Visual Arts: Draw What You Hear

Grade level: K-5
Duration: 1 class period
Media Type: markers, paint, colored pencils, crayons
Subject Integration: Music
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)
Objectives: Students will create their own visual artwork while listening to various genres of music.

(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done


  • Rhythm
  • Color
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture

Materials and Procedure:

Markers, paint, colored pencils, paper, music CD’s, preferably instrumental, access to computer to show PlayList video clips

Day 1:
Discuss idea of drawing and painting to music. Show PlayList video of Lee Zimmerman painting to live music (1:33).

Discuss video clip. “Why do you think Lee likes to paint to live music?” (See Discussion Questions below). Play music game called “Pass It” for students to get a feel for the process. The game goes as follows: Each student receives a blank piece of paper and access to markers, colored pencils, crayons, and/or paint. Each student writes their name on the back of the paper and then turns the paper over to the blank side to start. The teacher plays a short clip of music and tells the students to start drawing. Encourage students to draw what they feel or draw what the music reminds them of. Maybe the music reminds them of raindrops, being in a boat on the water, riding a bike, spending time with a loved one, etc. To start the game, the following PlayList video clip could be used:

Yofi/ Ragu Medley (6:29)

When the music starts, students draw whatever comes to mind. After several seconds, the teacher pauses the music and says, “Pass It!” Students pass their paper to the person to the right of them, as does all other students, until all students receive the paper from their immediate left. The music resumes and students add to what has been drawn on the paper in front of them. This game continues until all students receive their original work with their name on the back. Discuss the process. “What just happened?” “Did you enjoy drawing/painting to music? Why or why not?” Pass out new blank pieces of paper. This time, play music for extended period of time, but allow students to create their own artwork, without passing to another student. Allow students to use various drawing/painting materials, and play different types of music for students to experience different genres. Leave time at end of class to discuss lesson. “How did you feel about this lesson?” “Were there parts of this lesson that were easy? Difficult? Enjoyable?” “What did you learn by completing this lesson?” “What would you do differently? What would you keep the same?”

Discussion Questions:
“How does music make you feel?” “Why do you think Lee Zimmerman enjoys painting to music?” “What is your favorite type of music to paint/draw to? Why?” “Have you even painted/drawn to music before?” “Were you able to express how the music made you feel through your drawing/painting? Why or why not?”


National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment