dance- Colour of Music performance

What Colour Is This Music?

“The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.”

Elliott Eisner

I love this quote by Eisner. He hit it right on the nail. What is so fantastic about art is not that this or that perspective is right, but it can be this and that, and so much more.

By integrating multiple perspectives into our lives, we gain a window into observing how others may see things differently. Not only is it OK, it’s fantastic. We get to experience how interesting it can be to get inside the mindset of another.

For example, listen to this music. Close your eyes. It will help you feel it more deeply.

What Colour Do You Feel This Music Is?

Dance - Open armsThis selection comes from my ‘I Can Dance Colours’ book. When I play a variety of music to my students, I ask them what colour of music does a certain piece sounds like.

They are so individually sure that it is a specific colour, like yellow, or purple or grey or whatever. One child may say that the music is definitely red, while another child may think it sounds nothing like red would sound at all, if red was music.

Instead of debating about why the music is ‘red’ or ‘blue’ or anything else, I turn this discussion into a curiousity and learning about the various ways other people see things.

One child may say, “That doesn’t sound red” in response to another child who thought the music did sound red. I usually respond by saying something like, ”Isn’t it amazing how people see things differently? Isn’t this wonderful? I am also very curious to know what red sounds like to you.”

Ahhhh…ART! I get so excited when I do these kinds of activities with children. They begin to get curious about how others see and experience the world. It opens up rich discussions. It also validates that it’s OK if the way one sees or interprets something is completely different from anyone else.

It’s in the Eye of the Beholder

PaintingSo, after all these wonderful discussions, a child still might say, “But Hannah, what colour of music is it really?”

I always answer that there is no REALLY! What I picked for the colour does not make it that colour. It is only how I saw it. I have to be careful when I tell my students what I picked, as they may feel that my selection is somehow more correct. I always tell them that the music composer, the wonderful Rafael Fuentes, didn’t even pick the same colour as I did!

I’ve incorporated this approach in two workshops I gave at ‘Reading for the Love of it’ 2016 conference in Toronto. We explored the role of artistic practices in supporting:

  • children celebrating multiple perspectives
  • how art exploration can help children accept differences
  • how children can develop their own voice, and
  • how to create more inclusive classrooms

Listen to more music by Rafael Fuentes by visiting Dramasound. He has a fabulous collection of music that is great for creating moods for writing stories, dancing, painting, drama and all sorts of creative experiences.

Feel free to leave a comment about what colour you felt the music was – I’d be curious and it would be great to share our different perspectives with one another!

P.S. I thought I’d share with you what colour I felt the above selection of music represents. To me it is yellow, but please remember, there is no right and wrong in art. Think about how wonderful it is that we each may see and feel the music differently and how exciting that is.


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