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ABC Classics Kids: Sounds like Australia

This exercise is based on but ABC Classic Kids: Sounds like Australia but could apply to musical works or artistic contexts.

The sound of drawing

In ABC Classics: Sounds like Australia audiences have an opportunity to explore and experience the importance of listening. Paying attention to sounds and music provides enormous potential for creative response and helps to develop patience, attention, and a deep sense of presence. 

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Hans Christian Anderson

Exercise: drawing sounds

Materials: graphite pencils and paper

Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing until everything becomes very still and quiet.  Listen to your breath as it moves effortlessly in, and out, over and over and over again. Keep listening until your attention is take by the other sounds you can hear. Notice as many different noises as you can. Listen to the sounds in the classroom, inside your mind, in your body, above the roof and under the ground. Stretch your ears as far as you can to hear the furthest, quietest, tiniest far away sounds. Listen to your own heartbeat. See if you can hear your teacher breathing.

Do you think it is possible to draw sounds?

Draw as many different kinds of lines as you can on a page. Notice how each of these lines could represent a certain kind of sound. Close your eyes and listen deeply to every little sound near and far. Draw all the sounds you can hear. Keep your eyes closed while your are drawing.

Dotty, curly, curvy, jagged, straight, stretched, stumbling, squiggly, soft, rough, pressed, light, long, limp, wavy or wild.

*Don’t draw the things you think are making the sounds. Draw the way the sounds feel. For example if you can hear a car don’t draw the car. Draw a line that looks like it is vrooooming across the page. If you can hear a bird singing don’t draw a bird. Draw a line that looks like it is tweeting and looping and swooping and soaring across your paper sky. 

Exercise: dancing pencils

Materials: coloured pencils

  • Listen to a piece of music with your eyes closed.  
  • Let your hands and arms move to the rhythm and melodies. Bend your knees and as you swing your arms. Play with movements going up and down as well as side to side. If you like big movements try small ones. If you like loose movements try tight movements. Always try to change what you are doing. Make sure the movement goes all the way to your fingertips to your toes. And always with your eyes closed.
  • Choose a pencil and let it dance in the air to the sounds.
  • Bring your pencil down to your page and let it slide, scratch, slip, tap and curl lines across the paper in response to the sounds.
  • Don’t draw hearts or faces or words or puppy dogs.
  • It is important that you don’t try and draw something you can recognise.
  • Allow the music to move your hand so it feels like the pencil is actually dancing, flipping, dotting and spinning across the page like a dancer.

What can you do with these drawings now? Do you want to colour them in? Change the music and keep drawing? Pass them on to a friend and continue? How can you make these drawings change into something else?

Have a look at the other lessons for more ideas about how to extend or develop this exercise.