Math in Music Lesson Plan


Download the complete instructions for this lesson with handouts.

Using video segments and web interactives from Get the Math, students engage in an exploration of mathematics, specifically proportional reasoning and sense making, to solve real world problems. In this lesson, students focus on understanding the Big Ideas of Algebra: patterns, relationships, equivalence, and linearity; learn to use a variety of representations, including modeling with variables; build connections between numeric and algebraic expressions; and use what they have learned previously about number and operations, measurement, proportionality, and discrete mathematics as applications of algebra.  Methodology includes guided instruction, student-partner investigations, and communication of problem solving strategies and solutions.

In the Introductory Activity, students view a video segment in which they learn how two hip-hop musicians use math in their work and are presented with a mathematical music challenge.  In the Learning Activities, students use an online simulation to complete the challenge, which involves using algebraic concepts and reasoning to calculate beats per minutes in an instrumental sample. Students discuss their strategies and view the approaches and solutions used by teams featured in Get the Math. In an optional activity, students explore an additional online interactive to match the beats of new combinations of drum tracks and instrumental samples. In the Culminating Activity, students reflect upon and discuss their strategies and talk about the ways in which algebra can be applied in music and beyond.


Students will be able to:

  • Describe scenarios that require musicians to use mathematics and algebraic reasoning in their work.
  • Explain how to use algebraic concepts and reasoning to calculate beats per minute.
  • Identify a strategy and create a model for problem solving.
  • Understand and use rates, ratios, and proportions to solve problems (proportional reasoning).
  • Recognize, describe, and represent linear relationships using words, tables, numerical patterns, graphs, and/or equations.
  • Understand, explain, and use algebraic and numeric expressions and equations that are interconnected and build on one another to produce a coherent whole.