Medley’s Creative Ideas focus on a different theme each fortnight and outline ways to engage with music, art and nature on that theme. There are ideas for songs or pieces of music to listen to, play or sing, for art or craft activities to try, and for ways to connect with nature.
Hopefully they could help boost anyone’s mood or wellbeing. They might also specifically engage people who have dementia, or autism, or anxiety, or depression, or a disability.
Follow Medley on Facebook or Twitter and I will post or tweet a link to the latest themed ideas each fortnight. Or find them here!
RAIN AND SNOW 18-31 January
While there are clear sunny days as well, in mid to late winter we do see a lot of rain and sometimes snow too. So Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas focuses on RAIN and SNOW, with songs and music to listen to, art & craft ideas and ways to notice rain and snow in nature in new ways. You might like to share how you get on with the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group
Search and listen, sing along or try playing one or two of the songs or pieces of music. Listen to them while watching rain fall, or looking at a snowy scene if it snows this fortnight where you are.
*Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
*Singing In The Rain (the musical)
*Rhythm of the Rain (a 1960s hit and again in the 1990s)
*It’s Raining (No 2 in 1978 for Darts)
*Prelude “The Raindrop” Op 28 No 15 (Frederic Chopin)
*Snowy Morning Blues (J P Johnson)
*Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson)
*The Skaters Waltz (Waldteufel)
ART & CRAFT
*Draw different animal and bird footprints in black pen on white paper or card, so they look like tracks in the snow (look up different footprints in a book or online).
*Make snowflake patterns by cutting different shaped snowflakes out of white tissue paper or white fabric and sticking them on to black paper or card. Every single snowflake has a unique pattern, so you can let your imagination fly – but they are always six-sided, like a star.
*Paint a snowy scene (maybe a fence and gate covered with snow) or else paint an abstract picture expressing how rain and snow make you feel – maybe a swirling grey pattern.
*Draw or paint a colourful sledge, or someone skating or skiing.
*Draw some umbrellas and decorate them with different designs – patterns or colours – either using pens, paint or collage.
*Notice how snow drains all colour from any view, all becomes bleached white, then notice how all the variety of colour gradually returns as the snow melts and every shade seems brighter than before.
*Think about or listen to the sounds of rain or snow. Snow muffles sound, so that even footsteps going by on the road sound different. Listen to rain falling, maybe pattering on to a roof, dripping or trickling, or pelting on to a window on awindy day. Listen to ice dripping off a tree as it melts in a winter sun.
*Look at reflections in puddles, particularly if it stops raining and the sun comes out. Seeing a tree or wall reflected can make you look at it differently.
*Notice raindrops glistening or gleaming on a tree branch or a spider’s web or on ivy leaves.
8 songs or pieces of music to sing or listen to, 5 art and craft ideas and 4 ways to connect with nature: Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas focuses on the theme of RAIN and SNOW as winter comes to an end. I hope you enjoy them https://medley.live/creative-ideas
DOORS AND ENTRANCES 4-17 January 2021
2021 is here: a new year, maybe a new beginning. So Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas features songs and music, art & craft ideas, and ways to connect with nature, all on the theme of DOORS AND ENTRANCES – opening up a new way ahead.
Search for these songs or pieces of music, listen and sing along, or play them yourself. You could listen while trying one of the art or craft ideas.
*Close Another Door (The Bee Gees)
*Open The Door Homer (Bob Dylan)
Two Doors Down (Dolly Parton)
*Welcome To My World
*On The Steps of the Palace (Stephen Sondheim, from Into The Woods)
*Come Up To My Place (Leonard Bernstein, from On The Town)
*Walls Come Tumbling Down (Paul Weller and The Style Council, played at Live Aid)
*Try painting or drawing doors, gates or other entrances. You could paint doors in different colours, or draw doors open, closed or ajar. You could paint a door framed by trees or other plants, or a window with a colourful windowbox.
*Make different decorations to display on doors. You could use ivy and evergreens to make an outdoor winter wreath or posy. Or you could make an indoor decoration using colourful ribbons or pieces of fabric plaited together to make a ring to suspend from a hook or to tie around a door handle in a bow.
*Try photographing views framed by a doorway or gate. Even just a familiar view of a street could look different seen through an open doorway.
*Make a decorative transparent panel to display in a sunlit window or glass door. Use tissue paper, voile or gauze in bright colours and cut out shapes from it to make a pattern.
*Make a door greetings card. Fold a piece of card, then draw or paint a door on the front of the card. Cut along the top, right hand side and bottom of the door, leaving it attached to the rest of the card down its left hand side. Decorate the inside of the card with a colourful pattern, or a drawing, or a painting or photograph, the size of the door. You could close the card by tying it up with a ribbon.
