We explored...

The impact that recorded music had whilst children painted or drew. We explored this by:

  • Creating opportunities for children to draw or paint whilst there was music playing.
  • Creating opportunities for children to draw or paint whilst there was no music playing.
  • Asking children if their hands could dance to the music.
  • Inviting children to listen to music and draw what it made them think of.

We found...

• Drawing with pencils appeared to be less connected to the music.
• Painting with brushes appeared to be less expressive –painting with hands appeared to be more expressive.
• Children painted in time with music, using paint and dabbing the pulse of the music as they listened.
• Some children preferred to listen whilst painting, some children were able to articulate this and although it may have appeared that the music did not enhance their expressive art, the painting appeared to enrich their listening experience.
• Children’s expressive art was affected by the music they listened to.
• Children drew pictures which then evolved into stories

The girl in the following clip was asked if her hands could dance with the felt tips whilst listening to the music.

She quickly responds by saying this is a slow one and goes on to draw a ballerina. Following this she listens to a piece of dance music:

You can see in the clip that she immediately responds with pleasure to the music she is hearing. At this point the drawing is not the focus, listening to music is. She was set up in an environment which supported and valued music listening - she was easily able to listen and respond.

Some children showed a clear preference to listening to music whilst drawing or painting and even though sometimes the music did not appear to impact the visual art that was created the important finding was that some children preferred to listen whilst painting or drawing.

Amanda from Hillfields regularly created opportunities for children to freely paint or draw both indoors and outdoors and experimented with playing music in the area and not playing music in the area.

The girl in the following clip made it very clear to Amanda that she preferred to listen to music whilst painting or drawing. She said. “I am not going to draw without music on.”

As you can see she wasn't at this point focused on her painting but was focused on the music she was listening to. This is similar in the following two clips, you will see a girl responding with her paintbrush and stopping to listen too.

In the following clip you will see how visual art, movement and music are intrinsically connected:

Amanda explored a variety of styles of music whilst offering opportunities to create visual art. Both Amanda and Amie found that some children painted or drew for longer periods of time whilst there was music playing compared to music not being played. Some children may like to actively listen if they also have something else to do such as paint.

We found that music affected children’s paintings and drawings:

Child A in the picture above chose to come and draw to music, she began drawing her picture using long marks across the page whilst listening to ‘Lay me down’ by Sam smith. Around half way through the song Amie changed the music to the theme music from the film Jaws, Child A instantly changed her style of drawing. Her pace quickened her marks became more zig zag like using erratic pen movements and she smiled widely showing her teeth and then said “Shark”.

Child A in the picture above revisited the same drawing whilst listening to the Jaws theme music again, she continued to draw on top of what she had previously drawn. Her pen movements changed as the music intensified and at one point when Amie stopped the music playing she stopped drawing and looked at Amie until she played it again. Amie asked Child A if she liked the music, she said “yes”. Amie then asked her if it made her think of anything – she said “teeth”.

We found that...

Inviting children to listen to music and draw can be a starting point for children to create stories.
Lianne at Allens Croft worked with four children aged 3-4. She invited them to listen to a piece of music for around 1 minute and then asked the children: “Can you draw what was in your head? “

We found...

Two boys in particular were very engaged in both listening and drawing. Whist they were listening to the theme tune from the film Jaws they said:

Child B - “that made me think of a pirate ship sailing” 
He then drew this picture below:

Child C – “That’s the shark and that’s all the people trying to get the shark.” This was in reference to the picture he drew below.

When revisiting this picture with Lianne the following week the child talked more about it: “There is a small robot shark and a larger robot shark in the picture”. He then begins to tell us a story: “The big one eats the little one and turns into a giant one and then turns into a boy and then a minion. Someone was angry with the baby one and says 'tidy up that kitchen'.”

The following week Lianne revisited the picture and asked the child if he could remember the music that he listened to. Lianne played a range of extracts of music to him and you will see in the following clip that he says “you keep playing the wrong music”, he then shows how clearly he remembered the music: