The Sounds Around Us

For many months, the Red Room children have been exploring the relationship between music and art. They continued their work by listening to sounds around them in the outdoor environment and exploring what they might look like. We discussed how sometimes it is a bit easier to focus in on and differentiate between sounds if we close our eyes. The children laughed at this initially but then quieted as they began to listen carefully to all of the sounds they could hear. They noticed the noise of vehicles driving on road, children playing on the playground, wind through the trees, birds and insects making different sounds in the garden, and airplanes high in the sky.

Student: Hey! I hear bugs now! I couldn’t hear them before…only trucks.

When it came time to draw what the sounds could look like, the children each approached this differently though some of them showed strong similarities.  While there were a few figures present in their drawings, most of their work illustrated the more abstract concepts of sound. This was a bit surprising, I had wondered if the children would try to make images of those things which created the sounds and not the sounds themselves.

Student: This is me and these things are the sounds of the kids over there and over there. It goes all around. I put music notes but it’s not really music, is it? Are there special letters for sounds?

Student: The dots and circles are the kid sounds. That color and the orange are different sounds like birds and those trucks.

Student: If you can’t close your eyes, you can do this.

Student: I didn’t know this could make your ears work better. Hey, it sounds louder. It really works! I hear something loud.

(Actually, during this time a child on the playground shouted something from far away and then repeated it when he got closer to where we were set up.)

One of the interesting similarities in the children’s work was how they depicted the sounds they heard surrounding them. All of the children discussed and talked about themselves as being in the center of their work. Whether they represented themselves as an actual drawn figure or a repeated circle or dark mark, they made the colors and markings around them as the different sounds surrounding them while we were in the garden.

Student: That’s me! I made two noses. But, those aren’t my noses but those hole parts…I forgot what they were called. I made all the sounds go in a big circle ‘cause I can hear in a big circle.

One student drew a musical note with eyebrow, eyes, and mouth. She explained why she gave it a face, “I made that ‘cause some things make sounds and they are alive. Like kids and birds, and stuff.”

Student: If I heard some sounds that I didn’t like, they would be a color I don’t like. I like all the colors though, so maybe I haven’t met all them yet.

Student: I hear circle sounds and zig-zags and the sound of a garbage truck!

Another interesting concept brought up by the children were the differences between sound and music, and natural/alive and “manmade”/ unnatural noises.

Student: That circle is me. I’m spinning around in a pink dress. I’m dancing to the music all around. But, you know what? I don’t hear songs. I hear noises. I like songs better.

Reflection by Kelly Blondin, Art Specialist

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