Do you like to sing? Do you have a favorite song? Music is like dessert: we don’t have to have it to stay alive, but we love it so much that someone is always making more. So our friend Elijah B. asked, how many songs are there in the world? That must be a big number, since anyone can write a new song – maybe you’ve even made up a song yourself! So we don’t know every song ever written. But a company called Gracenote keeps a list of all the songs out there: it had 79 million songs on it as of 2011. To get a sense of that number, 79 million minutes is about 150 years…so if most of the songs are from the year 1866 onward, that’s 1 new song every minute. Either way, it’s hard to learn the words to all of them!
Wee ones: Can you sing “la la la”? Sing the word “la” 6 times!
Little kids: If you have 2 favorite songs, and one runs 3 minutes long and the other is 2 minutes longer, how long is the 2nd song? Bonus: If you sing both songs one after the other, how long does that take?
Big kids: Humans started counting about 9,000 years ago, but started using an alphabet 4,000 years later. How many years ago did the alphabet start? Bonus: If you add together those 2 chunks of time (9,000 and 5,000), then subtract 2,000, then cut in half, you get the number of years ago that Egyptians had harps and flutes to play songs. How many years ago was that?
The sky’s the limit: If we have 81,000,000 songs by today, and humans wrote all but 1,000,000 of them in the last 100 years, how many songs have been written each year in the last 100 years if it’s equal every year?
Wee ones: La la la, la la la!
Little kids: 5 minutes long. Bonus: 8 minutes.
Big kids: 5,000 years ago. Bonus: 6,000 years ago.
The sky’s the limit: 800,000 songs each year, since 80,000,000 songs were written in 100 years.
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.