Music is Math at Woodstock!By Woodstock School Mar 08, 2013 5:25PM UTC
When I was a kid in the UK, I dropped Math at the earliest opportunity after scraping a B in my GCSE examination. Last week, I went to my first Math lesson in about 20 years, and I really enjoyed it!
One of the joys of working in the communications department at Woodstock School is that I have a free rein to drop into lessons now and then to see what’s going on. It’s great fun going back into the classroom and seeing some of the many interesting and innovative teaching techniques that are being used. Lessons here seem so much more fun than my school experience in the UK!
In the lesson I went to Math teacher Zach Conrad was teaching the class about sound waves, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, band teacher Lindsay Boyd was there with her French horn, as well as choir teacher Abe Okie. But actually this “cross fertilisation” of the Math and Music department made perfect sense. There are many scientific and mathematical aspects to music, and I soon discovered Music is Math in many ways!
In the lesson Ms Boyd played her French horn and used it to demonstrate harmonic and inharmonic overtones. We discussed loudness, pitch, tone, what is a frequency, and why a sound is different on different instruments. The two Music teachers used their practical expertise and experience to help the students understand the science and mathematics of sound, which were mapped out in various graphs on the board.
I’d be lying if I said I understood everything that went on in the lesson – it has been two decades – but I love the fact that staff from two seemingly disparate departments came together to combine their knowledge to enhance the learning experience.
Teachers at Woodstock are keen to promote this broad view of education which crosses the boundaries between subjects, away from the traditional, and sometimes artificial compartmentalisation of academic subjects, which does not always reflect real life.
Only in Woodstock would you find the French horn being played in a Math lesson. Read more about how our academic programmes and how Music is Math, and vice versa, at Woodstock.