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The addition of music: The use of music in elementary mathematics instruction

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to consider the use of music in the elementary classroom. The central goal of the study was to answer a set of research questions: 1) Does classical music influence math learning? a) Is student attention span effected by the playing of classical music during math time? If so, in what ways? b) Is the mood of the classroom influenced by the playing of classical music? If so, in what ways? and c) What are student reactions to this classical music during mathematics? The ground breaking study which piqued my interest originally was published by researchers Rauscher and Shaw (1993) of University of California Irvine. Their work suggests a relationship between musical experience and mathematical performance. Complex music, such as the piano concertos of Mozart, seemed to be most influential. Additional studies . support these findings. This study was conducted at a suburban elementary school in the state of Oregon. The participants were fourth graders and their teacher. Data was collected during the students' independent math work time where music was played routinely. I employed a variety of methodological strategies during the data collection phase of the research including observations, extensive field notes and reflections, and a class survey. For the protection of students' identity pseudonyms are used throughout this report. After the data collection and reflection phases of this research study a relationship between music and mathematical learning seemed to emerge within the context of this classroom setting. Students seemed able to concentrate for prolonged periods time while music was present in the classroom. Students also expressed an appreciation of the music during their work time indicating that it helped them "think harder." It appears that music did enhance the learning environment observed in this study.


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