See the Music, Hear the Art:

“See the Music, Hear the Art” began in the 2009-10 season through a $2500 grant from Wells Fargo.  At its core, this program is an interactive class that encourages participants - children and adults alike - to create their own artwork inspired by listening to great works of music, both recorded and live.  Presented by a Sacramento Philharmonic Music Specialist and an Art Specialist, participants learn the processes, techniques, and stories behind the making of music and art; in short, they learn the art of creating.

The children learn how musicians and artists can be influenced and inspired by one another and by their surroundings.  Both express emotions, tell their stories, use the same vocabulary and even have similar techniques.  Musicians “paint” with sound and different sizes and types of instruments creating different “colors”. Visual artists and musicians both blend and mix sounds or colors.  Children quickly recognize that artists and composers have much in common. A musical composition heard in the air equates to seeing a painting on canvas.

“See the Music, Hear the Art” not only teaches the beauty of orchestral music; it enables children to creatively look beyond their own life situations. The program primarily engages groups in transitional housing, shelters and hospitals.  Current sites include Shriners Hospital for Children; Mustard Seed School (Loaves & Fishes); Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE); Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center-Mather Community Campus; and Learning A.R.T.S.  The program is supplemented by visits from professional musicians of the Sacramento Philharmonic and visiting guest artists, performing and interacting with children and their families while at the same time offering role models who can demonstrate the results of persistence and dedication.   Musicians encourage these children to pursue their dreams and goals, especially education.

“Julian blew the conch shell and the kids’ eyes widened with wonder, signaling the start of our first See the Music, Hear the Art session at Mustard Seed School. All of our students in grades 1-8 were assembled around desks and sat enthralled with the shiny tuba resting in front of them. I sat by Elijah, a charismatic nine year-old boy who can be disruptive and often has trouble focusing in larger group settings. He was very interested in the musical aspect of the program and kept asking questions about the instruments.  The program was flexible enough that when he got distracted and roamed into the other room to play the instruments we had there, Julian followed him and they explored together. Other students finished their art work and joined the impromptu jam session. When the indoor space became too confining, we moved out doors. Playing music in that setting was the first time I saw Elijah’s face begin to relax. His shell of street hardened indifference cracked open and was replaced by a glimmer of child-like joy. When the session was over, Elijah was one of the first in line to shake Julian’s hand and offered to help pack up his tuba.”

Angela Hassell, Director, Mustard Seed School

The program has expanded over a four-year period and culminates in an exhibit of the children’s art at the Crocker Museum in the summer, offering increased self-esteem and validation of efforts to disenfranchised children.