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I want my daughter, who is 6, to be good at maths (of course what she will want will override this). I have heard that people who play musical instruments tend to be good at maths too. I have enrolled my daughter on a music course, which she started today. Now, I do believe that music in itself is important too and not only useful to help you better understand maths.

Given that everyone in this forum is either good at maths or at least very interested in it, I wanted to ask you all of your experiences with this. Do you play any instruments? Do you like a certain type of music? Do you think that there is no connection between music and maths? Is there anything else you do, have done to get yourselves interested at or good at maths?

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Pattern recognition and a good memory are extremely helpful in both music and math. I play piano and study math and I find they complement each other nicely. – Tarnation Sep 22 '12 at 21:33
Classical, see music link here: (it is beautiful that you can use a CAS to show this and there is a student version of the program for an excellent discount). Enjoy and teach your daughter about the incredible beauty of mathematics, symmetry and explore!!! ~A – Amzoti Sep 22 '12 at 21:40
Pattern recognition and geometry are also helpful in football, sometimes called soccer. Of late, Chelsea and Arsenal are doing very well. Also Tottenham now have a few American players, nice to see. – Will Jagy Sep 22 '12 at 21:44
I think there is a connection, but you can easily have one without the other. I am an appalling musician, but a good mathematician (I hope), and almost every musician I know is illiterate in mathematics. – Daniel Littlewood Sep 22 '12 at 21:46
"Natural Talent" is somewhat overrated in academic subjects*. You can become quite good at a subject, good enough to earn your living studying it, with a good upbringing that teaches the importance of consistent hard work, and developing a genuine interest in the subject. It is only around the elite ranks where you will also need some intense manic drive to succeed, a good heap of "natural talent" (the type of thing Field's medallists have) and some luck as well. *Of course, for things like sports, being 5" tall will almost certainly prevent you from entering the NBA. – Ragib Zaman Sep 23 '12 at 1:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I played trumpet from 4th through 12th grade (but no longer do), and currently play guitar, bass guitar, piano, and I'm working on drums. As for types of music I like: I listen primarily to metal and hard rock, with a little folk and classical thrown in as well.

As DanLitt stated above, I think there's no definite connection between musical ability and mathematical ability. One can possess one without possessing the other. However I think that some of the same principles may be involved in each of them. The 'results' of music and of math are not of a physical nature. Sure, one can hear the product of holding down strings at a few frets on a guitar and strumming them, but the non-physical part that's more open to interpretation is how they sound together. In the same sense, the products of mathematics do not produce anything that one could hold in their hand (not 'pure' products like theorems at least), and their quality must be judged in a different and more abstract way.

I think that these abilities to grasp these non-physical, largely mental constructs may be involved in both music and math. Perhaps as an explanation to what DanLitt referred to above, it may be that one needs more than solely this ability, that is, more musical potential and/or more mathematical potential, but I think that perhaps neither the musical nor the mathematical ability would come without this very general and abstract ability to grasp these sorts of mental constructs.

So, I think when it comes to music and math you either 'have it' or you don't. But I think that there is an underlying ability of one's mind that allows more abstract processes of these sorts to come to one more easily, and that this general ability is of the same origin in both music and mathematics.

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Why draw a value distinction between math and music? Both are beautiful. Of course she should have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, regardless of any connection to mathematics.

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