SAVY 2019: Session 5, Day 4 – Math and Music (Rising 5th/6th)
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: 8 Prosecution wins, 8 Defense wins, and 1 hung jury). We look forward to discussing some trial highlights at Open House tomorrow.
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! In fact, they outperformed the high schoolers I did this activity with last month. Well done!
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 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 it was great to see how they connected the lyrics and the film. Our final moments of the day were spent talking about mathematical set theory as a follow-up to our musical set theory investigations earlier in the week. Students learned the operations of union and intersection and discussed some interesting ideas about “emptiness.”
Several students have told me that they are bringing instruments and/or planning to perform tomorrow. I am so excited to hear them play! I certainly have some practicing to do tonight!