This would be a good project for the Summer Term and would be particularly appropriate as part of a cross-curricular study.
Well in advance, ask the children to collect two groups of sea pictures, ‘calm’ and ‘stormy’. In late spring to early summer, many suitable ‘calm’ illustrations will be found in magazines and holiday brochures. Stormy scenes will be less abundant and are more likely to be found as book illustrations or art prints. Suitable poems and descriptions would also be helpful. This resource describes work on two scenes most likely to be familiar to children of this age, depicting the sea as it is viewed from the shore. If you have strong stimulus for sound pictures of other scenes, it can be adapted, accordingly.
A recording device
Sound sources: voices and any available instruments
Lessons 1 and 3 should be as exploratory as possible. Ideally, every child would have the opportunity to try ‘painting’ each feature but this is, usually, only possible where children have access to instruments apart from time-tabled music lessons.
Lesson 1 - Calm Day on the Seashore
Look at appropriate images and discuss any visits pupils have made to the sea on such a day. How did their surroundings affect their mood? What did they hear, see, touch, smell? Draw attention to the gentle ebb and flow of the waves and any features in the picture/s such as rock pools, crabs, shells, children paddling, sunlight reflected on the water, boats on the fore-shore, etc..
Tell the children they are going to paint a ‘picture in sound’. An artist tries, not only to reproduce the objects in a scene but, also, to capture a mood. Likewise, they can create an atmosphere in their painting. The background of the painting will be the sea quietly lapping on the shore. Experiment with ways of using voices and pitched instruments to create this background.
Take each feature of the scene, in turn, and ask the children to suggest an instrument and method of playing suitable for this part of the picture. Try out the suggestions and select an instrument, or group of instruments, to represent each feature in an improvised ‘sound picture’ of the scene. Those not using voices and/or instruments, for other purposes, provide the vocal ‘background’.
Record the improvisation.
Lesson 2 - Appraising
Listen to the recording made last week. Which instruments and ways of playing were most successful?
Take each feature, in turn, and try out any suggestions. Discuss these modifications
Make a new recording, incorporating any improvements.
Have another group(s) improvise and compare the versions.
Lesson 3 - Stormy Weather
Has anyone been by the sea in stormy weather? Has anyone seen a stormy scene in a film or on T.V.? Look at pictures of stormy seas - what would it be like to be there?
In order to ‘paint’ this new scene, how do we need to change our background? What are the features of the storm scene? Develop these ideas, following the pattern established in Lesson 1.
Encourage the children to explore a wide range of classroom instruments - they made need help to get beyond a first "Storms make a lot of noise" response! If some play other instruments, encourage them to find ways of incorporating them.
As in Lesson 1, create a class ‘painting’ of the scene and record it.
Lesson 4 - Appraising
Review and edit the storm scene, following the pattern established in Lesson 2.
© Copyright Audrey Podmore, 2003
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