Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Art, part 2

Art, part 2

One could argue that art and music are worth studying because of the beauty they bring to life. When time and funds are limited more justification for studying them might be needed. Let’s look at some of the skills taught in art and music. These are in no particular order.

A big item on that list of skills taught in art and music is perseverance. The first time a student draws a picture, it is rarely correct. The shape may be off or the color. Sometimes it just doesn’t look right. And so the student draws it again, improving on the outcome. The first dragon my fifth grader drew was barely recognizable. She decided the head was too big, the wings were not in the right proportion, the tail too short. But she continued to draw them, learning more about perspective, shading, proportion, and color. She persevered. And her dragons are pretty incredible now. As part of that perseverance she learned some other valuable skills as well. Among those skills were self-criticism, perspective, and prioritization.

We can look at those for a moment. Self-criticism, this is an ability to look at one’s own work, see it’s flaws, and explore how to improve on those flaws. In being able to be self-critical, students learn to be less sensitive to criticism by others. Perspective is another valuable skill. In a class of art students, sitting around a bowl of fruit, drawing what they see, each will have a different view point. This is important not only in art but in life. And finally, prioritization. The ability to put things in order of importance serves the student not only in the composition of a picture, or the understanding of a piece of music played by an orchestra. It helps them make judgements in other subjects and in life.

The study of art and music can be presented to a student in two different modes. They can be taught with an eye (or ear) to performance. For visual arts, this would be learning and employing the techniques to draw, or paint, or sculpt. For music, this would be actually learning to play an instrument, and the study of music theory. The arts can also be taught with appreciation in mind. In studying the Masters in art, the student can gain not only an understanding of the artist’s viewpoint, but also place those artists in historical perspective. By listening to and studying great composers of music, the student learns to appreciate tone, pitch, rhythm, and flow. In the process of studying art and music, from either perspective, the student gets to see beauty and hear it. Surely there is room in your homeschooling curriculum for that!

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