Implementation of “Music and Colors” (SOI-GR-402)

Author: Sofia Eleftheriou, Music Educator

School/Organization: 1st School of Thebes, Greece

The learning scenario “Music and Colors” was the occasion for the expansion of the lesson to Dutch Renaissance and Baroque music through experiential learning. The choice of this particular scenario was made with the aim of an interdisciplinary approach to descriptive music, as well as bridging the arts of painting and music. Also, through virtual reality, children were given the opportunity to “visit” the Van Gogh Museum, to relate a work of art to music and movement, and in the end, to create their own virtual exhibition.


The learning scenario “Music and Colors” by Paraskevi Foti was used as a basis for creating a lesson plan on introducing descriptive music to preschool age children and introducing them to Renaissance and Baroque music. The completion time for the implementation story was 2 teaching hours for 7-year-old children in the 2nd grade of primary school. During the lesson, the children came into contact with famous works of art, discovered virtual reality, experienced Renaissance and Baroque music through active listening to the works, and created their own virtual digital exhibition.

Introduction: Sunflowers

The lesson started with the presentation of the artwork “Sunflowers” by Vincent Van Gogh exhibited in Van Gogh Museum and his portrait from images in the Europeana resources. The children made their own analysis of the artwork, discussed the colors chosen by the painter, whether they were warm or cool. They then combined the warm colors of the artwork with the summer season. At this point, the connection was made between the season, the colors, and the sunflowers that are cultivated during this time. We talked about sunflowers and their unique ability to follow the sun. The children also observed the size of the flowers in the artwork, the fact that they are in a vase on a table, and created small stories about how they might have ended up there.

Figure Self-portrait – 1887 – Rijksmuseum, Netherlands – Public Domain.

Music and movement activity 

Sunflowers with Vivaldi. We mentally transported ourselves to endless fields with sunflowers, feeling the warmth of summer under the musical background of the first part of “Summer” by Antonio Vivaldi, Allegro non molto. I used the Europeana resources to show the children a portrait of the composer and to say a few words about him, his time, and the music he composed. At this point, the children transformed themselves into sunflowers in the meadow. At first, they were curled up like seeds in the soil. Gradually, they unfolded, spreading their arms like leaves and petals. They were swaying to Vivaldi’s music at first calmly and lazily, following the sun. As the wind grew stronger, their movements became more intense and then calmed down again, following the tone of the music.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Van Gogh

Speaking about Van Gogh’s origin, we listened to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck‘s Pavana Lacrymae while looking at his portrait and the editions of his works from Europeana resources. Reference was made to the composer’s origin, which is the same as Van Gogh’s. The children talked about the differences between the two musical works, the characteristics of Pavana Lacrymae, the speed, and the style.

Music and Movement Activity

Following the Pavana Lacrymae, the following music and movement activity took place, in which the children were divided into three groups:

  • Children
  • Sunflowers
  • Van Gogh

In a field of sunflowers, which follow the path of the sun during the day, as well as the gentle summer breeze, a group of children appear who admire these beautiful flowers. They decide to take some of them with them and give them to their favorite artist, Van Gogh. When Van Gogh sees them, he is thrilled by their beauty and uniqueness, places them in a vase, and decides to paint them.

The children followed the style and tempo of the music for their movements.

Virtual visits 

After the music and movement story ended, the children went on a virtual visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which excited them. They also watched Vincent van Gogh art ALIVE and Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.

The little Van Goghs have their own exhibition

At the end, the children became little Van Goghs and painted their own sunflowers while listening to the aforementioned musical pieces, and then created their own digital exhibition with their works.

The music played in the digital exhibition is the musical pieces they learned during the lessons.

Learning outcomes

The main learning outcome that achieved with the implementation of the learning scenario is the connection between music and art. The children came into contact with significant works of art, both in music and painting. Many of the students may never have the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh Museum. However, our virtual tour gave them the joy of getting to know the museum and the works of the famous painter. It is also very important that they heard and experienced Baroque and Renaissance music.

Outcomes using Europeana platform

Europeana is the digital platform of Europe for cultural heritage that provides free online access to more than 53 million digitized objects from museums, archives, libraries, and galleries across Europe. It is a very important tool in the educational process as students come into contact with European cultural heritage. Through interdisciplinary learning, utilizing Europeana resources cultivates artistic literacy in students.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? ‘Music and Colors’ (SoI-EL-CUR-743),created by Paraskevi Foti

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Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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