Abstract Art and Perpetual Motion

Resident Artists at Conservatory Lab have used student-driven instructional strategies to leverage technology and open up new avenues of expression for students. One way they are nurturing music production and artistic expression for students is through a collaborative online platform called Soundtrap.


Students can record and mix their own music with a straightforward creation interface that parallels many professional mixing programs. Students can create several different moods by selecting a pre-recorded loop, or re-mix and collaborate on each other’s projects. This pushes students to take ownership of their technique: in order to mix effectively, they have to hone their technical skills like playing with the beat and counting. It also brings a breath of fresh air to the repertoire, which becomes more relevant to students when they are encouraged to add their own artistic expression.

Soundtrap has been a great way to recontextualize the Suzuki Repertoire and let the students take ownership of how they want the songs to sound.” Resident Artist Brad Barrett explained how the student composer, Kaelany S. took ownership of the piece,“She recorded a trap-inspired version of this very standard Suzuki piece and she asked me to put down some synth bass on the track for her.  The collaborative nature of these arrangements keeps students evaluating how they want their music to sound, eliminates traditional barriers between teachers and students, and is much more creatively energizing for all parties involved.”

The structure in the remix of this Suzuki piece aligned with an art project that Art Teacher José Santiago’s students did earlier this year. Santiago shared the work of local artist, Destiny Palmer to introduce them to the idea of abstraction.  “Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.” said Santiago, “Palmer represents a role model that students can learn from. She’s an Associate Professor at MASS Art, and her work gives students a good introduction to abstraction.”

Students worked through the definition of abstraction in their own ways using rulers and tape to create lines, and markers to play with color and value. Taking the individual pieces of the definition directly to the page, students are able to form a relationship with visual art.  Using materials that students have access to every day makes it approachable.