Something occurred to me today!
I was practicing the piano, just as I do almost every day, when suddenly I began to laugh! I have never been great at math, but today I realized that I’m using math when I practice the piano.
I’ve learned through the Master Key Experience, that there are seven ways we learn. One is Math and math = numbers. No, there is no multiplication or division, geometry, or trigonometry in musical scores, and they are not written in numbers. The notes are printed on two staffs; the staffs contain a LOT of information, but no numbers. Well, except for little tiny ones printed every so often – let me show you.
See those tiny blue circles? Those indicate which finger is to be used to play a particular note. They are so helpful, especially when my fingers feel clumsy and I hit wrong notes in a piece. I don’t always agree with the finger numbering, but I work out what would be best for me, and use a pencil to change it in the score.
What made me laugh, was that when I was playing, I realized that the finger numbers were what was running through my head! Here’s an example: I learned one of my mom’s favorite songs when I was about 14. When I think of it now, this is what is in my mind: 5, 3, 2, 1 – 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 1 – 4, 5, 4, 5, 3, 2, 1 – 2, 3, 5 – 2, 2, 2, 5 – 2, 5, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2! See – math! It’s so entrenched in my head that as I was typing this, I went back and changed one of the numbers – like you would even realize it’s wrong – I crack myself up sometimes!
I also realized that I’m using several of the other ways – Athletic – because I’m moving my hands, fingers, wrists and feet when I play. Also, Intrapersonal, this finger numbering business is going on in my head. Of course, Music itself is a way we learn. I suppose I could stretch Interpersonal to fit this scenario as well, because at times, I’m counting out loud to keep myself on the beat: 1, 2, 3, 4 – for quarter noted in 4/4 time and 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & (for eighth notes in 4/4 time). I could say that I’m using Shapes – because what else would you call the notes on the page, except ‘shapes’? I haven’t come up with examples of how Language is used as a way to learn while I’m playing, but feel free to leave me a comment if you figure it out!!
“One learns from books and example only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.” ~~ Frank Herbert
Dianne Park says
Thank you for that great example and the connections you made to the 7 Ways We Learn. I especially appreciate the recap, with examples.
Does your song have words? Certainly that would be language, right?
Nancy Ottinger says
Thanks, Diane. The particular song mentioned here doesn’t have words – it’s the Theme from Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto, but others certainly do have words – so thanks for filling in that blank for me!
Wow!! I can see that!! And as for language? I think music is a language in and of itself! Who would look at the notes and know how to interpret them? For example.. this quote: Without Music Life Would Bb. ; )
Nancy Ottinger says
Thanks for stopping by, Maria! I need to do more thinking about language.
Hugh Liddle says
Great post, Nancy!
Yes, music is all about math. Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eight notes, sixteen notes. And the space between notes…the silence is just as important (if not moreso) than the notes themselves. One of the most amazing things is that after you play for long enough, it all becomes automatic and you don’t even need the sheet music.
How incredible that God created 8 basic notes, sounds that repeat octave after octave, can be measured, and never vary in pitch!
I think it’s SO cool that you’re taking lessons. I’m learning more every day about writing, playing, singing, and recording music! Music is another of those things in life that offer lifelong learning!
Love & blessings,
Nancy Ottinger says
It’s interesting that I never connected the two – all math all the time! Thanks for stopping by!