SWEET SOUNDS OF PURE MATH; FRACTIONS CHIME KIDS' BELLS AT ACTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
A national trend to include elements of music in math instruction has come to the Antelope Valley with a new twist.
Instead of clapping hands, banging drums or pecking at piano keys, students at Acton Elementary School will be ringing bells to learn basic and advanced math skills.
Students in Larry Rowland's sixth-grade class will use bells as a means of learning how music involves mathematical concepts. Time signature depends on fractions - like 2/4 time or 6/8 time - and rhythm includes decimals, as for dotted notes that are half again longer than the undotted notes.
``A music class is dependent on math, but a math class is not dependent on music,'' said Rowland. ``I would like to show how strong the connection between the two is. The students will be learning both and won't even know it.''
Rowland, who has an extensive background in both music and math, initially tried to get the bells through the school budget or grants.
Unsuccessful at that, he began approaching companies that manufacture bells. In his first attempt he contacted Schulmerich Bells, headquartered in Sellersville, Pa. The company president, Sam Holland, was so fascinated with the idea that Schulmerich Bells donated hand bells worth several thousand dollars. Each bell plays a specific note on the keyboard, from C through B, including all sharps and flats.
``We are fortunate to have a president who is so passionate about the art and beauty of bells,'' said Henrietta Rotelle, corporate communications manager for Schulmerich Bells. ``We heard the idea of combining the music of our bells in a math program, and money was just no object. We had to see if this would really work.''
The company immediately shipped the bells to the school, and the program began to take shape.
``This company just donated these bells on the basis of our idea, and they did it so quickly we're still in shock,'' said Rowland. ``This is an excellent starter kit, and we can begin working with the structure of the program now.''
Rowland will use the donated bells in a volunteer after-school program as early as September. He is seeking donations to buy more bells so the program can be implemented in a regular classroom format.
With bells for 12 students to use, Rowland wants enough for an entire class of 30 students.
``The big picture would be to let the students be the presenters and the speakers to show how the bells apply to the music and math program,'' said Rowland. ``The kids seem to enjoy it so much. I think it will be easy to put this together.''
PHOTO (1--Color in AV Edition only) Ringing bells, sixth graders in Larry Rowland's class at Acton Elementary School use music to learn math, too. A manufacturer donated a scale of musical bells to launch Rowland in his effort to acquire them for 30 students.
(2--Color in AV Edition only) Rowland leads students in a demonstration of mathematical concepts in music. The students can play every note on a piano keyboard with their bells.
(3--Color in AV Edition only) Eileen Boylan, 11, finds musical rhythm and tones amid decimals and fractions.
Jeff Goldwater/Daily News