Artistic Learning in Action: Creative collaborative song writing

In this study, 44 grade six students at an independent school in British Columbia took part in a month long interdisciplinary song-writing project. This project asked first-year ukulele players to collaborate on ideas inspired by art that was part of the Biennale Public Art Exhibition. Students then wrote an original song complete with chords and lyrics that examined the ‘big ideas’ of their chosen piece. Students wrote their songs using any process that worked for them, supported by their teacher, a singer-songwriting mentor, and their peers. Students kept ongoing Arts Developmental Workbooks that documented their process and included reflections on their experience. The process was also videotaped, as were the final presentations, which were presented for peers in front of digital images of the chosen art pieces. Despite limited (first-year) ukulele skills, students who participated in this study were able to effectively write songs that communicated the ‘big ideas’ of their chosen pieces of public art. With teacher, mentor, and peer support, and a flexible, open-ended process, students were able to choose a method that worked for them to produce a meaningful song that captured the essence of their chosen artwork. Implications for transformative arts engagement for educators will be discussed.


Bespflug, K., & O’Neill, S. A. (2013, June). Arts in Action: Community art as catalysts for social change through children’s creative collaborative song writing.Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE), University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.