*Try making a bug hotel, using pieces of wood or recycling all kinds of old containers to construct entrances where insects can shelter. Search online for patterns and instructions.
*Look out for field gates, for stiles, for paths and tracks which open up new ways to go. Look for gaps along a hedge or for trees which form a natural entrance to a field or open space.
*Look down for entrances to animal burrows or setts, or for mole hills. On my walks I sometimes see an old sett and a well-worn path down the slope, but I don’t think it is used anymore. Or look up for holes in tree trunks, where birds might nest or shelter. You could look for all these in pictures in books or online if you can’t see them outdoors.
*Nature could all seem open space to us, but birds and wild animals have a strong sense of territory and will defend their own patch. Look or listen out for birds like robins perched on a branch at the edge of their territory, singing to ward off other birds.
LIGHT AND DARKNESS 14-27 December 2020
Now that darkness falls so early and some days it barely comes fully light at all, I thought I would focus Medley’s latest set of Creative Ideas on LIGHT and DARKNESS. Soon now, slowly, the days will start to draw out once again. You might like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you.
You could try listening to the songs in the darkness as well as by day, and see how you respond differently to them. You could sing or clap along, and search for covers of the songs which are instrumental only.
*Shine A Light
*Blinded by the Light (Bruce Springsteen or cover by Manfred Mann)
*Star of wonder, star of night (We 3 Kings of Orient are)
*You’ll Never Walk Alone (“When you walk through a storm/Hold your head up high/And don’t be afraid of the dark…”)
*In The Still Of The Night
*Candle In The Wind (Elton John)
*Light (Michael Kiwanuka)
*Experiment with painting objects and their shadows: maybe a tree and the shadow it casts, or an ornament and its shadow. A shadow will be cast on the side of the object opposite to or away from the light. Or try photographing objects and their shadows, like my photo here of a houseplant and its shadow by lamplight.
*Cut patterns or shapes out of tissue paper or other transparent, see-through paper or gauzy material in different colours, and display them in the window or even on the windowpane, so daylight and sunlight shine through them. They may cast colourful reflections on the windowledge or floor like stained glass might do.
*As soon as I took up drawing, I learned how important it was to shade my drawings to create the illusion of 3D. So try drawing any item you see and shade in the side of the object further away from the light, and it will look more solid and lifelike.
*Try making a glove puppet to use as a shadow puppet. It needs some distinctive features to stand out and make the shadow more dramatic, so you could make an animal puppet with large ears or a shape puppet with circles and triangles at the top.
*Compare a familiar view in daylight, at dusk and at night – on a bright moonlit night or on a darker, overcast or foggy night. Switch on an outside light and see how it changes a familiar scene like your garden so that it looks like a stage set – or look at the light cast by a street light and how this contrasts with the shadows nearby. See how your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness so you can observe more.
*Notice how different colours shine in the raindrops on wet grass or in water droplets on an icy tree, when the sunlight catches them
*See how the Sun’s height in the sky differs through the day or the year by measuring the shadow cast by a tree or other object. In midwinter the Sun is so low.
TREES, WOODS AND FORESTS 30 November-13 December
Marking National Tree Week and a time of year when many new trees will be planted, Medley’s new Creative Ideas focus on trees, woods and forests – such important parts of any landscape. There are songs and pieces of music to play or listen to, art and craft ideas to try and ways to observe and experience trees, planted singly or growing in a wood or forest. You might like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group
Search and listen, sing or clap. If possible, you could listen outdoors in a wood or looking through a window at some trees. You could even listen while you plant a new tree for National Tree Week.
*Moments In The Woods (from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into The Woods)
*I Talk To The Trees (from Paint Your Wagon)
*Song From The Wood (Jethro Tull)
*A Walk in The Black Forest (Horsl Jankowski)
*Tales From The Vienna Woods (Johann Strauss The Younger)
*The Ash Grove (traditional folk song)
*If you go down to the woods today…
*By Banks of Green Willows (George Butterworth)
*O Christmas Tree
*Try drawing or painting one tree in different media: pencil, charcoal, colouring pencil, pastel, watercolour paint or acrylic – and compare them all.
*Draw tree silhouettes of different tree species which have contrasting shapes, like the squat, broad form of an oak and the tall, narrow poplar. Display them all together.
*Choose a tree you see regularly if possible – maybe a tree in your garden or visible from your window or seen on a walk) and decide to photograph, draw or paint it every month for a year, to record how it changes. Or you could photograph/draw/paint just one branch each month, to focus on how the buds unfurl, leaves open and expand, then tint and fall.
