What Music Does For Art

“Where Words Fail, Music Speaks” – Hans Christian Anderson-

Every year I am surprised when I bring to school my old record player, which looks much like a suitcase.  I simply but it down on the floor in front of the children and look at it.  Then, I wait for the wonder of what happens next.  As children predict what they think it might be, I open the lid and start to carefully touch the turntable and the arm… and then turn it on.

Just watching all the parts move and listening to the sound of the needle is thrilling.  I then pull out a record album, on this day Vivaldi’s Four Seasons- another ten minutes of focus and excitement.  “It’s a big CD!” said many of the children.  “Let’s listen to the music it makes,” said I.  And we did.  You could have heard a pin drop.  “Violins!”  said Allie.  Ah, yes.  We listened to a little of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  It truly filled us all.  Deeply.

We were ready to paint.  We’re making masterpieces, art that uses real artists paints on palettes.  This is important work.  I said to the children:

“Do you know what happens when you hear wonderful music?  It goes into your ears, then into your heart, and out your fingers.  It helps you to paint a real masterpiece.”

Lexi was deep into her work.  Vivaldi was playing on the record player.  While I was busy with another child, Lexi started hollering, “Jennie!  Jennie!  The music stopped.  I’m not finished with my masterpiece!”  I quickly started the record again, and looked at her painting.  Oh, my!  Yes, music makes a difference.

I have introduced children to impressionism and Monet with different brush strokes, to van Gogh’s Sunflowers (they already adore Starry Night which hangs in the classroom), and to Franz Marc and his Large Blue Horses.  Parker liked the art of Kandinsky, and he wanted to look at a picture of that art while he painted.

Can there be anything more wonderful than watching a child fall in love with classical music and painting with focus and heart?

What if the music is not classical, and what if the art is not painting?  Here is what happened:  Last week Colin was on the playground and suddenly started singing, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”  What!  Thinking he must be singing something else, I asked him to sing again.  He did, every word and with perfect pitch.  I sang along with him, of course.  Then, I asked him if he knew “Oklahoma”.  No, he didn’t.  Well, since I have a record album of every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, I promised him I’d bring the record in to school the next day.  I did.  He was so excited!

We sang and sang.  We sang loud.  We danced in the room.  I let the record play, and I went to be with other children.  Colin wanted to draw.  Twenty minutes later, with the music filling the room, I saw that he was still working at his drawing.  This was all freehand, and double-lined.  Wow.

Can there be any doubt that music makes a big difference?


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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79 Responses to What Music Does For Art

  1. reocochran says:

    Jennie, I like your choices in music to motivate and bring Joy to the children. I love the silly laughing child so much! Even though classics are the best forms, your choice of including Oklahoma was special to me! While my kids were young, they loved Three Dog Night’s silly song, Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.” When I taught preschool I used this as well as a couple semi- rock tunes and the parents smiled when I told them they were up dancing to them! 🙂 You rock, Jennie!

    • Jennie says:

      I love your stories, Robin. You always have something wonderful to tell me. We needed to move before we painted, so I played the Supremes album, “Goin’ to a Go-Go.” It was a blast. I will have to include that in another music / art post as we continue on our masterpieces. I really should play “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog.” It is so good! Many thanks!

      • reocochran says:

        I love this “Goin’ to a Go-Go” idea! I wonder how they would like “These Boots are Made for Walking?” That is like a Go-Go song. . . We are like my best friend in Delaware, Ohio Jenny (Morris) and I are, where we like brainstorming! It is always stimulating and you help my grandies time together, by getting my creative juices flowing.
        Sadly, a musical and artistic soul, friend of my grown kids, committed suicide. Calling hours, meal together later in memorial of Tim (“Timmy.”)
        So, I have three elementary kids here, two are painting and one is playing with dominoes, making long winding chains on the coffee table.
        Have a wonderful rest of your weekend. I’ll be back after we pick up Skyler (age 12) who is home alone, heading to “Boss Baby,” at our local movie theatre. Feeding ducks, in our plans.

