Lesson plan - musical moods


Music appreciation and interpretation through visual art – Allows students to respond to music from different cultures through abstract line drawing.


  • To enhance students’ awareness of the presence of music in all cultures.
  • To aid students’ appreciation of the variety of sounds in music.
  • To develop students’ understanding of the moods conveyed by music.
  • To represent musical qualities through visual art.


  • Three short pieces of music, each from a different culture and with contrasting qualities/moods.
  • Large coloured crayons.
  • Sheets of A3 paper – one per piece of music, per student.
  • Edicol or food dyes in a variety of colours.

What to do

  1. Teacher facilitates a whole class discussion about the students’ favourite music, why they like it and how it makes them feel.
  2. Students listen to the three pieces of music.
  3. After listening to each piece again, students offer words or phrases to describe the music: these may refer to the sounds, mood or instruments being played.
  4. Students are asked to speculate about a situation in which each piece of music would be suitable eg for dancing, as a lullaby, for an action film etc.
  5. Students listen to the first piece again and this time depict the music through a line drawing. Students choose a coloured crayon which they feel ‘matches’ the piece and may be guided by the following instructions:
    ‘Start with your crayon in a corner of your paper. While you are listening to the music, draw how the music sounds to you by letting your crayon wander across and around the paper. Feel the music in your hand. Make shapes with your line drawing that look like the music feels.’ It may be helpful to model this process for students using one of the pieces of music.
  6. Students compare their line drawings and teacher elicits descriptions of similarities and differences between them. Teacher tells students about the cultural origin and use (if applicable) of the piece of music.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other two pieces of music, using a separate piece of paper and a different coloured crayon for each one.
  8. Students apply a coloured wash over each drawing, choosing a colour and style they feel is appropriate.
  9. The pictures may be grouped together for each piece of music for display.

Extension activities

Students may use other means of interpreting the music, including:

  • facial expressions
  • hand movements
  • dance movements.

Adapted from a Living in Harmony Funded Project, ‘All Together Now’, Churches’ Commission on Education, WA, 1999.