- Curriculum: Art, Dance & Music, History, Social Studies
- Age/Grade: Above 14, Elementary 3, Middle School
- Subject: Analysis and Theory, Exhibition, Multi-Media, Performance
- Materials: Mixed Media, Pencils
- Institution: The Keith Haring Foundation
- Location: New York, New York
- Duration: 9 or More Classes
During the 1980s, music, dance, fashion, and art experienced a boom of energy and innovation. It was also during the 80s that Haring came into prominence and produced most of his signature work. This series of lessons seeks to explore the cultural and creative phenomenons of the 1980s for the youth of today. The Music lesson gives students the opportunity to create music videos using their favorite songs, implementing the use of story boards and set design.
To assist students in thinking sequentially, as they would in writing, but with music and video, other time-based mediums that allow for narratives to unfold and transform.
To provide students with the freedom to express themselves creatively while using a technical and conceptual framework in which to discover critical thinking skills.
To challenge students to work collaboratively, as well as to build tolerance and understanding for other students' creative tastes.
To expand students' understanding of the filters involved with how we experience art- listening to music vs. seeing a music video.
To give students experience in using equipment they might not otherwise be exposed to.
To share with students creative career paths that are available in the arts.
White drawing paper
One sheet of black construction paper
Large roll of white paper (or even better- photo backdrop paper)
Microphone (unplugged, optional)
Clip lamps (optional)
Old dress-up clothes
In preparation for this lesson, create a story board template. To do this, cut out a square shape from a small piece of black construction paper (aprox. 3" x 3"). Then cut out a rectangle below it. Photocopy it on white paper and repeat it several times so that the image appears as a series of TV sets with caption spaces below each one. Photocopy enough story boards for an entire class.
Listen to students' favorite songs in class (make sure music is appropriate for the classroom setting while preparing). During each song, without identifying the student who chose the song playing, ask each student to write down a few words or feelings they experience while listening to it. At the end of each song, ask students to share their thoughts with the class. Identify the student who chose that song and have all of their classmates provide them with a list of their notes observed while they were listening.
Bring in some comic books. Examine how the drawings tell a story depending on the perspective and proximity to the subject. Explore the idea of who is documenting (who is framing the picture), how they relate to the subject (the information included in the picture), and the meaning of their vantage point to the narrative (the purpose of including this picture in order to tell a story). (Comic Book lesson plan)
Next, introduce Story Boards. Discuss how they are used- for commercials, movies, music videos, job presentations... Examine why the use of story boards would be the most appropriate form of presentation to convey a story using pictures (or visual narrative). Compare the notes observed from the comic books with story boards. How are they used? Are they designed for the same audience? Does a different audience dictate their differences? Are comics and story boards created by the same kind of artists? How do they differ?
Show students several music videos (try to find some older videos from the 1980's by Boy George, Madonna, The Go Go's... as well as some more recent music videos- compare and contrast the videos). Using story board dittos, have them map out the key shots that form up the story line. Remind them to consider where the camera is shooting from.
Ask students to think of their favorite song. Have them bring in their songs for the next class (CD format).
Tell students they are going to create their own music videos.
Using their favorite song, they will create story boards of the video to prepare for such things as camera angles, set changes, movements or dance routines, costumes, narrative elements, dialogue, and camera effects. Using the notes they received from their classmates, encourage students to consider what they would like others to take away from the song AND from their performance and ask them to write a few notes down. Next, have them come up with a WHERE, a WHEN, a HOW, and a WHOM for their music video story.
Hand out story board dittos. Remind students that similar to their song (and to the music video they saw as a class, as well as in letter writing), that there is an opening and a closing as well as a body (and perhaps a bridge) to their song. These elements must be considered as well as the angles, costume, set, and any special effects they might choose. Remind them also, of the comic books and how vantage points can convey a lot of information- what happens when a the camera is down low pointing up, what happens when it's pointing down low from high up? What happens when it's very close to the subject, very far away? Challenge them to include various techniques and vantage points in their story board. They may draw the shots in the TV parts of the story board and may make notes in the space below each TV.
For homework, ask students to find the wardrobe they will require for the person/people who will appear in their video (including themselves). This will determine the "WHOM" category of their music video plan.
Using a roll of paper, provide students with paint and painting supplies to paint their backdrops- this will clarify the "WHERE" and "WHEN" categories of their videos. Student may want to use part of the paper to roll on to the ground so that they can create a floor as well as a backdrop. Other students may need additional props painted on foam core. Reinforce mixing colors instead of using paint straight out of the tube, in addition, remind students of the kinds of brushes and brush strokes that they can use as well as creating varying densities of paint with water. The more complex the students' relationship is to paint and its possibilities, the more they will learn from the medium. Keep in mind that students should be working large- they are painting the illusion of space, not a picture, so their scale ratio should be 1-1.
For homework, ask students to listen to their chosen song several times while looking over their story board. Ask them to make notes on their story board containing the cue number of where their CD is at the point in the song where they need to stop the camera and change the angle/characters/set... Also have students bring in any additional props they think they might need.
Bring in some lamps for lighting.
Couple off a few students so that they can help one another in the production of each of their music videos. Select spaces around the room for each student to hang their set and prepare their space. Each student group should determine who will go first. Their "Production Assistants" should help them prepare their costume/s and make-up. The artists should make sure the first camera angle that they've chosen has the correct effect they are seeking and excludes all space beyond the set. Set up lighting. Make sure stereo is in close proximity to the camera so that no outside noise is picked up. Only one video should be filmed at a time. Cue up the CD and keep the notes to the numbers on the track to pause at for change in camera angles, make sure everyone's in their place and the camera is set up on the tripod in the first angle shot, and begin rolling- artists should be lip syncing the words. The assistants will pause the CD at the same time that the camera is shut off, the new camera angle will be chosen, lighting will be adjusted- if needed, and filming/music will begin where they left off until the process needs to be repeated again. When the artist is finished, they will trade places with their assistants and will help them to make their music videos. If there is no tripod available and/or you would prefer the shoot be in one take, teach students how to hold and maneuver the camcorder properly, using very slow hand movements and zoom to acheive the desired effects.
When the videos are complete, tape a copy containing all of the videos for each student.
Watch each music video. During each song, have students write down a few words and feelings that come to mind. When that music video is complete, ask a few students to share what they wrote. Relate these responses to the first set of responses to the song before the music videos were made. How do the responses compare? How did video transform the music? Why did the video transform the music?
Did your perception of the song change from when you heard it alone to when you heard it as part of a music video? How did it change? Why do you think your perception might have changed?
How did the performance alter your interpretation of the song?
How did elements of the production (set, costume, story line, camera shots, editing) alter your interpretation of the song?
Can the interpretation of a piece of art (music, dance, film, art, literature) shift?
What sort of factors influence art to be reinterpreted? (time, context in which is presented...)
Are elements of the production forms of art as well as the music itself? Why?
When did the music video industry begin? What do you think inspires musicians to create music videos?
How did performing in your music video transform your own personal relationship to the song you love?