Paintings & Special schools


Pield Heath House School

College Park school visiting the gallery

Shaftesbury High School making and music

College Park video resource to support exploring their art

The Vision of Saint Eustace

about 1438-42, Pisanello

The Garden of Eden

Jan Brueghel the Elder


Parade music

Ofili installation music

Bacchus & Ariadne

Rest loop

Everyday loop

Tense loop







In Sense it! and Explore it! workshops at the National Gallery, musicians and music can be used to help SEN pupils to:

Engage with and explore the paintings

  • Assist pupils in focusing in on elements in the paintings.
  • Help SEN pupils “read” and recognise elements in the paintings.
  • Enchant the children so they enter into the paintings using their imagination, to bring the paintings to life.
  • Evoke the atmosphere of a painting, either by the playing of the musician, or by the creative responses of the children to the painting.
  • Creatively to respond to a painting using sounds, words and music.
    Inspire pupils to express elements such as, humans, animals, plants, buildings, rivers.
  • Inspire pupils to move like elements in the painting using dance and movement.
  • Create, perform and listen to, soundscapes, in order to further immerse the children in the painting.
  • Repetition creating sounds of a painting and performing and recording, and of listening back, can build the confidence of individuals in developing a knowledge of their own creative potential.
  • Recording and playing back a soundscape can increase the enjoyment of looking at a painting.

Engage in art activities

  • Support art making activities, helping to create a productive atmosphere through use of tempo, style, mood and dynamics.
  • Interact with the the art making, using improvisation, responding to what is being noticed and created.

Assist the artist workshop leader

  • Add another dimension to experiencing the paintings (using all of the senses)
    Give the artist leader a moment to do things they may need to do.

Project process

  • Responding to paintings, and creating sounds for different elements in a painting and building a soundscape can build a familiarity.
  • This sense of “ownership” of a painting through music can become, imaginatively, a safe place, psychologically, for children to play and explore throughout the different settings in the process – school, creative space and in front of the painting.
  • Songs and sounds can help the children to feel orientated and safe in the different spaces.
  • Help pupils in the transition between outreach to school and visit to Gallery.
  • Recordings of the children’s music can be used when we are not present so participants can continue to explore the painting further.
  • Sound and picture presentations can be created to assist the teacher to explore follow up ideas in between and after sessions.

In relation to the children’s needs music can:

  • Extend our multi sensory approach.
  • Communicate with non verbal children, and/or children with limited speech and/or movement.
  • Support, respond to, interact with, and extend the children’s experience, of the gallery and the paintings.
  • Encourage creativity and play through improvisation using sounds and songs.
  • Develop a dialogue with children through improvisation
    Support children’s cognitive needs and frameworks of communication.