one, two, THREE, one, two, THREE

24 May

2 -4 – 6 – 8 – 10 – 12 – 14 – 16 – 18 – 20 – 24 – 26 – 28 – 30…

3 – 6 – 9 – 12 – uhhh….

I’ve heard about a late musicologist who strongly believed that the predominance of 4/4 music in our pop culture (think of the driving beat in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”) deprives our children of ease in manipulating odd numbers. In other words, our pop music leads our children to be able to count by two’s easier than they can count by three’s. His theory was that if you increase a child’s exposure to music in 3/4 time (or 6/8 or 9/8) that they would build the brain structures to process odd numbers more easily and efficiently.

Now, I don’t know the name of this musicologist, so I don’t have access to any of his research findings, but here’s a little something that I discovered at home with my daughter, quite by accident. Last summer, we were counting by two’s and three’s as a way to get ready to memorize times tables (as the two’s and the three’s are building blocks for multiplication). She nailed the two’s, but the three’s were really hard. The book we were using suggested that we put a “dot-dot” before each 3, 6, 9, etc. in the counting-by-three’s progression. So I started saying, out loud, “Dot-dot-three, dot-dot-six, dot-dot-nine, dot-dot-twelve.” (Try saying that string out loud now, so you can hear what it sounds like.) My daughter turned to me right away and said, “Hey! That’s just like the waltzes I play on the piano!” Now, her piano “waltzes” are those super-easy, Book-One kind of waltzes, where “Mike-and-May… like-to-play… in-the-hay…” We’re not talking Strauss here. But, who cares! She heard the rhythm of “dot-dot-three” and remembered playing “Mike-and-May.” That connection made, counting by three’s became easier and way more fun. Very cool stuff.


Put on a waltz (“Dancing with Teddy,” perhaps or, “I’m a Bell”), grab your child, and dance around the living room. Maybe say, out loud, “One, two, THREE, one, two, THREE…” as you’re turning around and around. One day, your child might turn to you while counting by three’s and say, “Hey! That’s just like that Teddy song we dance to!” Wouldn’t that be cool?


2 Responses to “one, two, THREE, one, two, THREE”

  1. Liz K. May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Anne, great stuff! I’ve been printing out your posts to bring to my own MT classes, and PE moments have become PE discussions. Going to try this dot dot rule with my own son and will let you (and my classes) know how it goes.

    Thanks again!


    • annesailer May 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Oh, that’s wonderful, Liz! Thanks for letting me know! — Anne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: