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Summer SAVY 2018: Session 3, Day 4 – Math and Music (Rising 5th/6th)

Posted by on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in Grade 5, Grade 6, SAVY.

I am so excited to see the students perform in the trial of John Cage tomorrow! They have been working very hard, and many of them finalized their respective tasks today. They will have a little prep time in the morning, either to refresh their memory about what they are doing or put the finishing touches on their work. As I have told the students, tomorrow’s event will break the all-time tie (current score: 7 Prosecution wins, 7 Defense wins, and 1 hung jury).

We spent most of the day investigating and discussing program music, music that tells a story. One of our activities had the students listen to The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens and guess what animals he was describing. The students did very well with this exercise! We put several guesses for each movement on the board, and their level of success was quite high! Here is a picture of our zoo of guesses:

We then listened to the piece as it is usually performed: with narration. Students were able to compare their guesses with the composer’s intention and understand what he meant even if it wasn’t what they initially heard. This is one of those “theme 2” activities. There is, after all, no formula a composer can create that automatically indicates “swan,” even though some students did correctly guess that!

We also began our study of matrices today. Today we focused on mathematical matrices, learning the basics of matrix addition, subtraction, and scalar multiplication. I hope there may be some time for us to look at matrix multiplication and some matrix applications tomorrow, but I want to be sure that we also spend time introducing matrices in a musical context!

We wrapped up this part of the day by looking at the supposed connections (which the band steadfastly denies) between Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. Students pointed out many synchronicities and probably could have brought up even more had our day not reached its end. For the final five minutes of class, we celebrated Tau Day (2 pi day) since today is June 28 (twice 3.14).

Several students have told me that they are bringing instruments tomorrow. I am so excited to hear them play! I have some practicing to do tonight!

-Mr. Gray

Learning About Matrices and How They are Used in Music