When you hear music and count along with the beat, you’re doing math! The beat often falls in 4s — 1, 2, 3, 4, then 1, 2, 3, 4 again — so we call those “quarter notes.” But you can play twice as fast to fit in 8th notes, or twice as fast as that to have 16th notes…or even faster! Bedtime Math fan Luca R. asked, how many times do you hit the drum if you play 16th notes for a whole minute? (and here’s Luca drumming it out himself!) A lot of songs play about 1 quarter note per second, or 60 per minute. And there are 4 16th notes in a quarter note, giving us 240 strokes in a minute. Of course, some people drum much faster: speed drummers hold “extreme sport drumming” contests, where a “drumometer” measures their speed . Last we checked, Tom Grosset holds the record with 1,208 strokes in 1 minute! That kind of math is music to our ears.
Wee ones: If you count 1, 2, 3…what number comes next?
Little kids: If you count 1, 2 ,3, 4 and repeat again and again, what number do you say on the 10th beat? Bonus: If you count in 8s instead, how many beats have you played when you say “5” for the 2nd time?
Big kids: Notes twice as fast as 8th notes are called 16th notes, since you fit in twice as many …so what do you get if you play twice as fast as that? Bonus: If speed drummer Tom Grosset played exactly 20 strokes per second, would that have been faster or slower than his record of 1,208 in 60 seconds?
Wee ones: 4.
Little kids: 2. Bonus: 13 beats.
Big kids: 32nd notes. Bonus: A little slower, as that would be 1,200…he actually played a little faster than that!
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.