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Lesson Plans

Rhythm in Visual Arts, Music, and Movement

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Connie Stewart (cstewart)
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 12:35:11 -0600

I have developed with Robin Stein, Music Education and Cynthia Carlisle,
Physical Education , a series of integrated lessons combining visual arts,
music and movement for the elementary school. One of our themes has been
the definitions and uses of Rhythm in the arts. The focus of the lesson is
The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence. Images used are from the exhibition
catalogue, The Migration Series, edited by Elizabeth Hutton Turner and
published by Rappahannock Press, Washinton D.C. (1993).
Historical and social concepts discussed with children include the
differences between a "trip", a "journey" and a "migration", social
conditions in the U.S. in the 1920's and contemporary factors that
encourage peple to make a trip, journey or migration. (Many families have
moved to our area looking for better living situations for their children.
This lesson attempts to honor those choices.)
Rhythm in the visual arts is defined as repeating visual elements to
organize the art form in space, rhythm in music organizes the art form
through time, and rhythm in movement organizes the art form through time
and space. For example, one of Lawrence's images features a profine of a
manner driving a hammer in an enclosed space. The effectiveness of the
simple profile in dark values versus a detailed representation is
discussed. Children are asked what sounds are implied. Simple musical
notation is introduced (a whole note or long sound followed by a rest) and
the motion is practiced emphasizing a percussive movement through space.
Other activities involve Lawrences's use of triangles. Children discover
the visual rhythm created by triangular shapes and the use of traingles
creating other larger triangles. Children make their bodies into a
triangle, create larger triangles by joining with others and move in a
triangular connection to a played rhythm. Next each group is assigned a
different rhythm, one student plays it and the group must move in
triangular formation when they hear their own group's rhythm played. This
activity is related to the Lawrence images showing several triangular
shaped groups of people moving together.
Continuation of the lesson involves the historical connections between
Lawrences Migration Series, the history of Harlem and the history of jazz.
Lawrence's images are viewed while reading the captions he wrote for them
and by looking at the images while listening to jazz.

Connie Stewart
Instructor, Art Education
University of Northern Colorado