We made some beautiful tooled aluminum musical instrument drawings and framed them with tempera paint and oil pastel last year. It’s one of my favorite projects but it takes so long to complete the many steps. This year I took that idea but changed the tooled drawing part to just have a Sharpied drawing instead of engraving the drawing on aluminum.
We started this project by talking about musical instruments. I set up 6 musical instrument posters throughout my room, and we went on an “active drawing” pre-drawing activity. Active listening is where you listen to what someone says to you and re-phrase it back to them to show you were listening or give them an opportunity to clarify something you partially understood. The active drawing exercise helps you build muscle memory and start looking at the instrument details more closely than you ever have before.
I split the classes into small groups of 3 or 4 students, and they spent about 2 minutes at each musical instrument poster tracing the curves of every detail with their fingers. While one person was actively tracing the posters, the remaining people in the group looked for a detail they hadn’t seen before.
The students make their way to each station (musical instrument or musical instrument poster) actively drawing (tracing it with their fingers). Once they’ve completed each station, I let them choose a station to begin their pencil drawing. When a station has 4 people, it’s officially closed and the students have to choose another drawing station.
Next, I pre-cut the paper frames and hand them out. They use their own drawing (their favorite from the 3 drawings) to trace the rectangle in the middle of their paper frame. Then I demo how to paint the tempera paint frame and how to draw patterns on their frame.
If you can time out this project with when the middle school bands and orchestras come to your school to give their recruiting performance and discussion, all the better! That way, the students get to see not only what their instrument that they drew looks like in person but what it sounds like in action.