Sound patterns

21st February 2003 at 00:00
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

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today