Song Wheel

Putting all the spokes in your teaching wheel!

STEM Story: Why STEM Matters in Music

Posted by lbbartolomeo on September 1, 2018

hands hand notes music

Photo by Negative Space on

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  I was certainly excited when the trend turned to STEAM by putting the “A” for the arts into STEM.  But long before 2005 when the acronym STEM was first used, these subjects were a natural part of my music teaching.

Science-The science of sound is essential to so much musical understanding.  We choose instrumentation based on the particular sound.  Children learn that they prefer instruments based on their sound-production capabilities depending on what they want to accomplish.  High to low voicing is everywhere as we learn the soprano recorder or alto xylophone or bass drum and see that size matters and determines pitch.

Technology-While much of our music-making in school is acoustic, we use technology in many ways.  We have digital tuners, iPad apps for skill practice, online metronomes, digital recordings, interactive whiteboards, computer projection, apps for composition, and the whole world of electronics related to performing.  I could write volumes looking at computer use with just iTunes and Youtube.

Engineering-While this may be a bit of a stretch, I really believe that how my students create a performance piece is all about engineering.  They look at the overall structure with an example being intro, verses, chorus, bridge, and outro.  They look at the aesthetics through instrumentation which might include voices, strings, percussion, and other possibilities depending on the student’s capabilities.  Engineering is about design and construction which has so many parallels in music.

Math-Math is deeply ingrained in music.  Mathematical groupings and patterns are part of note durations and meter.  A diatonic scale is based on 7 notes that repeat at higher or lower pitches.  Learning the notes on a staff uses octaves (8), intervals (i.e. major 2nd, perfect 4th), and other patterning.

In conclusion, STEM has always been a part of my music classes.  I LOVE it when I see classroom teachers put the “A” in their STEM teaching and make it STEAM!  Students certainly deserve it ALL!


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