We are beginning a new school year which is a new opportunity to begin using classical music in the classrooms during class and in the hallways and on school buses to and from school. Classical music playing in the background helps students to relax, allowing them to concentrate and do a better job on their work.

Our Radio Show for September 2013 features Maryl Arbuckle Case , master mathematics teacher since 1963, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a lifelong musician, playing the violin and viola.

Maryl Case, how did you use classical music in your classes to teach high school math to your students in Colorado and what were the results?


Our blog features Maryl Arbuckle Case, master mathematics teacher and violinist. She has taught in middle school, high school, and in college since 1963.  She is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, a lifelong musician, playing the violin and viola. Maryl Case is passionate about her family, teaching mathematics and playing music.

Mrs. Case has four generations of musicians in her family. Her parents both played musical instruments, she and her sister both play the violin, her two sons play several musical instruments and her three grandchildren also play musical instruments and Mrs. Case’s husband Jim is also a musician.

Mrs. Case’s family also has 3 generations of teachers. Her paternal grandmother was a teacher, she and her sister are math teachers, and her sons are also teachers.

In her last high school teaching position she was the only high school math teacher. She taught Alg. I, II, plane geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus.  She has had students graduate from some of the top universities in Colorado and other states.  She says, “Most of the students who went on to college had also been in our school band.”

After marrying her husband she traveled with him and played viola in the Ft. Collins Symphony Orchestra  (Ft. Collins, CO), the Valley Symphony  (Victorville, CA), the Valley Symphony (Delta, CO), and traveled with the Frankisher Koncert Orchester of Bamberg, Germany.  She has also given many violin, viola, and piano lessons over the years.

Maryl Berta Arbuckle Case’s Growing Up Years:

Maryl  Berta Arbuckle  was born in Delta, CO. to Thelma Poe Arbuckle and Ralph Arbuckle.  Her parents moved when she was 3 months old to San Diego, California.  Eventually her father worked in a job supporting the WWII efforts in San Diego.  So, she grew up in San Diego County. Her mother played the coronet in her high school and college bands and her father played trombone in his high school and college bands.

Mrs. Case  says, “I began private violin lessons at the age of 5.  It all began when our family was shopping and came across a music store window display.  I asked my folks what those things were in the window.  After answering my question they asked me if I would like one of those violins for myself.  So, we went into the store and bought a quarter sized violin for me.  My 3 year old sister was told she had to wait to get one for herself.  My sister began studying the violin at 5 years of age. She later played in the same junior high, high school, and youth orchestras as I did. When we get together we play the Bach Double Violin Concerto.”

While in elementary school, middle school and high school did you play in the school orchestras?

Mrs. Case says, “While in third grade at Chollas View Elementary school in San Diego, California I had the privilege of playing in a school district orchestra once a week.  Mr. Parrott was a very patient teacher and conductor.  At Lincoln Junior-senior high in San Diego where I attended seventh grade I worked my way up to concert mistress of the 80 piece high school orchestra under Mr. Braun.  While an eighth grade student at La Mesa Junior High (San Diego County) I played in the small junior high string orchestra.  During high school at Helix High (La Mesa) I played in the 80 piece high school orchestra.  From tenth grade through most of college I played third stand first violins in the 80 piece Civic Youth Orchestra (CYO) conducted by Daniel Lewis and Larry Christianson.  The newspaper critics said at one point that we were better than the San Diego Symphony.  I also played in the first violins at San Diego State College for 3 years under Paul Anderson.”

When did you become interested in mathematics?

Mrs. Case says, “In fourth grade when I was 9 years old I became interested in mathematics. I had an excellent teacher, Mrs. Erb, who emphasized arithmetic and made sure we knew how to use analytic thinking processes.”

Did you enjoy taking math and science in elementary school, junior high, and high school?

Mrs. Case says, “In those days we called the subject “arithmetic” in grades K-6 because real math was not until we studied algebra. In junior high (7th and 8th grade) I had two women “math” teachers.  Miss Benbough and Miss Mc Lean were amazing with their patience and teaching ability.  Yes, I did enjoy all of the classes.  At an exceptional high school, Helix High (La Mesa,CA), I began 9th grade with algebra 1 and finished high school in 1959 with trigonometry, solid geometry, and calculus.  Again, I had exceptional teachers.  The teacher I had the most times was Mr. Braun, a WWII veteran.  All of my Helix High teachers were exceptional, including the math and science teachers.  I took biology, chemistry, and physics at Helix.”

Were you a good student in elementary school, middle school, and high school?

Mrs. Case says, “Most people would probably say I was a good student, but I got straight A’s in 7th grade, only.  I had lots of outside interests at school and outside of school.”

What did studying the violin teach you? Mrs. Case says, “I learned fractions by reading music, coordination, gained physical strength throughout my entire body, how to be patient with myself and others, how to stay motivated, and that giving up on improving was not an option.  I also took piano lessons for 3 years.”

