In any arts integrated classroom, implementing arts integration strategies, aligning content standards organically with standards in the fine arts, and crafting quality arts integrated lessons is key. However, there is room to allow for open-ended, creative expression of content through the arts. With that in mind, we’d like to offer some parameters for creating classroom arts centers for exploration and investigation in and through each of the arts areas.
Understandably, much of what is feasible for any given classroom arts centers is dependent on many factors: space, budget, access to supplies and materials, etc., but we offer this today in the hopes that it will spark some investigation into how you might create a space for student-driven exploration in the arts.
Through the next several installments of this series, we will highlight each arts area to provide some ideas as to how you might set up each center in your classroom, as well as some ideas for how you might use these centers to provide your students with opportunities for open-ended exploration. We start this series with a focus on music.
Your classroom arts centers might have one of many different intentions, which will shift the focus of how you set up your center. Your center might focus in on listening activities. It might focus in on an exploration of instruments and tools of music. It may also focus on composition using software and sound tools such as GarageBand and Audacity.
Depending on the intention of your music center, you may or may not need a lot of space. A classroom music center that is dedicated to listening will really only require some personal listening devices, such as iPods, headphones, and some reference materials (listening logs, instruments of the orchestra flashcards, elements of music poster, etc.).
You may, however, depending on your resources and the intention of your center, want to have some instruments, such as a drum, a pitched instrument like a glockenspiel or xylophone, a keyboard, or mouthpieces from wind instruments. Finally, you may want to have some music composition software, such as GarageBand, which would allow students to create their own works of music on a laptop or iPad. Because a classroom arts center can be resource-intensive and costly to set up, depending on your intention, ask for donations of old instruments, iPods, etc., or write a grant for the materials you need.
The Activities For Classroom Arts Centers
Depending on the lesson or concept being explored, students can listen to music within the theme. For example, if students are learning about space, use Gustav Holst’s The Planets as a writing prompt). Students can compose pieces to convey elements of drama, to tell a story, to provide a soundtrack for a work, etc. If you have instruments in your center, allow students to explore the science of sound in these instruments. Your classroom music center can always be a place students choose to go with any free exploration time to engage in listening and writing prompts, to creatively compose “just because,” or to feel connected to content through the power of music.