Combining Math, Music Study Boost Student Test Scores

A half century of research went into drawing this conclusion
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2023 11:00 AM CDT
Want Better Math Students? Add Music to Lessons
   (Getty Images / Brian A. Jackson)

Jazz great Duke Ellington once said music "is as modern as tomorrow" and "endless as ... mathematics." Scientists who combed through 50 years of research might tell the Duke he was onto something. While past research had noted the connection between musical inclination and math ability, a new study in Educational Studies looked at whether incorporating music into math lessons could improve a student's mathematical ability. The answer appears to be yes, according to Ayça Akin of Turkey's Antalya Belek University. Akin combed through academic studies conducted over nearly 50 years and found that any use of music in association with learning math ended up helping, per

The most significant improvement in math learning happened when combining music and math in a single activity. That could be anything from "rhythmic clapping while learning numbers and fractions to designing musical instruments using mathematical concepts," per the Helsinki Times. Akin suggests math and music teachers might even plan lessons together. The study examined results from 77,595 total participants, from kindergarten to college students, and 245 research studies.

"Arithmetic may lend itself particularly well to being taught through music because core concepts, such as fractions and ratios, are also fundamental to music," per "For example, musical notes of different lengths can be represented as fractions and added together to create several bars of music." Akin's findings support the results of similar research such as this study published in 2013, in which researchers from three Texas universities found that how teachers blended music into math lessons to help students various math concepts had a clear and positive effect on several math skills. (More discoveries stories.)

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