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Painting with Sound


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Keywords: visual art, painting, art, music, digital learning, Soundtrap, Garageband, classical, cross-curricular
Subject(s): Art, Technology, Music
Grades 3 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
View Full Text of Standards
School: High Point Academy, Aurora, CO
Planned By: Jessica Lawdan
Original Author: Jessica Lawdan, Aurora
This lesson plan follows the Workshop Model for a 45 minutes class. The lesson follows Colorado State standards for Music, but can easily be adapted to fit Common Core.

(Before class, gather small pictures or flashcards with different pieces of art on them for the size of your class. A quick search of 'Free Art Flash Cards' on Teachers Pay Teachers will give you plenty of options!)

Greeting/Energizer (2-3 minutes): Depending on grade level...

Grades 3-5--Listen to an excerpt of "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky while teacher takes attendance/checks in with students around the classroom.
Grades 6-8--Have "Vincent" by Don MacLean playing as students enter and give a high five, hand shake, or hug to two people in class while students gather materials and teacher takes attendance.

Do Now (3-5 minutes): Show a famous piece of art ('Starry Night' by Vincent Von Gogh, 'The Persistence of Memory' by Salvador Dali, or your own favorite!) to the students along with the following elements: Color, Lines, Patterns, Shapes, Mood. Ask students to describe or journal their responses to how they would describe each category in the picture.

Mini-Lesson (5 minutes): Display the Learning Target, "I can create a piece of music based on art". Explain that the song you listened to at the start of class was inspired by art, and that students will be following the example on their own today. Student will pick a card and using it as inspiration to create a piece of music on their given instruments/technology (this is taking into account that students are already familiar with how to use instruments/how to open and start a project on a digital audio workstation such as Soundtrap or Garageband). By the end of the lesson, students will have to have a song that fits the following 3 criteria

1. Your song must be between between 30 seconds-1 minute long (or 8-24 measures, depending on which concepts you're learning in class)
2. Your song must incorporate at least 3 of the elements (Color, Lines, Patterns, Shape, Mood)
3. You must be able to explain your choice of why your song fits each element (either using musical vocabulary learned in class or other justifications).

Give an example of various interpretations of texture, color, and mood on an instrument or have a student leader show examples of what they think. Explain that while they should be able to justify they choice, the creativity is totally up to them!

Work Time (15 -20 minutes): Depending on class size/temperament, dismiss students to groups or individual work spaces to begin their composition. Circle the class regularly to answer questions, give feedback, and offer suggestions while letting students have total ownership of their musical creativity.

Check-In (2-3 minutes): Call class back to attention from their work spots and, depending on how they are doing with the project, point out positive attributes in their classmates' work or lead students to answer common questions amongst the group. If students are doing exceptionally well, add an element of challenge such as picking a second pictures that they need to come up with a theme for to create a more advanced musical form (such as Rondo or ABA). Have students return to work time and continue listening and assessing as you go.

Cleanup/Debrief (3-5 minutes): Give students ample time to put away instruments, technology, and visual reference cards. Bring students back to revisit the learning target--What was hard about this concept? What was easy? Did anyone discover anything they want to share before we leave today? Finally, ask students to self-grade using a thumb up, a number on their hand, or another method: how do you feel you hit today's Learning Target? 1=beginning to understand, 4=exceeds the target
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
-Use student artwork displayed around school, collaborate with visual arts
-Use poetry or other descriptive writing, collaborate with ELA
Follow-Up
Do the activity in reverse--have students create song pictures/original compositions based on their own ideas and have a different student draw their reactions, write descriptive imagery/poetry inspired by what they hear.
Materials: Whiteboards, Mobile Labs, Microphones, Headsets, Early Composition, Sound Libraries, Midi Instruments, Integrating Technology
Other Items: 25 Image Cards (can be found on the internet), $free each