4th Grade: Abstract Music Paintings

IMG_9783After working on observational leaf paintings for a few weeks, I wanted students to have a different painting experience. For this lesson, students created abstract paintings while listening to music. The goal was to “try and translate the song–the sounds you hear, speeds you feel, and emotions you experience–into lines, shapes, and colors.” I played four different instrumental songs and encouraged students to think about different ways they could use their paint and brushes to describe the sounds.

Here are some of their reflections :

Which song was your favorite? Why did you like it best?

E: “The second song because [the painting I made of it] is very colorful and has wavy lines”.

N: “The third song because mine looks like a rainbow monster. The song sounded very colorful.”

T: “The fourth song because I put more dots [in my painting] because I thought it matched the sounds in the song.”

What did you like about making these paintings?

J: “It was fun because one of the songs was electric music and I was thinking about a humongous blue lightning explosion.”

E: “I liked that you get to do the pictures in your unique way.”

M: “For the first song, I thought it was really slow so I let my brush do it’s own thing.”

G: “That you could make them weird and use different colors that you probably wouldn’t always use.”

B: “With both art and music you can translate the notes into colors, shapes, and flavors. Like ‘That note is… definitely this color or this flavor.’ The third song I thought about it as flavors and I was able to translate [the sound] into a deep purple.”

R: “I liked that none of the songs started out the way that they ended. Some started out slow and then went fast. You got different pieces and could use different types of paints [to make the different sounds.]”

C: “I liked that we were more free… listening to the music and trying to turn it into colors seemed more creative.”

L: “We had a lot of freedom finding out what colors the song would be.”

What was difficult about this process?

A: “It was hard not to turn things into pictures because some kids who like to run might want to turn [a song] into somebody running. One of the songs reminded me of the beach and I wanted to paint the beach.”

M: “Trying to paint the one that had words.”

A: “It was hard choosing the colors because you don’t always know what color to make something.”

T: “The fourth song was really hard because all the colors that I put looked really messy. So then I used the end of the brush (the pointy part) and scraped it and then it looked like a huge rainbow underneath.”

O: “Not drawing things that I know. In the fourth song I really wanted to paint a person.”

F: “For different sounds in the songs, you had to match the color. For the last one it was hard to find the color to fit. The second one was easy to find the color because it was very fast, but the fourth one was harder.”

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