and vice versa. Many musicians see no relevance in linking the patterns that occur in their music to Maths. More often than not, musicians are inclined to practice music because of their love of music without being aware of the Maths that is involved.


"The musician should find in mathematics a study as useful to him as the learning of another language is to a poet. Mathematics swims seductively just below the surface."  Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer.


Jane at The Brisith School of Rock in Surrey is passionate about how music can help children. Jane says "At our classes, children are coached to play in bands which brings in even more aspects of maths with timing and patterns between different instruments. The children don't realise it - they are just having fun""



The learning benefits are derived from the way the brain works.

“As you listen to music or make music, certain neurons in the cortex (where most of the information processing takes place) of your brain start firing. The pathways created are the same pathways that are used when you complete complex spatial reasoning tasks. The more of these pathways that are forged and the more they are in use, the stronger the connections become. Strong connections lead to easier access, which translates into better skills”.
ABC Music and me

To find out more you can read the report ‘The impact of music on mathematical achievement’. This is a report laying out research highlighting the benefits in learning music.


It may also be of interest to look at the Mozart effect experiment. Although this report is somewhat controversial it is interesting and shows the benefits of listening to music.



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