Children paint to imagination’s tune in ENMU, Melrose schools joint project

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Melrose Elementary School fifth graders Jaydan Beard, from left to right, Victoria Adame, and Zoe Rodriguez paint Friday during a session at the school.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Paint intertwines with the sound of a wind symphony in a collaboration between Eastern New Mexico University and Melrose Municipal Schools.

Kate Karr, Melrose school music director and ENMU voice instructor, has instituted the Art-2-Music project.

ENMU artists Christopher Calderon and Heather Hancock taught Melrose third- through sixth-graders painting techniques week before last. This past week, students painted what they imagined while listening to the wind symphony piece “Paris Sketches.”

“They all hear the exact same piece, and it is so neat to see their different interpretations on paper,” Karr said.

As the project’s finale, the 60 students are expected to attend the ENMU Wind Symphony/Symphonic Band Concert, where their paintings are to be displayed, tonight.

“It’s a wonderfully creative experience where they learn to paint what’s in their imagination,” Karr said.

The students also learned a technique of using bamboo art brushes and listened to classical music in a day when they’re inundated with media, Karr continued.

“There hasn’t been one student who’s turned their nose up at the music or the project,” she said.

Hancock said students learning to express themselves visually and have a creative outlet is important.

Karr said another benefit to the students is learning concert etiquette and to hear live music.

Students said they liked the project.

“I like that we get to paint and express what’s in our imagination and what we’re feeling and go on the field trip on Sunday,” fifth-grader Zoe Rodriguez said.

Fifth-grader Jada Smith said the project is fun because students could use their imaginations and paint whatever they wanted. Fifth-grader Joshua Mitchell said his favorite part was listening to new music and painting to it, and he thought the concert would be “cool” because he could listen to new music there, too.

Jada said she thought Sunday’s concert might be boring because she doesn’t like listening to music, but she’s looking forward to seeing her painting on display. Jada’s sister, sixth-grader Jessica Carey, on the other hand, said she thought the concert would be “cool” because she’d never seen a wind symphony play before.

ENMU Music Department Chairman Dustin Seifert, one of the conductors for the concert, said the project allowed the citizenry to understand “the greatness that (art) contributes to society” and emphasizes the total-curricular nature of what educators are trying to do.

Seifert said he couldn’t wait to see the students at the concert.

“Their reactions will be priceless,” he said, adding that the timing is great because adults are uneasy but students’ positive reactions are a sign that the future is bright.