Art & Soul: Making Connections with Music and Art

I LOVE MUSIC!  I listen to it constantly, attempt to sing it and have even been known to dabble on the piano from time to time.  So, when my colleague was conjuring up a musical All That Jazz, I was more than happy to incorporate this theme in my curriculum!

Music and the visual arts overlap in many areas: Kandinsky’s visual music, musicians who also paint and draw like John Lennon and Miles Davis, and visual artists who, in turn, make music (did you know Leonardo da Vinci was a vocalist?).  For this project I wanted to focus on an artist who was living and breathing all the inspiration and passion of Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance, so I zeroed in on Romare Bearden.

Students learned about Romare Bearden and looked at examples of his work for inspiration.  I showed them my all time FAVORITE piece, Showtimefrom 1974.  Bearden’s artwork creates a natural dialog for a discussion on emphasis, balance and harmony.  His characters aren’t just standing there, that gal is wailing on the microphone!  Then we listened to various jazz artists, identifying different instruments, feeling the rhythm, even moving around a bit.  The final project was to design and create a multi-media collage of a musician (or two or three) using drawing, paper, and paint.  We even used recycled sheet music for the background!

I hung each and every collage up on opening night.  Parents were thrilled to have a mini art show on the same night as the performance, but most importantly, the students strengthened their learning with one more connection: music and art! After all, isn’t that what’s its all about?

What are some other art projects you’ve done combining music and art?


Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Dean of the Institution and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • What a cool project! I did a cross-curricular project with our music teacher one year. In music, the third graders learned all about composer Gustav Holst and his orchestral suite, titled “The Planets”. In art, we listened to “The Planets” while we made some space-themed art. The kids loved it! 

    • That sounds so neat!  I am guessing music and planets was wildly popular! :)

  • Pstevens

    Just LOVE your musicians! If I haven’t turned on music in the first 10 minutes of class, invariably a student will ask, Where’s the music? Love it!

    •  Thank you!  What type of music do you play while your students are working?  I am always looking for good ideas :)

  • Schneidera

    I constantly play music in my Art Room. Research shows that music that has about 60 beats per minute (like our heartbeat) increases concentration and focus. I also like to play multi-cultural music that corresponds with the culture we may be drawing inspiration from; Putamayo is a label that has a lot of cool CDs with multi-cultural artists. For instance, we listened to music from India when we were creating mhendi (henna tatoo) designs or paisley fabric designs. We listened to music from Hawaii and the Pacific when we were creating Repeating Pattern Tapa cloths. Great way to expose them to something new!

    • I didn’t know that 60 beats per minute was the magic number. I will remember this for both classroom and personal use! Thanks!

    •  Great suggestions!  If you have the technology, another idea is streaming Pandora ( into the classroom.  They have genre channels you can choose (like classical, blues, jazz, etc.)  When I did this lesson, we sometimes played the songs the students were learning from the concert.  They enjoyed singing for me while they worked.