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STEM and the Missing 'M'

Posted by on in Music Education Research
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Music… a five-line graph of dots, rests and bars wherein these same seemingly haphazardly placed but universally understood graphics translate to the sounds of our souls. Pythagoras himself (late 500s BCE) lectured on his found Octave. Mathematicians and Musicians have been in a symbiotic state of mind since the dawn of thought. That said, the most recent catchphrase for the emphasis on the studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is STEM. Its purpose, to direct the education of our students to excel and be competitive intellectually on a global level...


But where is the elusive other 'M'? The 'M' that is the first subject on the list for funding cuts, whether initiated by federal, state and/or local government? The 'M', which since antiquity has been raised to intellectual heights by countless scholars, mathematicians, statisticians, philosophers and Metallica... The missing 'M' is Music!

Music Education should not be considered an elective on the schedule nor the 'go to' subject for cuts. Consider the missing 'M' and its influence on the other STEM letters:

  • The engineering feat that is the Banjo, knowing that THE Ben Eldridge has brought his Blue Grass genius to creating algorithms for deep-sea-sound research
  • Mathematician Georg Pick, who would sit and play his violin with Albert Einstein accompanying him
  • The opening chord of The Beatles' "It's a Hard Days' Night" was finally figured out by... not a fellow professional musician but a statistician and mathematician who happened to play guitar and had a thing for Fourier's Calculation

We could go on from the time of Hypatia of Alexandria to the current techno music scene and there would probably be an extraordinarily almost infinite list of how Music and Math, together, have been the driving force of creativity and genius.

But then, we do not necessarily need millions of genius'. We do, however, need the education of present and future students to include the creative process of music to better comprehend the nuances and simple perfection of mathematics. It is the integrative and multitasking capabilities of these same students that will edge them toward a future of possibility, invention, exploration and success.


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  • John Flora Monday, 16 June 2014

    STEMM is the indeed the acronym to consider! What mind can reach its fullest potential without a consistent interaction with Music, the great producer of self-discipline, creativity and countless catharses?

  • John Flora Monday, 16 June 2014

    STEMM is the indeed the acronym to consider!! What mind can reach its full potential without a regular interaction with Music, the creator of self-discipline and the greatest catalyst for creativity and catharses.

  • Rodney Dittmar Tuesday, 17 June 2014

    Wonderful article - so true!
    Sad that the Ancient Greeks considered music so important as to be part of the Quadrivium (the four subjects making up their secondary curriculum and the model for our modern-day "college of liberal arts" or "college of arts and sciences", depending on your university), yet in our day, we need to fight to keep these programs in our schools.

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