silhouette of a man playing saxophone during sunset

All That Math Jazz

Author: Isabel Bozada-Jones



CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NF.B.3.C Add and subtract mixed numbers with like denominators, e.g., by replacing each mixed number with an equivalent fraction, and/or by using properties of operations and the relationship between addition and subtraction.

Background Knowledge

Prior to this lesson, students should understand the basic concept of fraction and how to add fractions with like-denominators. Basic knowledge of musical notation (whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes) would be helpful, but is not necessary. 


  1. Reflect back on students’ prior work with fractions and ask about what they have learned so far. 
  2. Explain that musical notes can be thought of like fractions and that today we are going to be working in 4/4 time signature, which is something they will learn about later, but means that a measure contains four beats and each quarter note is a beat. 
  3. Today, we are going to be starting with whole notes, which take up an entire measure, and we are going to be finding out what different rhythms are equivalent to each other. 
  4. Show students this picture of different notes. 
  1. Explain that each measure in the picture is equivalent to each other, depending on how fast the notes are, they take up different amounts of the measure, or the whole note. Show students the same picture with the equivalent fractions on it. Ask them what they notice and wonder. 
  1. Watch Using Music to Study Fractions
  2. Show students several note combinations and have them find the least common denominator to create equivalent fractions. Demonstrate how these fractions fit into measures (equal to one whole note)
  3. Have students play Jazz Math  to practice creating equivalent fractions 


  • Have students write addition and subtraction equations with different notes. Have them clap or play a percussion instrument to show the different parts of their equations. 
  • Have students create their own equivalent fractions to add to the next version of Jazz Math. How would they make the game harder? How would they make it easier? 

Potential Questions for Game

What notes are equivalent to this fraction? 

One thought on “All That Math Jazz

  1. Pingback: Warm-up Games and a Math-in-Music Lesson | Growing Math

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