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Art and Music

Drawing to Music

Objective: Within the world of creative expression, art and music are like close family relatives of each other. Often as parents and/or educators we feel more comfortable with one over the other, but when both art forms are brought together and connected into one project, amazing things can happen! In this activity, music becomes the art prompt. It is always amazing to see how attuned kids are to music if they listen with intent.
This is a great one to do side by side with your child. Just as in visual artmaking, the beauty of listening to music together is to connect with each other and the world with sound.
Materials: Heavy weight paper or cardstock, white crayon or oil pastel, watercolor paints

  • Children should first “warm up” their listening ears by asking them to close their eyes and have them listen to all the sounds they hear over the course of a minute. After the minute is up, have them share the many sounds they heard. Writing them down is helpful because it is often surprising how many there were in just a short amount of time.
  • Play a piece of music, or a selection of a piece of music. One can start with something very lively and energic- African drumming for example. If they want, the child can get up and dance. Afterwards, talk about how the piece made them feel and how it encouraged their body to move.
  • Sitting down, replay the piece of music while they draw with their pastel on paper. Have them move their hand around the paper in a similar fashion to how they moved their body when dancing. Likely, their movements will be sharp and the pace quick. This activity is unique because they can’t really see what it is they are drawing because of the white on white. You may have to remind them that this activity is more about movement and feeling rather than representational art. Ideally, they do not draw something in reality, but end up with more of an abstract line drawing.
  • Lastly, once their line drawing is complete, they can add color with watercolor paints while again listening to the music. Ask them what colors come to mind. Are they bold and bright or calm and subdued? This step becomes an oil resist painting where you can remind them they do not have to paint around their lines, but rather can fill the paper with color by painting right over their drawing marks. Oil and water do not mix so the lines will show right through the paint.
  • Repeat all of the above steps to create a second painting where the music selection is very different from the first. Classical or instrumental jazz are great choices.
  • Discuss the outcome and engage in a conversation about the connection between art and music. How are aspects of the songs similar to the visual piece they created?