The ‘Dee Dee’ Song: Art Making at Marindale

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by Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper


This spring while making art with the students of the Marindale Special Education preschool, I learned a great deal about how sound, movement, line and color are intricately related, especially in the experience of a preschooler!
Often one of the greatest challenges with working with very young children is that their attention wanders. On multiple occasions, I found myself using sound – tones, simple melodies, a sung version of the child’s name – to bring their attention back to our project. Recognizing the power of sound to gain and focus their attention, I began incorporating music more and more into our art making.
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One day I was working with a young boy who is very vocal and he kept repeating “I’m done now,” after making just a few marks on the canvas. I began tapping a pastel onto the canvas in steady rhythm and sang a simple melody, using the syllable dee. He was immediately transfixed by the song. He joined in by tapping along with a pastel and, when I handed him a paintbrush, he began drawing forms and splotches of color, all the time listening to the song. We went on this way for some time, much longer than I had ever seen him engage in an art project.
When I stopped singing, his movements stopped as well. He looked up at me and said: “I want the dee dee song!”
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