Justin Bieber is a statistician

A six-part fugue from The Musical Offering, in...

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If you’ve had limited experience with reading and playing music, maybe it’s been a few decades since you were forced to learn the recorder or the violin or the piano, you may not be familiar with why so many people say there is a link between being good at both.

If you’re unsure, put yourself in your favourite way too loud jazz club, hip hop club, square dance hall, or whatever music arena tickles your fancy, and sit down. Yes, ignore everyone else who is having a good time “dancing” and sit down. Now watch your legs. At least one of them is going to start bouncing up and down and you won’t be able to stop it. You may not realize it, but you’re counting. 1, 2, or 1, 2, 3, or 1, 2, 3, 4. You’re counting out sections or bars of music.

The foundation of music is simple counting and fractions. What, math? Fractions? Yessiree bob! Depending on the complexity of the music, on a scale from Britney to Bieber to Bach, each of those sections of bars can be broken up into smaller pieces. Perhaps cut into equal halves (oooh half notes), equal thirds (ooooh triplets), equal quarters (quarter notes or one leg bob), equal eights (seriously, I need to explain this one too?), or some combination of fractions that adds back up to one. Just not equal sevenths because that’s crazy.

You may not realize it but every time you keep the beat with your toe tapping or sing out of tune to the radio, you’re doing basic math. So if you are a math phobic and you don’t want your kids to become math phobics, fight the genes and make sure your kids get some music lessons. It’s a good way to sneak in some math tutoring and it can’t hurt. You might inspire a future music genius or statistician.

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