CD Design: Integrating Art, Music and Information Technology
Lukawecky, Kristine, Arts & Activities
What is more important to eighth-grade students than their music and their friends? Not much!
With this in mind, our school's Instrumental Music Teacher, Mike Elmer, and I decided to collaborate on a project that would provide students with an opportunity to work with their friends to create a high-quality musical keepsake of their eighth-grade graduating year, while integrating expectations from the music, visual arts and information technology curriculums.
We envisioned our students composing, performing and recording a music CD, and then using computer software to create a professional-looking cover for the CD. (This project is also appropriate for high-schoolers.)
In order to complete a project of this scale, however, Mike and I realized that we would need additional funds to purchase new equipment, as well as some consumable items. We applied for a grant from the Halton Learning Foundation, which raises money to support special projects in schools in our region. Our application was accepted and we received a very generous grant to purchase a digital recording station, a microphone, a digital camera, a color ink-jet printer, blank CDs and CD cases.
THE MUSIC OF ART Mike decided to have the students compose a musical selection in a style of their choice. The open-ended nature of the assignment appealed to most students. Some chose to create instrumental selections, while others wrote lyrics for their songs. Many worked in small groups of two or three, and a few chose to complete solos. Students wrote, performed and digitally recorded their music compositions. Mike then burned these compositions as tracks onto a class CD. Each eighth-grade student then received a copy of the class CD.
In my visual arts class, the students each designed a cover for their personal copy of the class CD. They began by creating a plan for their project that identified the mood, feeling or theme they were trying to communicate, and the elements and principles of design they would use to help convey these concepts. For example, one student, who wanted to create a CD cover that reflected the fun, funky nature of the eighth-grade class, focused on the principles of proportion and variety. She distorted the proportions of the people on her cover to make it humorous and used bright colors.
The students actually found this planning stage much more difficult than I expected. Many of them had a hard time visualizing what their final product would look like because they did not fully understand the capabilities of the software. Consequently, the next time I do this project I will be sure to give a full demonstration of the software before students begin their plans, and I will share a large range of student examples with my class.
SHUTTERBUGS After completing their plans, students took turns using a digital camera to take at least one original photo. They photographed a wide range of subject matter, including musical instruments, friends, flowers, jewelry and even a toilet! Some brought special objects from home to photograph, while others used objects found around the school.
The students really enjoyed working with their friends to complete this part of the project and had a hard time keeping their photography sessions to a reasonable length. We only had two digital cameras to work with, the one purchased by the Halton Learning Foundation and my own personal camera, which meant that it was important that students make efficient use of their time with the camera. …