Sunday, January 15, 2012

NCTM, Philadelphia, April 2012

Much to my great surprise, a talk proposal I made to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for their April 2012 annual meeting in Philadelphia was accepted last fall. The talk title is "The Intersection of Math, Music, and Technology", and you can get information about it here.


As I've learned more, and read more, and thought more about how I want mathematics to be taught, I've been reconsidering my talk at NCTM. Originally, I had intended to use the mathematics of musical sound (in particular, timbre) to help my students understand the ideas of sinusoidal functions, sums of sinusoids, and so on. And the easiest way of doing that was to use programs like Mathematica (to explicitly illustrate the mathematical concepts), Audacity (to demonstrate how real sounds can be decomposed into individual sinusoids, or conversely to illustrate how real sounds can be built up from individual sine waves), and GarageBand (to be a source of simulated sounds, as well as to manipulate real sounds, such as those generated by an electric guitar). Demonstrations of how these can be accomplished will remain the major focus of my talk.


What I'd like to add to the talk, though, is the basic idea behind my new course proposal: that there are other connections between music and mathematics that are worth exploring in a mathematics classroom. Technology, obviously, can play a major role in elucidating many of these connections for students. I know that many Math 2.0+ teachers (in analogy with Web 2.0) will be in attendance in Philadelphia, and I hope that there will be a good exchange of ideas about genuinely new ways of thinking about helping students understand the ways mathematics plays a role in their world.

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