Music Composition and Photography
Harold C. La Mott
Woodman Park School, Dover, New Hampshire
"Students who had difficulty with written language developed
alternative forms of communication through music, art, photography,
Purpose and Description of Project
Harold La Mott aimed at developing a synergistic project that
stressed the integration of music composition, still photography,
poetry, and art as an alternative means of communication. His
goal was to bring this about by creating a music/slide show based
on his students' original composition.
Students listened to several pieces of music that had been written
to evoke images and then reported to the class on the uses of
videos with contemporary music. Students were asked to create
a set of lyrics for an original song that could then be illustrated
with pictures. They brainstormed possible subjects, ideas, and
feelings, and, in their language arts classes, the participating
classes selected a topic and wrote a poem for the lyrics.
The next step was to create the music-by calling out random numbers
that corresponded to notes on the piano, or by the students' actually
creating melodies at the piano or synthesizer. Students made decisions
as to the mood-i.e., major or minor. La Mott used the synthesizer
to help students decide on a rhythm. The melody was transcribed
by the students on a staff, and then, in preparation for illustrating
the lyrics with photography, they designed record jackets for
their song. After experimenting with various musical instruments,
the students decided on their song's arrangement. The students
discussed how they could share their creative experiences and
decided on a slide/tape presentation.
Junior high school students in the Title I-sponsored camera club
agreed to take the slides, based on the possible scenes suggested
by the sixth graders. Students from the elementary school band
recorded the songs, and the camera club helped in synchronizing
the lyrics and the slides under the supervision of their advisor.
The finished product was presented at a public performance. The
slide/tape show was used as a measure of how effectively the students
communicated their ideas.
Materials, Resources, and Expenses
The language arts teacher assisted La Mott's students in writing
the lyrics, and the eighth-grade camera enthusiasts, under the
supervision of their club advisor, transposed the lyrics into
visual form, photographed the scenes, developed the slides, and
synchronized the slide/tape show. Workshops funded by the parent/teacher
association were designed to give the sixth graders an appreciation
of musical composition and lyric writing, and to give the eighth
graders an understanding of photography as an art and a unique
means of communication.
Outcomes and Adaptability
Pre- and post-tests showed an increase of student knowledge of
photography terms and of the uses of photos and musical concepts
in conveying ideas. Students who had difficulty with written forms
were able to use music, poetry, and photos as alternative means
of communication. Motivation remained high as students derived
pleasure from creating something of their own.
La Mott suggests that the project could be initiated in music,
art, or language arts classes. He concluded that the project was
easily adaptable to multi-grade levels and abilities and to individual,
small group, and large group settings.