Number Drummer creator, Troy Kryzalka, has worked in music education for over 15 years and has delivered his integrated math and music learning approach to thousands of children and educators. He has an amazing ability to reach creative “outside the box” thinkers that have been discouraged by the traditional ways of learning, and because of his focus on mathematics in music, he represents the increased value and importance of music in schools. Combining his musical ability, mathematical perspective, and creative teaching methods, Troy inspires, engages, and motivates children to understand math and music from a fresh new perspective, regardless of age or ability.
Number Drummer was created from an experience in Troy’s life. Because of a childhood eye injury, Troy taught himself music using mathematics. Using his method, he graduated with his education degree as a music specialist, and now teaches and performs using this approach. Along with presenting Number Drummer Live shows across the United States, Troy is developing a Number Drummer mobile application and an interactive children’s television show that is built upon his learning approach. Troy also teaches, has an after-school percussion academy, provides workshops, artist residencies, corporate team building sessions, and professional development for educators.
Contact Us to learn how you could have the opportunity to experience a workshop or live interactive production near you. We would love to hear from you.
The story began when I was a child. The “Number Drummer” approach was simply the way I saw music, but over time evolved into a method for learning and performing music through math and math through music. It demonstrates how mathematics can be seen, heard, and performed as music and how music can be seen, heard and understood as mathematics.
The need for this learning method was created by a circumstance in my own life. When they say, “Don’t throw that because someone could lose an eye!”, there is some truth to that. When I was 5 years old, my brother threw a plastic card across the room and it cut my right cornea. I did not go blind, but it greatly impacted my vision. I was left with one functional eye and an injured eye that was like looking through a drinking glass full of water. This affected my ability to sight read music because the musical notes looked like fuzzy spots floating on the page. My elementary music teacher even advised my mother to discourage any future music training because “music was not my thing.” Even though I did not take any formal music lessons as a kid, I still enrolled in the music program in college. I quickly faced the same musical challenges of my childhood, but using math I found success. I had discovered that music could be seen from a mathematical perspective. As I studied it, listened to it, practiced it, and created it, I realized the depth of the mathematics within the music. Mathematics could be a musical translation and path to learning music, just as music could be a mathematical representation and a path to learning math.
As a teacher, this automatically became my method for teaching young children math and music, but there was several years where the mathematical framework behind the method was not even realized or revealed to the students that were experiencing success through it. Students would simply come to my classroom and learn music through this non-traditional method. Children were so focused on playing the drums or other instruments that the math used to learn the music drew secondary attention. It is like the movie, “The Karate Kid”. When Daniel paints the fence, sands the floor, and waxes the cars, he does not realize he is learning Karate. Number Drummer is kind of like that. Students learn music skills using mathematics. Every participant is given an instrument when entering the venue, and after a brief introduction, begins to play a sequence of math skills, such as addition, multiplication, fractions, and more. By the end of the show, the audience has the musical skills needed to play in the big “grand finale” performance. It’s that “Wow!” moment that says, “I can’t believe I just learned to play an instrument using math!”
Over the past 15 years, there has been many benefits to this approach, not to mention the spectacular performances that students were able to create. Today, the system and method is taking on many new forms. Number Drummer is venturing into an interactive realm that has never been done before (stay tuned for that). Number Drummer Live interactive shows and sessions are being presented across the U.S. The Number Drummer mobile app is in development, and the Number Drummer children’s TV pilot is in the development process. The future is very exciting and lots is happening, so I hope you will stay connected and join me on the rest of this story. I would love for you to be a part of it.
There has always been known connections between math and music. Many educators make these connections, but for the most part music is used as a mnemonic device (e.g. singing a multiplication song), or as a symbolic comparison that offers conceptual meaning (e.g. one quarter note = one fourth fraction), but does not provide applied understanding (e.g. musically performing mathematical equivalents rather than musical notation). New research shows that the greatest impact on understanding is by creating a multi-modal learning experience (e.g. visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory), and the impact is even greater if the learning experience is also interactive (e.g. multimedia, real-world, project-based, etc.)
Number Drummer is built upon a multi-modal experience and is packed with educational benefits. It utilizes technology as an interactive platform and positive learning tool. It allows children with mathematical and musical intelligence to shine and excel. It unveils gifts and talents regardless of age, ability or disability, and fosters creativity. It provides a pathway for every learning style and is differentiated through its layered skills and multi-level framework. Special needs children or struggling learners do not feel isolated or singled out because their level of ability can simultaneously occur with other ability levels. Every participant has a chance to be independently successful, yet still be a part of a team. Number Drummer’s educational potential is immense, and best of all, no experience is required.
Number Drummer also integrates literacy skills, along with other important subject matter. Throughout this method, there are integrated lessons on letter sounds, syllabication, health and nutrition, character building, cultural awareness, science and social studies. One of the underlying goals of Number Drummer is to demonstrate how learning about a particular subject requires the experience and understanding of many areas. Children will discover that while they may struggle with a particular math skill, they may excel in understanding the context it was presented in. A child might not fully understand the concept of dividing, but they fully understand the meaning of sharing.
As it has been since its beginning, Number Drummer captivates and motivates children to learn without drawing attention to the work involved. Parents are always looking for ways to disguise vegetables into a favorite dish; Number Drummer is that favorite dish. You get all the mathematical nutrition and musical benefits disguised as captivating interactive entertainment.
We hope that one day you will have the opportunity to experience and be impacted by Number Drummer. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.