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What does length sound like? And 9 musical instruments for learning math.

Have you ever tried...

Have you ever tried to learn to play a musical instrument? I recently took some advice from Mo Willems and sat down with Mr. Hoffman (free online lessons) to learn to play a song on the piano. My brain hurt. And no wonder! Playing music does incredible things to the brain! 



That is just SO AWESOME!

But as a math nerd....

But as a math nerd, I also have noticed some wonderful ways to connect music to math with my kids. Today I'm sharing about how I asked my daughter to explore the answer to the question, "What does length sound like?"

We don't get to play around with the insides of a grand piano (like these guys), or have access to dulcimers, harps, or other professional instruments. But we do have the classic kid-friendly instruments laying around at home to explore like the xylophone and slide whistle.

The Courage to Offer Ideas...

This is my daughter thinking out loud about why the sound changes when she plays the slide whistle. It was one of several videos she wanted to shoot to talk about the math of music. (Some of her hypotheses are wrong but that's OK. At this age, I'm focused on cultivating curiosity and courage to offer ideas.)


Over the course of the morning she played with chimes, a harpsichord, and the slide whistle. It was a noisy morning! LOL.

What does length sound like?

At the end of all her sampling, I pointed at our digital piano and asked her about the length of the strings needed to record the low notes and the high notes. I'm sorry to say that I didn't catch that conversation in a recording. But my heart swelled when she said with excitement, "Oh! I bet the high notes are made by short strings and the low notes are made by long strings!" Then she ran off to blow the slide whistle with the birds in the back yard.

This is the type of lesson that probably wouldn't come up in a conventional math class or in a music class. But it could... If you set your intentions to discover math in new ways then you will discover a lot of math that hides in plain sight. It is often camouflaged by other things and tangled with engineering but it is there. It is deeply saturated in context, which makes it more meaningful and more memorable.


Instruments to Explore, "What does length sound like?"

These are some of our favorite things to explore the answer to, "What does length sound like?" Tell me - what are yours?!

Woodstock Chimes

  • ZENERGY TRIO: Just a gentle tap with the mallet and this hand held chime emits a powerful tone of singular beauty that lasts and lasts; lifetime tuning guarantee
  • DIMENSIONS: Frame measures 7-inches in length; 3-inches wide; 1-inch depth; includes a keyhole slot on the back so it can be installed upright on a door or wall
  • EXPERTLY CRAFTED: Features an ash wood frame with a beautiful cherry finish, 3 silver polished aluminum solid rods, mallet (mallet handle slips in between the chime and the wood for safekeeping)
  • CALM YOUR MIND OR REFOCUS A GROUP: The resonating sound not only calms and refocuses the individual, but can also focus a group -it's an effective way to start a class, meeting, yoga practice or call guests to dinner
  • QUALITY YOU CAN TRUST: Created by Grammy award-winning musician and instrument designer Garry Kvistad, Woodstock Chimes offers a unique variety of high quality, affordable chimes, gongs, musical instruments and more that inspire, entertain and bring pleasure to people of all ages


A note about how we use these chimes in our family... I have wanted to create a habit of gratitude in our family. However, when faced with writing something down or saying something daily at the same time every day (dinner/bedtime), I just couldn't hold to the commitment. So I bought "Happy Chimes" and set them in the heart of our home with a poem. 

Before you play the Happy Chime
share your memory of a Happy Time.
The sound will ring long and true
and bring more blessings to me and you.

Now we celebrate the things for which we are grateful spontaneously and throughout the day! 

WEFUN Xylophone for Kids

  • ♫EXQUISITE PRESENT- With well-made and 8-Note vibrantly colored metal keys,two plastic mallets and bonus a cute whistle ,WEfun xylophone toy set is well wrapped with a pretty box. It will be an exquisite present and definitely loved by babies and children
  • ♫ACCURATELY TUNED-Each key in this toy xylophone, matches their assigned notes for a great learning and musical experience. It’s made from premium quality materials so it’s a toy that’s meant to last with the tone to provide a much better sound
  • ♫CHILD-SAFE-Made of pine,the glockenspiel xylophone is BPA Free, Lead Free, Phthalate Free so it’s non-toxic and there’s no chemical smell.Kids can play with this toy instrument indoors or outdoors. It’s a fun game and learning toy for your children
  • ♫EDUCATIONAL AND ENTERTAINING-A toddler toy that also functions as a classic musical instrument that’s perfect for your little ones.Introduce your beginner musicians to music by learning to play this adorable musical toy.And 8 vibrant multi-color keys kids xylophone can help children identify the color,exercise the children’s eye and hand coordination ability as well as creative play, artistic expression, and fine motor skills
  • ♫IDEAL BEGINNER INSTRUMENT-Wooden xylophone is an ideal beginner instrument for your future artists. Inspire them with this colorful and classical wood xylophone, letting them see in a new and more artistic way. This Child’s xylophone is perfect for a music teacher in school classroom to Create Beautiful Melodies for little musicians

