“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.