Welcome back and Happy New Year! I hope you had a much deserved time of relaxation and celebration with family and friends!
With the beginning of the new year comes a new book study. As a fan of the mathematical connections to music my new book study is one I have really been looking forward to getting into. I will be sharing clips, thoughts and ideas from The Music of Pythagoras, How an Ancient Brotherhood Cracked the Code of the Universe and Lit the Path from Antiquity to Outer Space by Kitty Ferguson.
Often we simply associate Pythagoras to the origin of what is known as the Pythagorean theorem or the relation of sides of a right triangle, but Pythagoras and his colleagues developed far more ideas than that through their ability to see patterns within nature itself. Pythagoras and his followers believed that all things in nature could be explained with numbers.
“While experimenting with lyres and considering why some combinations of string lengths produced beautiful sounds and others did not, Pythagoras, or others who were encouraged and inspired by him, discovered that the connections between lyre string lengths and human ears are not arbitrary or accidental. The ratios that underlie musical harmony make sense in a remarkably simple way. In a flash of extraordinary clarity, the Pythagoreans found that there is pattern and order hidden behind the apparent variety and confusion of nature, and that it is possible to understand it through numbers. Tradition has it that, literally and figuratively, they fell to their knees upon discovering that the universe is rational.” (Ferguson, K., 2008, p. 5-6).
During the 1600s mathematicians considered music to be a mathematical science (Field, 2003). Since then, significant historical events have influenced and had lasting effects on educational trends. Over time, music and math became separate areas of study and as such acquired differing levels of cultural and societal value, establishing a gap between the topics that only grew wider as society became industrialized. In North America, it is my opinion that this growing gap between math and music continues today.
When I think about Pythagoras and the early mathematicians’ philosophies, I wonder what would happen if we took the same approach today and considered math and music to be a part of each other rather than viewing them as separate areas of study? I have often seen a music class get sacrificed because a teacher needed more time for students to get caught up on math or science, or because there were exams that were needing to be completed, etc. However, a Pythagorean perspective might suggest that reducing music study to accommodate more mathematical learning is counterproductive. Indeed there has been much research produced since Pythagorean times that shows students who study music tend to be more successful in math and other subjects than those who don’t study music. So what would happen if in our schools we held to a belief that time spent learning music was at least one significant key to students doing better in math, science, reading, testing, etc.? If we held to that belief, would we not cherish every opportunity for our students to learn music? Would we look for other ways to support the needs in math other than reducing time for music classes? What would happen to your classroom of students if their music education became a priority? How would it impact their learning in math and reading? How would it impact the time you spend catching up, reviewing, or reteaching mathematical concepts? How would it impact student engagement in the study of math? Would students find math to be more meaningful, perhaps even easier when connected to music?Music education in Saskatchewan is a core requirement as part of the Arts Education curriculum from Kindergarten to grade 9. Does your class schedule reflect the meeting of this requirement? Do your students have opportunity to learn and reinforce mathematical concepts through music and vice versa? Do you sacrifice music education to spend more time on other subjects? If so, are you willing to start using your music class time to support student learning needs in other subjects instead?
Ferguson, K. (2008). The Music of Pythagoras. New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc.).
Field, J. V. (2003). Musical cosmology: Kepler and his readers. In J. Fauvel, R. Flood, & R. Wilson (Eds.), Music and Mathematics (pp. 29-44). New York: Oxford University Press.)
Student Music Conference Announcement…
What: A music conference for exploring and learning music through performance, technology, composition, and improvisation.
Who: The conference will be open to PSSD students in grades 7-12
When: March 19th & 20th – Students are welcome to attend either on one of the two days or on both days
Where: Cedar Lodge on Blackstrap Lake, a few minutes south of Saskatoon
More details: TBA
Kendra’s Road Trip Schedule:
Monday, Jan. 5 – DO all day
Tuesday, Jan. 6 – Sick
Wednesday, Jan. 7 – Colonsay AM, DO PM
Thursday, Jan. 8 – DO all day
Friday, Jan. 9 – SCP AM, DO PM
Monday, Jan. 12 –
Tuesday, Jan. 13 –
Wednesday, Jan. 14 – Colonsay AM,
Thursday, Jan. 15 – , Blaine Lake PM
Friday, Jan. 16 – SCP AM, Blaine Lake PM
Monday, Jan. 19 –
Tuesday, Jan. 20 –
Wednesday, Jan. 21 – Colonsay AM,
Thursday, Jan. 22 -Blaine Lake all day
Friday, Jan. 23 –