      • Jennie says:

        Oh no, Robin. That is so sad. Why are many artistic people glass-half-empty? Really sad. I’m so sorry. Well, it just makes me want to listen to the Supremes. Again. Yes, we are like blogging BFF’s. I’ll bet your grandies would love hearing a record player. Oh! I have the little center piece for 45s. I also have Shout by the Isley Brothers on a 45. Oooo!!! Have fun today with the kids. Feeding ducks sounds delightful!

      • reocochran says:

        I have a 45 rpm record player. I babysat in the 80’s to have my “orthophonic high fidelity RCA Victor” wooden boxed record player fixed. I have Apple records with Beatles, Teddy Bear Picnic, Roger Miller’s Trailer for sale or rent (“King of the Road” was my Dad’s favorite song as well as Crackling Rosie.) I have Simon and Garfunkel and Elvis. Johnny Cash, A Boy Named Sue and What is Truth?. . . I did a post a long time ago about this. We missed some of our best posts, but I am happy you have music playing and art as well as chapter reading. You’re the best teacher I know who is still “in the field.” 🙂 hugs

      • Jennie says:

        You are the best, Robin! Love your music, too. 🎶

  2. Oh, my word!!! Colin’s art is amazing for a child his age. Are the parents standing in line each year to have you teach their children? I’m going to put on some classical music right now and see if it helps me get my sewing project done easier. I notice some of the children leaning into the player for closer inspection and others sitting quietly observing. It looks like a little green beret on Lexi’s head? 😉 I would love to be a fly on your wall most days.

    • Jennie says:

      Oh, how I wish I could magically transport you to my classroom, Marlene. We would have so much fun. Yes, I offered a beret to children. I thought it might make them feel like real artist. Many wanted to wear one. I think the record player photo is a combination of eager curiosity and feeling stunned at what is happening. Pretty cool. Yes, play music that fills your heart when you sew!!

  3. Your children are so fortunate to have you for their teacher, who understands the importance of both music and art, and to attend a school which allows the opportunity for the children to pause and really listen to the music. Thank you for sharing another inspirational post!

  4. beetleypete says:

    What a great way to combine music and art. Using the old record-player is the masterstroke though. You are transporting them back in time as they paint, and teaching them about life before i-phones, and downloads. You should write the definitive instruction book, in my opinion. It could be used the world over to improve education.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Pete. Hands-on brings learning

    • Jennie says:

      Oops…meant to say that it brings learning to life for children. I love that old record player. Today we will try to paint the Mona Lisa. My husband asked me which record I will use. “I don’t know. The children will decide” I told him. Your kind words are not only appreciated, but what I am trying to do- write a book about just that. Plenty of query letters sent out, but no biters yet. I am fully positive that it will happen. My best to you, Pete. Think of Mona Lisa today.

  5. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, This is wonderful!!!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Charles. I’m so glad you liked it! Leaving for school now. Today the Mona Lisa! I wonder what music the children will want to hear in order to feel inspired. We’ll see.

  6. magarisa says:

    This is absolutely delightful​, Jennie!

  7. jjspina says:

    How wonderful! Children must love your classes! We should have teachers like you to inspire children, our future! Blessings! Keep on inspiring them! 🤗

  8. Yessss!
    Here’s a link to a blog post I think you might appreciate along those same lines:

    We are so much on the same wave length, lady!

  9. ren says:

    Jennie, Bless you! During these times when ‘they’ want to kabash the Arts from school and here you are, so talentedly, introducing and bringing forth the true nature within each child.

    In the early 1990’s, should my toddler find himself getting upset, all I had to do, was play music and he would go belly-first in the rocker, rocking and be instantly calmed.
    All thru his life, he turned to music as a means of relaxation.
    Today, mid 20’s, he is a self taught musician and plays guitar in a local band with friends.

    Thank you for what you do, Jennie. You are awesome!

