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Summer SAVY Session 5, Day 5 Math and Music

Posted by on Friday, July 21, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

We are so sad to see our Math and Music students leave! Today was a wonderful conclusion to an outstanding week of learning and creating.

This morning we investigated how the lengths of the tools we’ve been using all week affect their sound. Students used tape measures to measure the length of our Boomwhackers and tried to find a connection between the differences in length and the musical intervals. We discovered that some notes are a full step apart, while others are a half step apart, which leads to gaps in those differences. They then had to make a song using ONLY the measurements they measured before swapping pieces and performing another group’s song. Turns out, we need to be super precise to make the music turn out exactly how the composer intended.

Our guest performer was an opera student here at Vanderbilt, who shared some lovely music with us and explained how the human voice is an instrument with its own unique parts and musicality just as much as a horn or violin. Our young mathematical musicians asked so many great questions about the mathematical, vocal, and even language training she’s had since many operas include lyrics in languages other than English. They were particularly impressed how this student was both a music major and a pre-med student. While she loved music and was excited to be able to continue studying it in college, her other passion was to become a doctor. Many students were excited to hear that as they grow up, there are many people who continue their love of music while also pursuing another career field that they were also interested in.

We also got to have a lesson by our wonderful TA, Ms. Cori! She showed us some visual art that she created for her composition based around the math within art. We had an opportunity to discuss the interaction of form, space, value, and many other aspects specific to art that have an underlying structure based in math.

The highlight of the day was certainly the student performances, where the children showcased their songs that they have been working on throughout the week. They collaborated in small groups to create compositions on Boomwhackers, shakers, and many of their own instruments that showcase math in some way. We debriefed how each piece contained elements of repetition, motif, dynamics, tempo or time signature changes, and many other topics we learned about this week. We also paid close attention

to how our fellow students were communicating with each other nonverbally to line up their downbeats and make sure rhythms were perfectly in time, as we learned about when we explored conducting earlier in the week.

We couldn’t be prouder of our budding mathematicians and musicians. Here’s to many more inspiring and transformative experiences in their educational journey!