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Integration of Art, Technology, and Music

Individually, music, art, and STEAM classes in the MPCS lower school bring excitement and smiles to the faces of our students who thrive in these creative, hands-on environments. Add in a collaborative project that moves through all three classrooms, and the energy becomes contagious.

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Walking in to music class as a fourth grader at Mount Paran Christian School, you are greeted by Mrs. Cole and a full class set of guitars waiting to be played. Mrs. Cole teaches a different instrument to each grade level, and the chosen instrument in fourth grade is the guitar. Students first learn the anatomy of the guitar along with the history behind fretted instruments. They then learn how to hold the guitar, along with the correct finger placement to play beginning chords and simple, well-known melodies. 


Visual Art Transforms Into STEAM

This year, lower school art teacher Mrs. Moore transitioned the experience fourth grade students had in their music class into her art classroom. She began with a biblical lesson on the importance of heartfelt worship through music. The lesson then traveled through art history with a study of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. In 1912-1914 Picasso created multiple works of art out of recycled materials and his favorite subject matter at the time was the guitar, creating the perfect connection for the art project. Fourth graders were asked to create their own guitar out of recycled materials such as cardboard, fabric, yarn, wooden sticks, and tissue paper. With emphasis on decision-making, creativity, and problem-solving, the students designed and built their own guitar.  

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While they were busy creating their guitars in art class, they were also preparing for the final step in their guitar journey by spending time in STEAM class learning to use a tool called Makey Makey, which lends itself to introductory lessons in electricity, basic circuitry, and allows connections between the computer and real-world objects. 


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Making Music with Art

When the students finished their art guitars, they brought them to the STEAM classroom and turned them into actual, working musical instruments. Students connected the guitars to their computers using the Makey Makey kit. They then created a program on the computer to play certain notes when the guitar and Makey Makey connections were touched. They coded this program in Scratch, which is a programming tool produced by the MIT Media Lab. As they coded, they drew on previous learning from music class, using their knowledge of music notes to help them create the correct guitar program. As students completed their programs and began testing their songs, their faces lit up with excitement and exclamations of “It works!” or “Come and see mine!” This project was a unique opportunity for experiential learning that extended beyond a single class and provided a model of collaboration. 

What did students love about this year-long, collaborative project? Emmi Kate Arnold said, “I loved that we had the chance to try new things on the same topic, but in different classes.” “I learned how multiple classes can work together” noted Brycen Kessock. “It was fun making my guitar in art and then hearing it play music.” 


Randi Terry serves as the lower and middle school technology teacher and middle school robotics coach at Mount Paran Christian School.



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