Musical Critique

Any activity that gets students out of their seats and writing about Art is a good thing. The Musical Critique is a take on the more formal 4 steps of Art Criticism mixed with musical chairs.

As a refresher the 4 Steps of Art Criticism are as follows:

Description: What do you See? Literal description of the artwork.

Analysis: How is the work organized? Use the Elements and Principles to figure out how the artist put this work together.

Interpretation: What is the artist saying? What is going on in this artwork, is there a story or message?

Judgement: Is this a successful piece of art? Why or why not?

After students have become familiar with using this method to describe classic works of art, they are ready to begin on this critique. I recommend tailoring the 4 steps to match whatever rubric or criteria you have for the project. For example, the worksheet I attached is for Gridded Self Portraits in our Realism unit. To save paper (and depending on your budget) I would laminate a class set of worksheets and have students record their responses in their sketchbooks. The best part of this for students is reading their feedback, so have them layout their own sketchbook, opened to a blank page, next to the artwork so others may write responses in one place.

All you have to do is pick a song to play (I would pick the most ridiculous song you can find just to get them excited), have students get up walk the room, and when the music stops find a place to sit with an artwork! If your room is organized by tables, it’s a good idea to tell them they cannot sit back at their own table. Trust me, the laziness of high schoolers will amaze you. Each time you play music, students must change artworks, read through the previous answers, and answer the next criticism step. You may even give them a chance to respond in their sketchbook about how accurate the feedback was when they return to their seats.

Here is a sample project and the musical critique worksheet (Musical Critique Realism.pdf):

student self portrait

I let my students pick out disguises/costumes (borrowed from the drama department) for their self portraits if they wish, helps get great photos from the more shy students and lets everyone have a little more fun with the project.Musical Critique Worksheet


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