This activity broadens children's understanding of musical instruments and gives them a crash course in rhythm. I give each child a large piece of paper and a choice of three paints or pens. I play some music on an instrument or use a CD, and ask them to focus on a particular element, such as bass or drums. When they hear this element, they can make a mark at random on the paper. I play the song again, and this time ask them to change pen colour. This time they must must listen to a different element, for example, strings, and make a different impression on the page. I do this three times. They end up with a beautiful piece of original modern art, a link between art and music.
I have found this works in all primary age groups and is a great transition activity between the end of lunch break and the main afternoon session. It calms children down, and does not require differentiation; every child can feel successful.
I use a variety of music - for example, Bjork, Duran Duran, Mozart, Pavarotti, Charlotte Church and Shania Twain. The more obscure the sound, the more varied the picture will become. I recommend starting off with the basics, such as identifying drums, strings and piano, and then moving on to listening for percussion, flutes and xylophones.
Robin Warren, music co-ordinator, Hargrave Park School, Islington, London