There has been a lot of debate about whether learning an instrument can boost your maths skills. Research suggests that both listening to music and playing an instrument can increase your memory and therefore your ability to retain knowledge in other areas.
Music is made up of patterns and sequences that stimulate the brain. One of the big correlations between these two subjects is that they are both made up of patterns. Playing and listening for short patterns in music also helps with a child’s understanding of patterns in maths.
Learning to play a musical instrument is made up of beats, rhythms and scales which help children to understand fractions, ratios and recognizing patterns. Learning scales is one of the first things you learn when taking up an instrument and this is merely a system of reading and learning notation to tell you when to play a specific note.
Learning to play the piano increases the brain functions
It seems that learning to play the piano increases the brain functions used to understand STEM subjects such as maths. In one particular study conducted by Dr. Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw, they found that preschool children who were learning piano scored 34% better in maths and science tests than those children who didn’t learn the piano.
However, it is still unclear as to whether there is a direct relationship between the two subjects. Many people think that the link may have more to do with how you are brought up. If you come from a well-off background, then it is probably more likely that you will attend a good school and go to music lessons.
What is the ‘Mozart effect’?
The ‘Mozart effect’ is widely known as being the concept of listening to music (Mozart’s music in particular) to increase focus while learning. Even though this is widely known there is not enough evidence to back this up.
Incorporating music into the maths classroom is something that may help children understand what they are learning better. Turning the subject into a mnemonic also makes it easier for children to learn concepts that they may be finding difficult.
Did you know that Albert Einstein was also a musician. Einstein was a man whose concepts would have to wait until the 21st century to be proven correct. However, a little-known fact about Einstein is that he played the violin and piano.
By concentrating on the problem at hand (left brain) while playing the piano or violin (right brain), Einstein would have been able to strengthen the communication between the two hemispheres of his brain and increase brainpower. Music was something that inspired him when he was stuck on a certain concept or idea and he went on to become one of the most famous mathematicians of all time.
I think we can all agree that students who commit themselves to learning an instrument may also learn other skills in the process that help them perform better in school. It takes a considerable amount of patience to practice scales, and becoming truly accomplished at playing any instrument – undoubtedly children who apply a similar passion to doing schoolwork will have an advantage over those who don’t.