In Music and Science

From 1994 to 1997, The Arts Catalyst organised music and science projects for 6 - 9 year olds in schools in Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Merton, Haringay, Barnet and Wandsworth.

The projects were led by teams comprising a music workshop leader and a science workshop leader - Graham Brand and Sam Mason, and Jonathan Wheeler and Rebecca Askew.

Each project culminated in a performance of a piece of music which the class itself had composed during the project. Projects linked directly to the science curriculum activities planned for that term by the class teacher and were based around 3 themes: Vibrations, Patterns, Mind & Body. The workshops explored the interaction of science and music on a number of different of levels: practical science-in-action sessions, centred on the science curriculum and based around music and discovering the science of sound, senses, instruments and musical structure; participatory creative sessions in music, drawing on information and the pupils' own ideas from the complementary science sessions and teaching composition and performance skills; compositions and performance of music created from discoveries made during the day.

A Teachers' Pack was produced to support music and science activities outside the workshops.

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Creative Arts Project: Astro Black Morphologies

Flow Motion Astro Black Morpholoties schools project

Working in partnership with Highfield Primary and Bassett Green Primary School, the John Hansard Gallery provided young pupils with the opportunity to participate in a large scale art-science project, based on its recent exhibition, Astro Black Morphologies. The project, lasting ten days, led over 300 children, between the ages of 4 and 11, on a journey through outer space. The children started their journey by exploring the innovative, multi-sensory exhibition of sound and visual transformation of Black Hole data at the John Hansard Gallery. Through open discussion, the young pupils considered how art and science complement each another before creating their own art-science work.


Supported by the expertise of Museum Studies, Physics and Astronomy/Astrophysics student volunteers from the University of Southampton, artist Ratna Begum worked with pupils to depict designated themes of the solar system on 8ft tall panels. A total of 15 wall panels were designed by the pupils to display in their schools. The panels, once linked together, materialized into one large scale painting of Earth to the edge of the Universe!

Funded by

This project was financially supported by a Community Fellowship grant (made possible by the Higher Education Active Community Fund).


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Sound Forms, Antony Hall & Heathbrook School

Exploring sounds through electronics and self made instruments.

Antony Hall designed and led a 5-week workshop programme for two Year 5 classes and teachers to explore sound through electronics and self made instruments.

Working with ideas from music, science, design technology and art and design, Antony encouraged the teachers and pupils to experiment with sound, through drawing and with the sound itself, physically locating the vibrations. The groups challenged their understanding of sound using self-built circuit boards and sound wave generators, eventually recording their work using digital technology and finally producing CDs.

The project culminated in a performance for the entire school, parents and funders on the 14th of December. It also left an exhibition and a set of materials for the project to be used in future Key Stage 2 projects on music and electronics.

This project generated training both for the young people and also for the teachers through weekly evening sessions.

Artist's Website:

Antony Hall

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The Lab

An interdisciplinary arts-science curriculum project

Teachers days, artists' training and workshops for students took place during the 2004/5 school year. The artists worked within three main themes, Transformation: Sound and Electronics, The Changing Nature of Materials and (Un)Natural Selection: biodiversity to biotechnology.

The artists:

Flow Motion (Anna Piva and Eddie George) worked with pupils to record and process sounds from their environment. They created loops and rhythms, used multi-track and mix. The final piece, interspersed with moments of melody, driving rhythm and rap, contained intensely personal voices and sounded astonishingly professional.

Kate Tierney worked with pupils using stills camera and video. Using reflection as a theme, the pupils began to manipulate images using Photoshop and Flash. The finished piece brought together still and video images and animated text and showed a budding awareness and obvious delight in abstract visual language. A presentation/installation which combined the visuals from Kate’s workshop with the sound from Flow Motion’s workshop was screened at the end of the three days.

Lucy Stockton-Smith’s workshops were designed to encourage the pupils to explore and identify the structure and function of organic materials. They made slides of organic materials which they projected large scale and used as a basis for drawings and prints. The workshops were a hotbed of fervent discussion and activities throughout the two days.

Sally Hampson’s workshops were also designed to explore and identify the structure of organisms. The pupils used close observation to create beautiful, finely detailed lifelike drawings and sculptures. The concept of the museum was also explored imaginatively.

Siobhan O’Neill’s workshops used drama and storytelling to explore the role that genetics and culture play in defining what makes us unique and what similarities we share. Over the two days each pupil created a self-portrait with sound, image and text that showed a growing expansive awareness of self.

Tony Hall’s workshops explored cymatics, patterns in liquids caused by sound. Pupils devised their own experiments with household liquids and foodstuffs to create choreographies of changing patterns, which they captured with drawings, microscopic images and short digital videos.

Marcus Ahlers worked with the pupils to build Solar Puddles and Solar Cells, and explored their practical applications. A Solar Puddle, consisting of a shallow pool of water in the earth contained by layers of plastic tarp and insulated from below with natural materials, pasteurises water. The Solar Cell, built from junk materials such as plastic bottles and tubing, utilizes natural dyes extracted from plants and converts solar energy into electrical energy.

Artist Luke Jerram held workshops for 11 year olds about to start in Year 7 at Castle Community School as part of a summer school. The children made hot air balloons and seacraft.


Castle Community School, Creative Partnerships Kent.

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Near Earth: A Week of Space Creation

A week of Space Creation at the Roundhouse, London, with artists and scientists took 100 young people on a journey that explored space through digital photography, animation, sound and music, drama and the performing arts. Part of SPACE SOON.

Workshops were led by Semiconductor, Luke Jerram, Kate Tierney, Tony Hall, Trevor Mathison, Mat Fox, Marcus Ahlers, Hilary Westlake and Morag Wightman, with the input of scientists Chris Welch, Kevin Fong and Mark Lythgoe.

Part of the international art and space event Space Soon.

Space Animation

Led by Semiconductor - animation artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhadt - participants took snapshots produced from satelites orbiting the earth and explored how to create time-lapse digital animation sequences.

Space Digital Film & Photography

Led by arist Luke Jerram, participants explored the tricks of film and photography and learned how experts manipulate images from space. 

Space Radio

Led by artists Kate Tierney and Antony Hall, participants worked to decode and transmit sound from space.

Space Music 1 - Recorded

Led by musician Trevor Mathison, participants experimented with panning, overlaps, fades, dissolves, delay and reverbs to record their journey to space.

Space Music 2 - Live

Led by Mat Fox. Participants joined an out-of-this world band and created some cosmic sounds and recorded their own live sessions.

Exploring Energy

Led by Marcus Ahlers, participants collected electricity from sunlight, built hydrogen fuel cells and became energy technologists of the future.

Space Drama

Led by theatre maker ilary Westlake. Participants explored outer space themes using iconic music and images and created a striking theatrical performance.

Space Movement

Led by dancer Morag Wightman. Participants worked suspended off the floor and explored aerial dance with Morag Wightman, one of the very few dancers to experience zero gravity first hand, to create a new piece exploring gravity.

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