*Cut tree shapes out of different green or brown material, some plain, some patterned. You could stick them on to card to make a fabric forest, or sew them onto white material. Vary the fabric trees’ sizes and shapes.
*Usually we might only cast a fleeting glance at a tree, so try looking more carefully (if you can’t get outside, then look through pictures of trees). Look at the different markings, patterning or colours on their trunks, any ivy on the trees, how high on the trunk the first branches form, the tree’s shape, any early buds and so on.
*If you can find an old tree stump or a log, count the rings. Each ring marks a year of the tree’s growth, so you can work out how old the tree was when it came down.
*Listen to the different sounds trees make on a windy day: the rushing sound of the wind blowing through a conifer or the stirring of bare branches.
*If you can get to a wood or forest, identify as many tree species as you can. As it is winter the tree’s shape will be your main clue, but fallen leaves underfoot might help.
*Take bark rubbings of different trees, or look out for different types of bark. It might be gnarled or fissured, smooth, scaly or patchy.
TIME 16-29 November
Time is the theme for Medley’s latest set of Creative Ideas, at a time of the year when the clocks have changed and day turns to evening earlier and earlier (and when by New Year the days will be drawing out slowly once again). It would be great if you would like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search and listen, or if you play a musical instrument try playing along, or respond by clapping or dancing. Sing along to the songs, or listen while you try one of the art or nature activities.
*(Thank You For The) Days (The Kinks)
*What a difference a day makes
*Yesterday (The Beatles)
*Clock Symphony (Joseph Haydn)
*4’32” (John Cage) – a famous and controversial piece of silence!
*You can’t hurry love (Phil Collins)
*Draw, paint or photograph one scene or view at different times of the day to see how different it looks. This could be the view through your window or any other scene.
*Create a word picture on the theme of time. Write words on the theme (like midnight or year) in different colours or styles, in upper or lower case letters, or in different sizes. You could create your word picture using a graphic design programme as I have here.
*Design an hour glass or sand timer in different colours.
*Draw clock faces or cut them out of sheets of card or paper in different colours. Then decorate them with patterns or illustrate them with symbols of day and night, like sun or stars. You could draw or cut out 4 or 5 clocks each with the clock hands drawn at different times of day, and illustrate each with pictures of what you connect with that time of day.
*Follow the day’s progress by noticing how the shadow cast by a tree or bush changes angle as the Earth turns and the sun moves across the sky, or how the sun shines into the house at different angles.
*Try planting some vegetable seeds, or some tree seeds (an acorn maybe, or a conker) in a container on a warm windowsill indoors. Notice how long they take to germinate and begin to grow.
*Look at a twig and count the girdle scars along the twig across its width to work out the age of the twig – each scar marks a year as it is the site of a year’s main bud.
*On a walk, in the garden or through an open window, be quiet for one minute or for five minutes and see how many sounds you can hear. I have just done this and heard rooks cawing, the wind gusting through bare trees, and a clock ticking!
COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW 2-15 November 2020
The third theme for Medley’s Creative Ideas is COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW. As the days and nights become colder and darker, I know I like to see some bright colours as a counterbalance. And a rainbow is a sign of hope. Would you like to share how you get on with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002? Thank you!
Colour’s so important that many song titles or pieces of music feature different colours, as do one or two musicians’ names! Search and listen, or try playing along, or clapping or dancing. Sing along to the songs, or listen while you try one of the art or nature activities.
*Somewhere Over The Rainbow Judy Garland
*The Rainbow Song (“Red and yellow and pink…I can sing a rainbow”)
*Mr Blue Sky ELO
*Blue Suede Shoes Elvis Presley
*Rhapsody In Blue George Gershwin
*The Green, Green Grass of Home
*Greensleeves Henry VIII (attributed)
*Yellow Submarine The Beatles
*Any Dream Will Do (Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) Lloyd Webber
*Any song by Pink or by Simply Red
*Try drawing with a black pen on different colour papers. Or cut out silhouettes or shapes in bright colour papers and display them on a black sheet.
*Draw a scene or an object (maybe the view from your window, a plant or a chair or ornament) in pencil or black pen, and then try painting the scene or object in colour. Compare the two, see how the pencil or pen drawing needs shading to create the impression of 3D.
*Draw some outlines of balloons or even hot air balloons and decorate them with different colours and patterns.
*Let your imagination fly – paint trees and other plants in colours you would never see in nature!
*Attach some ribbons or long pieces of fabric in different colours to each other at one end and weave them together to make colourful garlands or scarves.
*Look at a colour wheel and experiment with painting in complementary colours or in primary or secondary colours.
*Paint what you see when you look through a kaleidoscope.
*Either go for a colour walk or look at the colours in the garden or use your imagination to think what colours you might still see at this time of year. Even now you could see many different shades of colour.
