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Activity 3: Musical Rhythms and Math
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Activity 3: Musical Rhythms and Math


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Grade Level Grades 3-6
Resource Type Activity, Media

About This Lesson

                                                   Learning Goals/Objectives


  • Identify and describe whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes
  • Follow along with and lead call and response activities
  • Use music to understand simple math problems
  • Understand how to count note values when reading or singing music


  • Whiteboard or chart paper
  • Markers

                            Common Core Standards & NGSSS Music Standards

Common Core Standards

MAFS.4.NBT.2.4: Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

MAFS.4.OA.1.2: Multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, distinguishing multiplicative comparison from additive comparison

MAFS.4.OA.2.4: Investigate factors and multiples.

MAFS.4.OA.3.5: Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. For example, given the rule “Add 3” and the starting number 1, generate terms in the resulting sequence and observe that the terms appear to alternate between odd and even numbers. Explain informally why the numbers will continue to alternate in this way.

MAFS.5.NBT.2.5: Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

MAFS.5.OA.2.3: Generate two numerical patterns using two given rules. Identify apparent relationships between corresponding terms. Form ordered pairs consisting of corresponding terms from the two patterns and graph the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane. For example,  given the rule “Add 3” and the starting number 0, and given the rule “Add 6” and the starting number 0, generate terms in the resulting sequences, and observe that the terms in one sequence are twice the corresponding terms in the other sequence. Explain informally why this is so.

NGSSS Music Standards

MU.4.C.2.1 Identify and describe basic music performance techniques to provide a foundation for critiquing one's self and others.

MU.4.F.3.1 Identify the characteristics and behaviors displayed by successful student musicians and discuss how these qualities will contribute to success beyond the music classroom.

MU.4.H.3.1 Identify connections among music and other contexts, using correct music and other relevant content-area vocabulary, and explore how learning in one academic area can help with knowledge or skill acquisition in a different academic area.

MU.5.C.2.1: Define criteria, using correct music vocabulary, to critique one's own and othersperformance.

MU.5.F.1.1 Create a performance, using visual, kinesthetic, digital, and/or acoustic means to manipulate musical elements.

MU.5.F.3.1 Examine and discuss the characteristics and behaviors displayed by successful student musicians that can be applied outside the music classroom.

MU.5.H.3.1 Examine critical-thinking processes in music and describe how they can be transferred to other disciplines.

                                                   ESOL/ESE STRATEGIES




Step 1:

Introduce your students to the concept of music and math by displaying the rhythm and math presentation.

Step 2:

Explain the basic note values on the screen with your students, including the whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note, displaying the images from the presentation.

Step 3:

Using a metronome, demonstrate the note lengths on the screen by clapping the rhythms for a whole note (BIG pizza pie circle,) half note (Clap, open arms, clap, open arms,)quarter note (1 clap on each side L,R,L,R,) eighth note (2claps on each side L to Rt.,) and sixteenth note (Say these are tiny chipmunk claps, 4 on each side.) Ask your students to repeat after you, clapping along to the rhythms on the screen.

Step 4:

Ask your students to break into 5 groups. The students in group 1 will clap whole notes; group 2 are half notes; group 3 are quarter notes; group 4 are eighth notes; group 5 are sixteenth notes. Set a steady pulse with a metronome with a BPM of 60. Ask your students to feel the beat by moving to the metronome from left to right (left on beat 1, right on beat 2, left on beat 3, and right on beat 4).

Step 5:

Have each group (one group at a time) clap their rhythmic pattern. Whole notes clap on 1, half notes clap on 1 & 3, quarter notes clap on 1, 2, 3, and 4,etc. Once each group claps their part correctly, place all the rhythms together at the same time. Change the volume of the claps from very soft (pianissimo) to very loud (Fortissimo).

Step 6:

Explain to your students that you’ll be doing a Call and Response for the next clapping exercise. You will clap and/or stomp a rhythm (the call) and your students will have to replicate it back (the response).

Step 7:

Play the metronome with a BPM of 60. Clap or stomp rhythms in the Rhythm and Math presentation and ask your students to replicate you. Ex. Clap, Clap, Clap Clap (on beats1, 2, 3, and 4).

Step 8:

Ask your students to create their own 4 beat rhythm. Ask your students to demonstrate their rhythm for the class, leading in a call and response similar to step 7.

Step 9:

After you conclude the call and response exercise, ask your students the note lengths again, and if they see a connection between the notes they just clapped and math. What do we know about math to help us understand the note values we just clapped?

Step 10:

Demonstrate to your students how you can add note values together by identifying the type of note and their note value. Practice a few sample exercises on the screen.

Step 11:

Have your students create their own note value math equations and share them with the class.

                                        Rubric/Instrument for Assessment

4 Points(Advanced):

A score of four is a response in which the student demonstrates a thorough understanding of the concepts and/or procedures embodied in the task. The student has responded correctly to the task, used sound procedures, and provided clear and complete explanations and interpretations.

3 Points(Proficient):

A score of three is a response in which the student demonstrates an understanding of the concepts and/or procedures embodied in the task. The students’ response to the task is essentially correct with the procedures used and the explanations and interpretations provided demonstrating an essential but less than thorough understanding. The response may contain minor flaws that reflect in attentive execution of procedures or indications of some misunderstanding of the underlying concepts and/or procedures.

2 Points(Basic):

A score of two indicates that the student has demonstrated only a partial understanding of the concepts and/or procedures embodied in the task. Although the student may have used the correct approach to obtaining a solution or may have provided a correct solution, the students’ work lacks an essential understanding of the underlying concepts.

1 Point(Emerging):

A score of one indicates that the student has demonstrated a very limited understanding of the concepts and/or procedures embodied in the task. The students’ response is incomplete and exhibits many flaws. Although the students’ response has addressed some of the conditions of the task, the student reached an inadequate conclusion and/or provided reasoning that was faulty or in complete. The response exhibits many flaws or may be incomplete.

0 Points:

A score of zero indicates that the student has provided a completely incorrect or non-interpretable response or no response at all.



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