Does learning piano help with math? We look at the intriguing ways that learning how to play the piano can help with a variety of different aspects of your life. Is math easier when you are getting used to playing the piano? Do these skills link in your brain in some way?
There are numerous schools of thought on this, but generally speaking, people who are good at one may well be good at another. For this reason, a lot of people think that learning piano can be very helpful for math, and perhaps even vice versa.
The Mozart Effect – Does Learning Piano Help with Math?
You might have heard of the Mozart effect before. It basically says that people who listen to classical music tend to become smarter. It may sound snobbish or elitist, but it has been the subject of some very important studies.
The studies in question have suggested that people improve their “spatial-temporal reasoning” when they listen to complex classical compositions. This means an increased ability to visualize and solve mathematical problems.
The original study on the Mozart effect, by Rauscher, was a little bit controversial. There were some extreme improvements in the IQ scores in this particular study, and other studies failed to replicate the exact same results, but still found some improvement in the spatial-temporal reasoning.
This is an argument for learning piano helping with math based on just listening, but there are a lot of people who think that the main benefits come from learning to play.
Piano Can Be a Math Exercise
Does learning piano help with math? Well, it seems like common sense to say that it does, especially for the ultimate beginners out there. Some of the very basics of knowing how to play the piano revolve around exercises that could be seen as mathematics.
For instance, time signatures. Learning to count in time with the music, whether 4/4 or 3/4. Once you get to complex time signatures such as 7/8, counting measures and keeping rhythm can be tough. When people in our academy are testing their knowledge of time signatures, they are effectively doing a math exercise.
It stands to reason that learning to do this can help your brain to focus on certain areas of maths, and better understand fractions, for instance.
Chords and scales can be turned into math exercises too. The intervals between notes in a chord or scale follow mathematical patterns. In fact, you can work out simple major and minor chords just by counting the space between notes on the keyboard.
Cause and Correlation – The Argument Against
Numerous studies have found that people who are good at math tend to be better at piano, and vice versa. Not many scientific or educational professionals would argue that there is no link at all. There almost definitely is. The argument is whether one can cause another.
That is to say that, the counter-argument is that people who are good at one just tend to be good at the other, too. One doesn’t necessarily cause the other. Instead, it is perfectly normal that someone has a brain that better understands both math and music.
This is a little bit like saying someone who is good at art will probably have nicer handwriting. Being good at one didn’t cause the other, but someone who is good at one is likely to also be good at the other as many of the same skills are being used.
There are many different takes on this. Does learning piano help with math? It certainly makes sense that improving one skill can help greatly with the other. There’s certainly no harm in adding to your skillset by playing piano, and it is likely to help with math.