Music and Pictures

This series of posts explores connections between music and other Gardner-type multiple intelligences. My previous posts introduced Music and Multiple Intelligence; Music and the Body, Music and Nature, Music and Words, and Music and Numbers.

Roger Ulrich was involved with a study involving the healing effects of nature. In this study the hospital patients did not look at real natural landscapes, only at pictorial representations. Ulrich found these patients had less post-operative anxiety than patients who looked at different types of pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures stimulate the mind and refresh our sense of awe and wonder. I have a digital photo frame on my work desk filled with images of beautiful natural landscapes that sequence through in random order. When I seek a cognitive boost a glance at the picture refreshes my mind and inspires me. Pictures connect learning in a powerful way, which is why students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

Only humans create art and can make sense of art. Art contains meaning and is an expression of thought. Art teachers often play music in their classrooms to inspire creativity and help maintain classroom focus. Likewise, some music classes include art. I worked with a teacher who allowed her students to doodle, draw, or colour in when listening to works in the music syllabus. Catherine found that a mixture of visual art and music enhanced reflection, which allowed students to better contemplate the lesson of the day. In a world where the mass media dictate the pace of events to unsuspecting children, Catherine’s techniques presented an opportunity to reflect in a creative setting filled with music, art, and no hurried deadlines.

Visual imagery can assist in a conceptual understanding of music analysis. Stephen Malinowski’s Music Animation Machine provides a scrolling bar-graph score to music. Different colours represent orchestral instruments, durations are depicted by horizontal line length, and pitch by vertical position. This is useful in understanding concepts such as imitation and fugue. My classes really enjoy the numerous works that Malinowski has made available on YouTube, with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor being a particular favourite.

My next post will explore Music and Emotional Intelligence.

 An excerpt from ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin

The Music Trust (review)    VMTA (review)

“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, New Haven, USA.

“Super book. I am so impressed!” – Donna Michaels, USA

“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK

“Don’t miss this opportunity!” – Mary George, USA

“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog

“Such a practical book. SO glad I purchased this. – Jocelyn Beath, NZ

“Most stimulating!” – Nicholas Carpenter, Prebendal, UK

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

“Awesome! I want to recommend it to every teacher I know” – Michael Williamson, Australia

“I loved it. Extremely helpful and inspiring!” – Cheryl Livingstone, Australia

“The best resource for music educators” – Andrew Heuzenroeder, Australia

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

Amazon UK
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Australia: Contact for direct mail.

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Also by Michael Griffin


Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents.  “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at

BookCoverPreview Bk 2

Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!”  – St George College, Australia

Available at

BookCover VR

‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 123 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.

“This is really good for all kinds of vocal groups, choirs, conductors. Bravo!!”

“The thinking person’s guide to training a choir. Love it!”

“It’s great to have some fresh warm-ups to add to the repertory. The tips for actions and techniques are really useful, and the advice at the back of the book has made me review some of my strategies.”

harmony bk cover

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging.  Available at


Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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Posted in art, Multiple Intelligence, Music Education, pictures, prep, primary

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