The Effect Of Music Instruction On Spatial And Mathematical Achievement: A Case Study

Open Access
Katerman, Mary Theresa
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Thesis Supervisor
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Honors Advisor
  • Christopher A Kiver, Faculty Reader
  • music
  • education
  • mathematics
  • dyscalculia
  • music education
When an elementary aged student is succeeding in all areas of academics except for mathematics, various strategies can be applied to assist the student’s mathematical achievement. Based on previous research suggesting that mathematics and music share many similarities in the way in which the brain processes the material, perhaps mathematical achievement can be enhanced through music instruction. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of basic lessons in musicianship, vocal technique, and keyboarding technique on a specific student’s fundamental mathematical and spatial achievement. One third-grade student, having difficulty with math, was selected for this case study. To measure mathematical and spatial achievement, before and after eight music lessons, the student was given a test that included all the concepts she was expected to know during her third grade year. Her posttest demonstrated a much higher score than the pretest with fewer simple mathematical errors. This study also aimed to investigate the speed at which the participant was able to recall and process mathematics, however due to unexpected circumstances, this produced invalid and skewed results. The participant’s math grade in school was greatly improved over the course of the music instruction, showing that the music instruction may have been effective in increasing her mathematical achievement and it was certainly not detrimental.