In tandem with the multimedia celebration of Voices at an Exhibition, ARS will work with Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) to select school children from a local elementary school who, through careful and critical listening, will use instrumental music to interpret and create an original piece of visual art.

Through OMA, elementary school students learn to compose and play simple rhythms and melodies as well as to relate to, or interpret musical pieces. It also teaches students to be artists themselves by learning about famous visual artists and then exploring and expanding their own artistic abilities.

“This is important because students who are introduced to the arts at a young age develop a foundation, understanding and appreciation for all forms of artistic expression, and are more likely to become future musicians, artists and patrons of the arts,” said ARS Vice President, Julie Patrick, M.A., who works with OMA and was the mastermind behind the collaboration.

The ARS spring concert series designed by Dr. Jeffry Jahn features the relationship between music, text and visual art. In Voices at an Exhibition, four original works of art were presented to four different composers; they were asked to select, or write, text and compose a choral piece based on their inspiration for the work of art assigned to them.

For the OMA Young Artist’s Gallery, 4th grade students from Lineweaver Elementary School will make the connection between visual art and music from the opposite perspective: they will listen to pieces of instrumental music and create original artwork based on their interpretation of the music.

The students will be ‘art docents’ at the Young Artist’s Gallery exhibit after each Voices at an Exhibition concert, and will be available to articulate the artistic process for their original artwork to audience members.

“Through this ARS collaboration, OMA students will have the combined opportunity to hear a phenomenal choral ensemble perform commissioned works inspired by visual artists, and the experience of sharing their own artwork with those in attendance,” said Patrick.

For the past decade of her 22-year career in education, Patrick has been a mentor, professional development facilitator and consultant for OMA teachers, teaching artists and administrators throughout Arizona. She is also TUSD’s Coordinator of the OMA Exploratory Residency program, which provides modules of integrated arts education from the OMA model to non-OMA schools, and a Fellow for Harvard University’s Project Zero Classroom professional development summer program.

Julie Patrick, ARS Vice President and TUSD Coordinator, OMA Exploratory Residency Program explains how she prepared her young students for the “Voices at an Exhibition” Gallery Exhibit at ARS concerts on April 27 and May 4, 2014.

The lesson started with a comparison of picture and chapter books. In picture books, it’s the illustrator guides the images in our heads or provides images of unfamiliar words for young readers. Once children progress to reading chapter books, it’s the author who creates the ‘movie’ of the book through their word choice.

The same thing can be said when listening to music. Music with words influence our feelings and impressions, while instrumental music allows for more interpretation by the listener. The 4th grade students at Lineweaver Elementary School listened to Schindler’s List by John Williams, and then sketched their interpretation of the music. During an ‘Open Studio’ time, students determined what media to use –  watercolors, watercolor pencils, soft pastels, and chalk pastels – to add color to their images. The result of their work is a fantastic array of visual impressions based on a single musical piece.