Art, Music and Technology

We’re learning about France in the classroom and also studying the art of the old masters, like Monet, Picasso and van Gogh.  Describing styles of art to young children with pictures and techniques is always exciting; using real watercolor paints from tubes squeezed onto a palette, painting at an easel, demonstrating brush strokes, and finding geometric shapes in abstract art.  As they begin to actually use real tools and techniques, they feel proud. We encourage children to come back to their piece of art, over and over again.  After all, a masterpiece is not created in a day.  Music is also art, and when the two come together, magic and creativity seem to explode.  That’s exactly what happened this week.

We used the book Can You Hear It? from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which matches a famous work of art with a classical piece of music.  Fabulous book!  The first pages, before the art and music, show different instruments.  The children were so interested that we had to slow down and really go through each instrument.  Of course!  How simple, and how perfect to begin the process of listening to music.  I was so eager to get to the ‘real part’, the pictures of art and the accompanying music, that I nearly overlooked the most important and fundamental part; the musical instruments.  if you don’t know the instruments and the sounds they produce, how can you listen to music, especially when it can identify with art?  For example, the violins in “Flight of the Bumblebee” matched with the art piece Chrysanthemums can’t be fully understood or appreciated if a child has not heard or seen a violin.

The cello captivated the children.  It looked big and interesting in the book.  Technology to the rescue.  My co-teacher had her iPad at school, and she found a cello solo for the children to watch and listen.  It was “Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G”, played by Mischa Maisky.  The sounds that flowed from his cello had thirteen preschool children listening to and loving every single note.  Everyone was breathless, including teachers.  The only words that were spoken were, “I love this music”, “Olivia isn’t here, she would love this”, and “That was awesome.”  The only movements were children trying to copy playing the cello.  The next day we continued with the book, and again used the iPad, this time with a classical guitar solo.  We played “Cannon in D” by Johann Pachelbel.  As you can imagine, children were equally captivated.  The only words spoken were by one child, “This sounds like bedtime music”.

We then combined listening to music and creating our own art.  So far, the results are astounding.  Really!  When young children are given the tools and encouragement, they have so much to give.  In this case, the tools were books, music and technology.  The results are the artwork that is shaping up to be well beyond the developmental skills of preschool children.  That’s just wonderful.



About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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9 Responses to Art, Music and Technology

  1. Pingback: If music be the food of health, play ON! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Wonderful as well, Jennie – also linked to my recent piece on the music studies. HOWEVER, I couldn’t get the link you left in the comment on Sally’s blog to find your site, so you might want to double check the link you sent to her as well. (I searched your site after clicking the link to the other one and found this one easily, however).

    I love the idea of using technology for instrument recognition and ear-training for young children. VERY creative! And I’ll bet those kids grow up to be classical music lovers too. What a gift.

    I was expected to be able to recognize the major themes in a smattering of classical pieces for a test in one class in my middle-school years (one of my 2 male teachers, so it was either 4th or 6th grade – long before the internet – lol). I already knew some of the music, but figured out that making up words to the themes I didn’t already recognize did it for me.

    I don’t know how the other students did it, but “This is the Firebird, THIS is the Firebird” always pops in any time I hear a particular section of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite – to this day (and I can hum it still).
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Madelyn. So glad you enjoyed this, even though it was quite different. Music takes many avenues…that’s a wonderful thing. I will double check the link- thank you. I absolutely love your story of Stravinsky and the Firebird Suite! Like you, the things I hum all the time from childhood…. sometimes it makes me stop and sing it to a child. Now, that’s a good thing. 🙂

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