Drawing with your Voice

“Take out your artist’s finger!” said the music teacher as she picked up a large piece of paper with unusual markings on it.

“Here is our first picture today – let’s see what this drawing is going to sound like…”

[The teacher holds up a piece of paper with 5 dots drawn randomly as the children use their pointer finger to follow along with the dots.]

[The lower the dots are on the page, the lower their voices go. The last beep is a high pitched squeal. Some children are still finishing drawing their dots in the air with their fingers.]

“What great artists I have today! That sounded like some amazing polka dots!”

This is a typical dialogue that I have with my 2-year-old classes. We usually continue on with different shapes like wavy lines, zigzags, and squiggly lines. How can wavy lines, zigzags, and squiggly lines be musically beneficial?

  1. The rise and fall of a wavy line allows the children to explore their entire vocal range.
  2. Long lines convey a continuous sound while polka dots evoke short, articulated sounds. Associating certain sounds with the images they see are actually introducing them to basic notation reading.
  3. Being completely free to make up silly sound effects helps them to be creative! For example, the wavy lines can sound like a siren one day or a buzzing bee the next day.
  4. No words are necessary! This form of “reading” is inviting to the young ones who aren’t able to speak or form sentences yet.
  5. When your child is learning to use a marker/crayon/pencil, you can both create your own artwork together and assign different sounds to the pictures.

Now take away the classroom environment. You are reading the paper in the family room and your little one toggles over and reaches to touch your arm. His eyes say it all.

“Daddy, I want to play!”

You smile and turn to the business section of the paper where there is a colorful graph of the stock market’s performance. You fold your arms around your son as he snuggles in your lap. You take his finger and encompass it in your hand. You guide his finger along the graph’s bumpy, sharp lines.

A silly moment shared between parent and child; a musical moment shared between two people; a bonding moment to look back when he is older and reading the newspaper along with you on the couch…

Cheers to being silly and making an everyday moment into a musical one!

Published on: February 27, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Amy Au

Amy Au is an accomplished pianist, violinist, early childhood educator, the author of The Five Minibees, and a mother.

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