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Children, Piano, Music and Math

The relationship between music and math is inescapable. Think of any musical instrument as a big counting and calculating machine. Bach, for example, used a system (see the drawing below) called “figured bass.”

In this ancient system, numbers (figures) were used as a type of shorthand that showed which groups of keys (chords) to play with a minimum of confusing graphic notation. These numerical relationships between members of the chord groups are identical with the numbers in Piano By Number.

Modern “guitar” chords such as you will find in all pop sheet music (Cm6, Dmaj7, etc.) use numbers in a similar but simplified way. On the level of physics and acoustics, all musical sounds can be expressed as ratios of other sounds.

Rhythm Is Time Divided Into Tiny Units
Rhythm in music is a simple mathematical device in which time is divided into units and then presented in a dizzying variety of combinations and patterns. When introduced properly, playing the piano can be a very positive force in a young child’s life.

If you can interest the child in the piano in a friendly way, the learning will start. If you force it, you may as well be asking them if they want more homework or vegetables.

Piano Is Child-Friendly
The piano has many attractions for a small child. Unlike the violin or guitar, or almost any orchestral instrument, every note is laid out in a row in front of you. One finger, one note. Try that on a violin!

For children, this means that they may begin making music as soon as their index finger can remember a few patterns. Thus the layout of the piano keyboard is inherently friendly to the child. And if one begins with only the white keys, it is easy to begin navigating and building habits.

Math Skills Abound In Piano

Simple counting, pattern recognition, left/right, up/down are all explored the instant a child touches a group of piano keys. The relationship between math and the piano, and music theory in general, becomes even more elegant and complex the further one goes into music theory.

At simple levels that a child can reach, many of the concepts of beginning keyboard harmony prepare a child for the concepts of algebra.

Try a song with numbers on our online piano:

BEETHOVEN'S NINTH
| 3 3 4 5 | 5 4 3 2 | 1 1 2 3 | 3 * * 2 | 2 * * * |
| 3 3 4 5 | 5 4 3 2 | 1 1 2 3 | 2 * * 1 | 1 * * * |

Piano Symbols And Interpolation
For example, when a child sees the chord symbol: Dm (D Minor) they are required to decipher the first letter as a group of keys having a certain mathematical basis, placed at only one type of location of the keyboard.

But Dm, as above, requires in addition the deciphering of the second letter, the small m, which then requires the lowering of the middle key of the chord (can you find the middle key in all this calculation?) You may have noticed the similarity, in concept, of Dm and, say, a mathematical equation such as A/B –2 = ? (my apologies to the math buffs.)

Many Kids Hate Math
Kids resist vegetables in the same way they resist math. They do not resist music and the piano if presented properly. Kids love the bubbly stuff that is music, and the piano can be the vehicle that gets them directly involved with the math in music. Ask a kid if they would rather do math or music. They will say “music,” not realizing that on so many levels, they are one and the same. Piano is thus “fun math.”

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

PLAY ALONG SONGS ARE FREE!

Our PLAY ALONG SONGS are produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Castellon of Sesame Street. They're such an important element in making the piano fun for kids!

PLAY FUN & GAMES

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Our books and videos are created by Emmy Award winning composer and leading children's educator John Aschenbrenner. Get your child happily started at the piano!

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