*Think of one colour and list as many examples of that colour in nature as you can think of, for example for white, a swan or a daisy, or for turquoise, a dragonfly or a kingfisher.
*Plant some later spring bulbs in as many different shades of colour as you can find
*Imagine planting a colour-themed garden bed or windowbox. It might feature plants all of one colour, or in two contrasting colours, or in all colours of the rainbow, or else vegetables grown as much for their colours as for eating.
TREES AND LEAVES 19 Oct-1 November
The second theme for Medley’s Creative Ideas is Trees And Leaves, as leaves tint and fall and trees grow barer.
Trees become so familiar that maybe this is an opportunity to look at them differently.
Search and listen. You might like to sing along to the songs, or clap or mark time. You could listen to the songs and music while looking at a tree or some leaves, either through a window or outside. Or listen while you try one of the art activities. If you play a musical instrument yourself then you might like to find the sheet music and play, or improvise your own version to the music.
Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin, the “King” of Ragtime
Autumn Leaves Nat King Cole or Eva Cassidy
Blowing In The Wind Bob Dylan
Falling Leaves of Autumn Debbie Wiseman
- Try drawing outline leaf shapes for different tree species: maybe the large leaves of a sycamore or the narrow leaflets of rowan.
- You could use these outline shapes to make your own leaf stencils from card. Then paint in the stencils, either in traditional autumn leaf colours or else use your imagination and paint fantasy leaves in any colour of the rainbow. Use them to make a mural. Or draw a tree and then place your different leaf shapes on the branches to make a fantasy tree.
- You could also use your leaf shapes to make leaf chains, or cut them out of tissue paper to make a leaf mobile to sway in a breeze.
- Experiment with a themed painting on one tree species: paint or draw the tree’s silhouette shape, a twig, a leaf, the tree’s fruit or seeds (like an acorn) and any flowers or blossom (like a catkin).
- Make a leaf rubbing by laying a piece of paper over a leaf (veins uppermost) and rubbing a crayon over the paper so the leaf’s shape and form are seen. Or try a bark rubbing: hold a piece of paper against a tree trunk and rub over it with a crayon to reproduce the bark’s pattern on the paper.
- Look how colourful autumn leaves stand out against a bright, cloudless sky, but also how they lighten even an overcast day.
- Listen to all the sounds: how the wind whispers or roars through different kinds of tree; how fallen leaves stir, rustle or shiver in the breeze; and how rain patters more loudly onto leaves when they first fall but then silently as they become sodden underfoot.
- See how some trees become bare before others, look out for the last leaves to fall and how they stand out when they are the last leaves left in a hedge.
- As leaves fall and trees become bare, notice what different shapes tree silhouettes of different species have. Notice ivy growing on the tree trunks or amidst a bare hedge, which you might have overlooked before. And notice different bark colours and patterns, like a silver birch’s white bark.
SPACE 4-18 October
The first theme is Space, to mark World Space Week which runs from 4-10 October.
Space conjures up freedom to explore, new perspectives. It is elemental, exciting, awesome.
Search and listen. If you play a musical instrument, you might like to play the pieces or songs yourself, or improvise to the music. You could sing along. You might like to listen, play or sing as you look at the night sky, through the window maybe or in your garden (quietly!)
The Planets (Gustav Holst)
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles, later cover by Elton John)
Sing To The Moon (Laura Mvula)
Star Wars film scores (John Williams)
*Cut star shapes out of colourful paper and display on black paper or cloth
*Try making a solar system or space mobile, with planet, star, sun and moon shapes. You could use papers in different colours or in gold and silver. Make holes in the top of each shape to tie string or ribbon through, and tie them somewhere where they will turn in a draft and catch the light.
*Cut star shapes out of felt or other material and embroider them or paint or draw patterns on them with fabric paint or marker pens.
*Experiment by painting the night sky in different media – acrylics for a bold, striking painting, or watercolours for misty atmosphere.
*Try a detailed pen or pencil drawing of the solar system, labelling the planets.
*Make a word picture on a space theme. With colour pens or pencils, write down words which come to mind when you think of outer space, like planet, meteorite or astronaut.
*Try photographing the night sky.
Spend time looking at the night sky. Compare the impenetrable darkness of an overcast night with the bright clarity of moonlight.
Look at the shadows and reflections cast by moonlight.
See how moonlight filters through a tree’s leaves or bare branches.
Look at the moon on a misty night, when hazy clouds half-obscure it or pattern the sky.
Over a month, follow the moon’s cycle.
This year’s World Space Week focuses on satellites. These can actually be seen more easily with the naked eye than with a telescope: look out when dusk falls.