Affordances of music composing software for learning mathematics at primary schools

  • Samuli Laato Department of Future Technologies, University of Turku, Finland
  • Teemu Laine Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
  • Erkki Sutinen Department of Future Technologies, University of Turku, Finland
Keywords: music technology, composing, mathematics, primary education, software review


Music composing is associated with various positive learning outcomes, but in several countries, such as Finland, it is not part of the primary school music curriculum. There are several issues as to why music composing is not taught at schools, such as beliefs that composing requires extensive knowledge of music theory, lack of teachers’ confidence, lack of evidence on the method’s effectiveness and difficulty of assessment. Composing software has the potential of solving some of these issues, as they are connected to mathematics via music theory and technology, and with practical opportunities arising from adopting phenomenon-based learning at schools, the affordances of music composing technologies for learning mathematics are investigated in this study. For this purpose, 57 music composing software were categorised and reviewed. Our analysis identified eight types of music visualisations and five types of note input methods. The music visualisations were compared to the mathematics content in the Finnish primary school curriculum and the note input methods were evaluated based on their relationship to the music visualisations. The coordinate grid-based piano roll was the most common visualisation and the tracker visualisation had the most affordances for learning primary school math. Music composing software were found to have affordances for teaching mathematical concepts, notations and basic calculus skills, among others. Composing methods involving direct interaction with visualisations support the experiential learning of music theory, and consequently, the learning of mathematics. Based on the findings of this study, we concluded that music composing is a promising activity through which mathematics and music theory can be learned at primary schools.


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How to Cite
Laato, S., Laine, T., & Sutinen, E. (2019). Affordances of music composing software for learning mathematics at primary schools. Research in Learning Technology, 27.
Original Research Articles