If you have any favorite stories growing up involving playing the violin or viola, please share them.

Mrs. Case says, “At the age of 5 , my first recital was one to not forget since I forgot to play a B flat in my beginner’s piece.  The teacher came on stage to tell me that I knew better and that I should replay my piece.  I was so embarrassed that I could not play alone again until recently when I played Kol Nidre on viola at Ohr Shalom for services and then played it at a Collbran Community recital where we now live.  I have many favorite stories, but one that stays with me is from music camp at Western State College (1958) in Gunnison, CO when we premiered one of Ferde Grofe’s orchestra pieces.”

What was your favorite subject in high school and what is the name and city where you graduated from high school? 

Mrs. Case says, “I do not remember having a favorite subject in high school.  Every experience was exciting.  I graduated from Helix High School in La Mesa, CA in 1959.”

Who were your favorite mentors/teachers in high school and what subjects did they teach?

Mrs. Case says, “I liked most of my teachers.  Mr. Braun was the best math teacher and Daniel Lewis was an amazing orchestra teacher.  I have never heard a better high school orchestra than the one I played in.  Our senior math class with Mr. Braun won all top honors in a math test competition in all of San Diego.  I had no trouble taking any college math classes after having him as a teacher.”

Where did you go to college and graduate school? What was your major and what degrees did you receive?

Mrs. Case, “I received a BA degree in Math Education at San Diego State, a Master in Education degree from Colorado State University in math, and did advanced course work towards my Ph.D. with Walden University. I was also certified in special education from the University of Northern Colorado.”

Did you continue playing your violin in the College orchestra and graduate school orchestra?

Mrs. Case, “Yes, I played under Paul Anderson at San Diego State for 3 years  and later played viola under Will Schwartz with the Fort Collins, CO Symphony Orchestra while working on the master’s degree and teaching for Thompson Valley School District in Berthoud, CO.”

Who were your favorite mentors/teachers in College and graduate school and what subjects did they teach? 

Mrs. Case says, “At San Diego State I had Gilbert Back for a violin teacher and at Colorado State University, I studied viola with the very best Mrs. Emmons.  At Colorado State my advisor, Dr. Fisher, made me realize that I did have a lot more ability for math and music than I had dreamed. ”

What grades and math classes have you taught in middle school and high school?  Mrs. Case says, “I have taught all grades from 7th grade through high school and taught math from arithmetic and business math through calculus.”

What math classes have you taught in college?

Mrs. Case says, “I supervised student teachers and taught one computer class, plus the math classes at Mesa State College, taught math for elementary teachers and many math classes at Western State College, and various math classes as extension classes for various American universities (on military bases) in Germany and California.  The college math classes include college algebra, math for elementary teachers, and calculus.”

Did your children study musical instruments when they were in school?

Mrs. Case says, “My husband and I have two sons.  They both play violin and trumpet.  They began private trumpet lessons in California.  They both played violin at school from 4th grade on, studied privately with me, and later with a teacher at Colo. State Univ.   They also learned how to play in a jazz band at their junior high school in Loveland, CO.  The younger son now also plays the classical guitar.  The older one stayed with the violin. My sons and I played and traveled with the Frankisher Koncert Orchester in Bamberg, Germany when they were in high school and my husband was stationed there.”

Do your children still play musical instruments and what are their careers?

Mrs. Case says, Both our sons continue to play their musical instruments. Our oldest son is an administrator for the special ed. program in Lampasas, TX.  He passed all of the academic qualifying tests for every subject in Texas.  So, one year he taught an algebra class.  He also sponsors the HAM Radio club for the students in Lampasas as well as Adventure Scout activities.  He has a master’s degree in school administration.  He speaks German fluently.”

“Our youngest son is beginning work on a Ph.D. in applied statistics at Colo. State Univ.  He also does contract work for the U.N. teaching public health groups how to develop computer programs.  He speaks several languages and has a master’s degree in public health.  He has been involved in several research projects.”

Do your Grandchildren study musical instruments? 

Mrs. Case says, “Our oldest granddaughter plays the violin and wishes to have her son play violin when he gets older than he is today.  He was born Thanksgiving day 2012.  She is married, has a baby, and is a college student. Our grandson played trumpet in the school band.  He just finished his freshman year at the Univ. of Texas studying to be an environmental engineer.  His sister is a junior in high school and has played in the school band, too.”

Maryl Case how did you use classical music in your classes to teach high school math to your students in Colorado and what were the results?

Mrs. Case, “The students asked for music in class. I told them I would play only Mozart. At first they objected but soon decided they liked the music, because it made them feel better and able to focus more on their lessons. Consequently, not only did the grades get better, so did the discipline. Then the students began requesting music by Mozart.”

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For more scientific evidence, medical evidence, test results, and true stories of the world’s scientists, medical doctors, and mathematicians who have studied and played musical instruments since they were children read “The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. Click on the link:


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“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award. For more information click on the following link: