Artistically Interpreting Music

Days needed: 1 class period (lasting approx. 15-20 min.)

Goal: Students will be artistically illustrating their interpretations, including musical themes or emotional feelings, of a piece of music that is presented to the class.


  • Students will be able to verbalize the musical concepts of tempo and dynamics.
  • Students will be able to illustrate their interpretation of the music by expressing the music visually, or by connecting the music to inner emotions.
  • Students will explain their illustration about the piece of music.


  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Printer paper (enough for a whole class)
  • Spotlight on Music CD (Grade 3, Disc 9, Track 13)
    • Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges

Student Input (personal connection): The students’ personal connection that I would like to cultivate is an emotional understanding of the musical piece presented in this lesson. Students will be able to express some sort of interpretation of the music through their illustration, and then continue to explain that interpretation and what it means to their personal life.

Lesson Procedure:

  • (2 min) Introduce the music for the day: The Love for Three Oranges by Prokofiev
    • Piece will last approx. 1.5 minutes
  • (5 min) Explain to students that the melody remain constant throughout the piece, however, in order to keep it interesting, the composer did…. “What?”
    • Questions students as to what they noticed changed throughout the piece.
    • Answers may include: tempo, dynamics, instrumentation of melody, or another other answers of that sort.
  • (2 min) Introduce the assignment : students are going to be illustrating their interpretations of the music on paper. The song will be playing again, so that they can hear it more times, and students are to visually represent the music on paper. What would the music look like? How does the music make you feel (and illustrate those feelings)? These interpretations both work. Make sure students understand that they will be explaining their interpretations to the class at the end of the period.
    • Play track 13 on repeat for approx. 2-3 times
    • Students needn’t talk during this section, they only need to listen and create.
  • ( 3-5 min) Interpretations: Have students explain their work to the class.
    • If time is running short, have them explain their art to a partner in the class. Feel free to come back to this activity during your next period.
    • Include a conclusion that relates back to the music. Maybe include your own interpretation of the music. Or have students remind us about the changes in the piece. (This section doesn’t have to be too major, just a minor closure).


Students should be presenting their illustrations at the end of the class; this includes discussing their reasons for colors, lines, patterns, drawings, etc. Do students understand their interpretations of the music in an art form?

+ If students either make a personal connection between their life and the music, that’s a plus. If students include an explanation about tempo, dynamics, or instrumental changes within their illustration, that also deserves a plus.

- This minus isn’t necessarily negative; it just means that the student was unable to grasp the concept of connecting the music into an artistic illustration. More work could continue with cultivating this concept. Or, maybe the students would be more successful at describing their interpretations verbally, rather than illustrating them. Just ask!


For questions or comments, please contact Mari Hauf