Celebrating Children's Mathematical Thinking Through Music

June 04, 2012

Joy of X band

For 17 years, Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer Bob Hallett has played songs about East-Coast fishing and pub- life with his award-winning band, Great Big Sea. But on Thursday, May 26th, at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa, Ontario, Hallett turned his talents to singing songs about parallelism and infinity.

Hallett joined the Joy of X, a math band composed of musicians and graduate students from the Faculty of Education, for an evening of musical performances about mathematics. The evening concert featured music and lyrics based on the SSHRC-funded research of George Gadanidis, Associate Professor at Western Education. Along with Hallett, Tracy Bone, J.C. Campbell, and Moira Burke, the Joy of X performed for a full audience of parents, students, and teachers songs such as “Infinity in my Hand,” “Dots, Clocks, and Waves,” and “More Homework Like This.” Gadanidis described the value this arts-based event in making learning about mathematics fun and effective for youth:  “Young children have amazing math minds, and these songs share their thinking while engaged with complex math ideas.”

Ricardo Scucuglia, a PhD student, research assistant, and Joy of X band member, also noted that the concert helped to promote through music enjoyment in students’ mathematical knowledge. “I loved it,” Scucuglia recounted, “when I saw the big crowd and many kids very excited and dancing all over the theater.” The math concert also gave its graduate student performers a chance to experience student appreciation outside of the mathematics classroom. Scucugulia remembered after the concert that “When I was autographing students’ posters, I realized that, although I had a long experience in a rock band, this was the first time I was experiencing such a unique moment!”

Details about the concert can be found at More information on Gadanidis’ research, which is funded by SSHRC, KNAER, and the Field’s Institute, is available at Videos of the concert will be posted on this site soon.

Joy of X band

Ricardo Scucuglia (PhD student) singing a song in Portuguese from a classroom in Rio Claro, Brazil.

Ann Langeman and Bob Hallett

Ann Langeman, an Western Education Alumnus, who created the event's math art, signs math posters of her work for students and parents. Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea is standing beside her.

Joy of X’s math concert at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa

Joy of X’s math concert at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa, with Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea and Aboriginal recording artists Tracy Bone and J.C. Campbell.