  10. Wonderful Jennie.. how fabulous that the children are stretching their creativity in so many directions. Music has always played a massive part of my life and I do a great deal of my writing in my head when listening to it. I have put in the Blogger this evening.. thank you Sally

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  12. What a wonderful class. The children must have been so excited to see your suitcase turn into a giant music box. And the art–definitely musically inspired. Everything about this lesson is so creative, makes me wish I could shrink down and be in your class, too!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marcia. It was wonderful to watch what happened when children painted to music. We’re still going strong! I may have to do another post. Mona Lisa and Starry Night this week. Wow! Please become a four-year-old and join my class. 🙂

  13. ren says:

    Reblogged this on Branching Out and commented:
    I felt this was a post that needed to be read and spread.
    Take a moment to pop in on the author of this blog. She has so many wonderful stories of her students, to share.
    Thank you again, Jennie, for this wonderful post,

  14. Aww – this is such a beautiful post, Jennie! It makes me smile all over 😄 I love how you combined these two art forms and coaxed the children into making masterpieces of their own 😄 Vivaldi is such an inspiration for the creative mind and I love that you think it flows into ours ears and hearts to come back out of our hands. These kids are so lucky to have such a creative and passionate teacher!

  15. Darlene says:

    Amazing post!! I recall my grade three teacher playing the Grand Canyon Suite on her record player for us. We were farm kids who had not been exposed to classical music. We all loved it and asked for more.

  16. Di says:

    Hello Jennie🌟
    I’m so sorry! I added a comment early in the week but it’s disappeared or I didn’t press ‘post’. I thought I hadn’t heard back which I know you always reply so that’s how I found my oopsie!
    I wish I could have kept the comment because I wrote it in tears… your story was so beautiful about how you encourage the creativity in the children. They are so fortunate to have you teach them they are all creators.
    I’ll catch up with your other wonderful posts soon.
    Have a great week Jennie 🌸🌸

    • Jennie says:

      Hello, Di. I’m so sorry that your comment was lost. I went to my dashboard to make sure it wasn’t in spam. Nope. Thank you for telling me the story. It means a lot! And, thank you for your kind words. More to come on this post. Oh, we only just began.

      • Di says:

        You’re very welcome Jennie.
        Thanks to you being beautifully kind with replies, it allowed me to think something was amiss.
        I’ll look forward to reading more on this topic. It’s very dear to my heart… to be encouraged and feel safe by expressing yourself. You are beginning an amazing journey with your young ones in the class 🌟💐

      • Jennie says:

        Best to you, Di.

      • Di says:

        Thank you Jennie….and to you too ✨✨

  17. You always leave me feeling so uplifted! The pictures show the joy they are feeling but the joy in YOUR words is what really touches my heart. ❤

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Nikki! Happiness and joy are contagious, especially when REAL. I am so glad you enjoyed the read, and that it made you feel good. 😀

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  19. It’s a big CD! Haha!! Ah, your students are so cute. What a gift they are getting from you — a true treasure to learn about artists and music! Rock on, Jennie 🙂

  20. Oh Jennie, I really love this!! This is very funny timing to read, as I just did a blog post on treating ourselves well & how creativity is such an important aspect of self-love for me – I talk about the value of creativity. 🙂

    If I had you as a teacher, I bet I’d be so much more open to my creative expression as an adult. Thank you, thank you.

  21. Nina says:

    Wonderful post Jennie! Yes, classical music and even non-classical but soulful inspiring music does make a difference! I could just imagine the excitement of the kids when they saw your classic music player worked it’s magic.
    It’s really nice that you’re getting them acquainted with classical music as early as now…I wish you were my teacher when I was on my pre-school, hehe! Thank you for sharing with us the joy you experience with the children! All their art works are amazing by the way! 😊❤👍

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Nina. You always spread such happiness. Yes, classical music is soulful and inspiring. Children just don’t get to hear it, so the experience of listening, along with the record player, is tremendous. Exciting is an understatement. So happy to share this event. Today the children named their masterpieces. It was incredible. I’ll write about this soon. 😀

      • Nina says:

        I look forward to reading it! I wish more prep teachers do the same… my 5 year old daughter is also very fond of art. So I always buy her water colors, pens, colored pencils and notebooks! 😊

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  23. rhythmoftime says:

    Cool! Sharing this-

  24. kenneth says:

    . !

  25. guiltyshades says:

    Music can be used as a therapy,calm your mind,helps concentrating…well you know what…just listen and find out rest for yourself…..you will be surprised, what its capable of.

  26. guiltyshades says:

    And it does makes a difference… If it wasnt for music…i wouldbt have been alive

  27. Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    Sure, today’s re-blog is about kids and art; but, it still “applies” to adults and writing 🙂

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