Colourful Music

I have been a bit absent this week and have yet to post anything about my class, The Colour of Music. Here is a little activity I did  that is very simple but pleasing, in so many ways.

I filled some jars with water and arranged them from high to low. (If you had the right space and plenty of time it would also be interesting to let the kids experience how more or less water changes the sound but this has the potential to be messy. ) To add colour to the water I used watercolour, for reasons that will become clear. Then I played the jars with a wooden spoon. After some initial exploration I told the kids I was going to “write a song”. I used a long, narrow piece of watercolour paper on which I drew a line with permanent marker from one side to the other. Then I made “notes” – circles – all along the line. I used a palette of watercolour paints, the exact same colours as the water,  to fill in the circles. The song could then be played by starting at one side and playing the colours or notes in order. And then it was their turn!

Even my youngest friends (3) were able to do this.

And of course we named the songs:”The Happy”, “A Rainbow Ignition” and “Tweet” being just a few. The kids loved this and to my surprise showed a remarkable ability to understand the idea.  They had a great time playing their songs on the jars. I almost didn’t do this activity because I just wasn’t sure but I’m so glad I gave it a go!


Filed under art classes/workshops, art with children

21 responses to “Colourful Music

  1. dale

    hi catherine – I love it – what a wonderful way to integrate art, music and play. I want to have an exhibition of this – could you imagine what more complex music might look like even though the simpler sounds are spectacular. the kids must have been totally engaged in this – let’s talk more and thank you

  2. Kate

    What a neat idea, Catherine!

  3. amhocking

    Brilliant in its ease and level of fun. How cool.

  4. sounds and looks so cute 🙂 I really wanna do it with my students

  5. What a great activity. It is hard at this age to find things that integrate and are still age appropriate. I am putting this one in my lesson plans. Thanks!

  6. Wow! So, just taping the jar with a wooden spoon makes a nice sound? I’ll be saving this idea for our homeschool playgroup.

  7. flo

    It’s so great… Creation, colors, imagination and at the end… So wonderful ! Thanks for the idea !

  8. daniedub

    I tired this today with my afterschool classes. Fantastic idea…The children listened so well. Thanks for the idea!

  9. This is so ingenious!! I am sending the link to my friend, a Montessori teacher – I think she’d really enjoy sharing this project with her class.

  10. Liberty

    What a fantastic idea, so creative and beautiful too! I cannot wait to try this one out with my daughter, I know she’ll love it!

  11. Such a great idea! With some fiddling you could have a perfect scale to create with, and it’s a terrific activity for children learning to read music.

  12. This is BRILLIANT! I am definitely going to try this with my kids. I found you through the Crafty Crow, and I’m excited to read all of your ideas. Where are you located? I want my kids to take your class!

    • Thanks to everybody for the kind comments! I live in Nova Scotia and most of these classes were taught at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. But we are splitting our time between Halifax and Port Royal, in the Annapolis Valley, and I have hopes of doing something there someday. (not that this would help you much Maiz!)

  13. thank you for the wonderful idea – we did this a few days ago:

    we’re hoping to do it with our homeschool music class – any tips on how to best accomplish this with 12 kids 5-8? did your kids all have their own sets of jars?

    • Thanks so much for sharing! I loved reading about your experience. It was also great to see how when you are doing it at home with a small number of children, you can extend the experience by allowing them to setup the jars themselves. The largest class I had was 8 (but they were 3-5). In that situation I did the filling of jars as a sort of circle activity, though I worked hard to involve them by having them theorize what would happen and how to play the jars. Then the children worked on creating their songs and took turns playing them for the “audience”. Maybe you could have two or three sets of jars? Perhaps you could have them work in groups of four to create collaborative pieces? Anyway, it will probably be loud and you’ll probably feel like it is bit disorganized, but I’m sure they’ll have fun! Good Luck!

  14. Nice idea! Making music has a positive impact on the development of your brain. Filling jars is very cheap as well.

  15. DawnS

    This would be perfect after reading the book “One”. It’s a bully book and it is about colors. Red is bullying the other colors. Cute idea and great musical activity to ad to this!

  16. Reblogged this on irun4funmom and commented:
    Colorful Music ideas via

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