Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 251-278

First online:

Academic music: music instruction to engage third-grade students in learning basic fraction concepts

  • Susan Joan CoureyAffiliated withSan Francisco State University Email author 
  • , Endre BaloghAffiliated withSan Francisco State University
  • , Jody Rebecca SikerAffiliated withSan Francisco State University
  • , Jae PaikAffiliated withSan Francisco State University

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This study examined the effects of an academic music intervention on conceptual understanding of music notation, fraction symbols, fraction size, and equivalency of third graders from a multicultural, mixed socio-economic public school setting. Students (N = 67) were assigned by class to their general education mathematics program or to receive academic music instruction two times/week, 45 min/session, for 6 weeks. Academic music students used their conceptual understanding of music and fraction concepts to inform their solutions to fraction computation problems. Linear regression and t tests revealed statistically significant differences between experimental and comparison students’ music and fraction concepts, and fraction computation at posttest with large effect sizes. Students who came to instruction with less fraction knowledge responded well to instruction and produced posttest scores similar to their higher achieving peers.


Fraction concepts Elementary Representation Music notation Semiotics