Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sing a Song for Making Sense

I'm always on the lookout for a good math song.  Partly because I like the idea of math songs for immersion, but also because I'm just a geek and like them.  Thought I'd share what I've got, and hope that people might add their 2 cents.  Please?  Links to youtube where available, amazon or another source if it's out there.  Of course, this is music on the internet, so beware of piracy and anti-piracy.

Best of the Best:
What About 10?  - Dino 5, hippest counting song ever.  Even made our family's dance mix.

Tom Lehrer:
Could go in best of the best, but instead he gets his own category.  Just heard he stopped performing because he went back to being a math teacher.  There's a new collection of his work that includes a DVD.  Sounds like a must buy.

New Math.  Greatest. Math. Song. Ever.

That's Mathematics.
What the heck, Werner Von Braun.  (Actual video of Lehrer playing.)

They Might Be Giants have a whole album of math songs, one song each for important numbers, including the counting numbers, pi and infinity.  (Infinity's not a number, I hear you say.  But it is a cardinality... go ask Cantor.)

Sesame Street:
Obviously a great source of number songs.  Televison Tunes has many of these available - check out his Sesame Street songs.  My favorites are the Alligator King (7), King of 8, the Pinball Song, and, for the man himself, Song of the Count.

Schoolhouse Rock:
Again, at Television Tunes.  My favorites:  I Got Six (That's all there is), Elementary (Animals coming off the ark in pairs), and the phenomenal Three is Magic Number.

Average Guy - Song of the Lakes (life is hard in the middle; way better than Joe Walsh's same named different song.)
Statistician's Blues -Todd Snider (adult humor, but funny)

Multiplication - Animaniacs, works through the standard algorithm for 47x83.  Which is somehow funny.
Shape of the Sum - I Love Math (no, really)
15 to 20 - Phenomenal Handclap Band (counting by 5s)
1234 - Feist
National Pi Day - TJ Zmina (to the tune of a Lehrer song; hence, better.)  Hat tip: Richard Zucker.
One Was Johnny - Carole King

Probably only math in my head:
Multiplication - Bobby Darin
Sdrawkcab Klat (Talk Backwards) - Steve Goodman, I use this to teach inverses and solving linear equations.
1234567 - 1000 Robota, German punk counting. I don't speak German, so apologies if it's offensive.
Seasons of Love - Rent.  (I had a student that knew this by heart and laughed when I asked them to find how many seconds in a year.)

Math is a Wonderful Thing - Jack Black from the School of Rock
Math Sucks - Jimmy Buffet

Plea for help:  Denise at Let's Play Math! posted some calculus song videos, which combined with the new Tom Lehrer release that I heard about on Fresh Air  finally got me to do this post.  I haven't gotten too much into the homebrew stuff on YouTube.  If you have any suggestions for more math songs, please put it in the comments!  I especially love pop songs with accidental math.  I haven't used songs for memorizing ever, but I know some teachers love them.  Have you had a good experience with them?

Someone needs to make this song.  Also, the song I'm alluding to in the title seems ripe for a math version.  "Sing a song of making sense, pocketful of why, four and twenty problems, one of them with pi..."


  1. William Avery's ( ) multiplication songs went over well with third-graders I played them for last year.

    MC Hawking puts in a nice amount of physics, but his lyrics are too salty for mixed company.

  2. This is T.J. Zmina of National Pi Day quasi-fame, someone just brought it to my attention that this was up here, and I wanted to say hello