Music and Science

Science, from the Latin “to know,” is the study of the structure and activity of the physical and natural world via systematic observation and objective experimentation. In addition, all conclusions must be provable, not only by the originator, but by other groups, working under the same circumstances. The field is commonly divided up into three groups:  natural science, such as biology, formal sciences (e.g. mathematics) and social sciences, such as the study of human behavior. These three groups make up the fundamental sciences and they often overlap as a scientist attempts to arrive at a valid answer to a particular question.

Because they are held to such rigorous methodologies, scientists aren’t generally thought of as being creative; but Albert Einstein said “The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Logic then tells us that the more creative scientists we have, the more innovation they will bring to society. The creative mind is capable of intuitive leaps that connect data in new ways, coming up with over-arching provable theories, which can, on occasion, be revolutionary.

It is well documented that playing music enhances a person’s long-term memory and linguistic abilities. Playing music also enhances listening skills, teaches discipline, increases abstract reasoning, motor skills and coordination, and ultimately makes a person more creative –music is after all, also a metaphysical experience.

It is not surprising, then, that many great inventors and scientists played musical instruments.  Einstein played the violin and piano and, in particular, loved to improvise. Thomas Edison played the piano, Benjamin Franklin played several instruments including violin, harp, and guitar. Bill Gates played trombone. And even the fictional Sherlock Holmes, the originator of the “science of deduction” played the violin, to free his mind to solve crimes.

STEAM–education.org along with pointing out these basic relationships between science and music, looks at specific examples of how learning music can help in learning science. More importantly it points out the interdependence of the two fields, and how Art enhances creativity in both music and science.

The articles found in the Science section of this website demonstrate specific examples of these relationships and makes a strong case for including music study in tandem with any scientific discipline.

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