Nino Percussion NINO556 Wood Stirring Drum with Handle & Beater, Natural Finish

  • Made of environmentally sustainable Rubber Wood
  • Ergonomically shaped handle
  • Includes wooden beater
  • 8 tuned wooden tongues
  • Age rating: 3+


Award Winning Hape Happy Harp Kid's Wooden Musical Instrument 

  • Creates lovely music with a pleasant soft sound
  • Well suited to little hands with a desire for realistic sound
  • All nylon strings for comfort and safety
  • Includes playing and tuning tips as well as five songs to begin playing, two picks, and a tuning wrench
  • Hape toys are all non-toxic, child safe, and of the highest quality

Schylling Wooden Slide Whistle Toy

  • A classic, solid wood slide whistle that brings back great childhood memories
  • Play songs, imitate birds, make funny sounds or create unique video sound tracks, it's limited only by your musical imagination
  • High quality construction ensures a smooth transition from low to high notes
  • This 8 inch long whistle (11.5 inches extended) is a fun, educational and creative experience
  • For ages 3 and above


American Slide Whistle, Made in the USA of Nickle-plated Brass

  • Made in Chicago, USA since 1920’s;  nickel-plated brass exclusively for Woodstock
  • Ages 3 years and up; whistle is 12.5-inches long
  • Popular whistle has a range of 2+ octaves. 
  • Comes with a gift box and song sheet
  • Originally developed for use on the vaudeville stage; fun for grown-up kids, cartoon sound effects, and band

Treeworks Chimes

  • PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS | Given its range, this model is perfect for performances when a brief chime effect is needed. As one of our smaller models, this chime is convenient and versatile, making it a great choice for beginners looking to add some shimmer to their music.
  • PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA | Each TreeWorks Chimes product is made from Tennessee hardwood and locally sourced aluminum/titanium and is assembled in our workshop just north of Nashville, TN.
  • A CHIME YOU CAN HOLD IN ONE HAND | This is our only chime suspended from a braided nylon cord and the only model that can be held in one hand. Our braided nylon cord handle is one of the strongest and most durable cords available and is designed to withstand the test of time.
  • HAND-CRAFTED FOR SUPERIOR DURABILITY | Long-lasting braided CordLoc is used to susped our 3/8" thick Aluminum/Titatnium alloy bars on a hand-finished Tennessee hardwood mantle. Unlike other brands, we always source our materials locally and reject the use of plastic ties to secure our bars to our mantles.


Thumb Piano

  • ♫ Rigorous Raw Materials Selection: 17 keys Kalimba thumb piano is handcrafted with high-quality material and ore steel bars. Natural air-dried wood provides ethereal timbre, which is a wonderful match with the natural wood grain.
  • ♫ Embossed Notes & Hand-rest Curve Design: The keys are embossed with letters and notes, different from other stickers notes finger piano. Hand-rest Curve Design is to the correct angle ergonomically.
  • ♫ Easy To Play: 5 minutes to learn a song. After you placed your order, you will receive the play guidance and tips to play a song easily in 5 minutes. Suitable for beginners, kids, and professionals.
  • ♫ Product Includes: thumb piano, tune hammer, instruction book, stickers, flannelette bag, cleaning fabric. Contact us to get an additional electronic songbook for free!
  • ♫ GUARANTEE & WARRANTY: 60 days warranty, 60 days unconditional return guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the musical instruments, please feel free to contact us at any time.


  • Set includes all 8 pitches from C to c on a diatonic scale (white keys on the piano).
  • Colored-coded for each pitch. Great for any age and ability!
  • Octavator caps included to lower each tube by one octave.
  • Can create a sound on most surfaces, including body.
  • Highly durable and lightweight


 A note about Boomwhackers - they are sort of big. The longest one is the length of my arm. We like to take two at a time (one in each hand) and hit them on things in the back yard. With four people you could even play a song that spans these eight notes!

No one should slave over worksheets so I wrote the guide for learning math from everyday life...because when the world is your classroom you are free to learn math that matters.

Get started for free today. 

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