Vision Series: Linda Apple Monson on Music and Math

Posted: November 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Linda Apple Monson

Linda Apple Monson

Is there a way to effectively teach certain concepts in both music and math through an investigation of the common elements in these two seemingly diverse disciplines?

Pianist and Mason professor Linda Apple Monson believes there is. She will discuss “Music and Math: Bridging the Two Cultures” on Monday, Dec. 5, as part of the 2011-12 Vision Series at Mason.

Monson, an international Steinway artist, director of keyboard studies and associate director for academic affairs in Mason’s School of Music, will give her talk in the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus at 7 p.m. The event is free and no tickets are required.

Monson believes that music, which incorporates emotion, expression and creative spontaneity, also emphasizes patterns, logic, order, structure and form.

And while some characterize mathematics as rational and abstract — emphasizing numbers and calculations — mathematicians realize the inherent beauty and elegance in working out proofs.

Furthermore, Monson suggests that the creativity realized in tackling complex mathematical problems might indeed be similar to the creativity involved in composing or performing a complex musical work.

Monson’s lecture will demonstrate many similarities and connections between music and mathematics that can be taught in the classroom setting, including concepts of consonance and dissonance, tuning, Fibonacci numbers and the relationship of the golden ratio to musical climax in composition.

Arguing that both should be taught as complementary disciplines rather than opposing cultures, Monson will illustrate these corresponding concepts by performing musical examples at the piano.

Monson has been a professor in Mason’s School of Music since 1999 and was recently named a Distinguished Service Professor. A recipient of the George Mason University 2009 Teaching Excellence Award, Monson has been selected for the Fulbright Senior Specialist Roster, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

An active performer/scholar, she has given lecture-recitals, solo piano recitals and piano master classes in the United States, Europe, Asia and Central America. She is a frequent lecture-recitalist at international, national and regional conferences of the College Music Society. An advocate of new music, Monson has presented numerous solo piano world premieres.

Monson earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in music from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University and a diploma in piano from Musica en Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.



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