Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, History–Social Science, Music
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
Five to six 50-minute class periods, plus independent work
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Performing Arts in Art

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Glossary (RTF, 255KB)
Print and Web Resources (RTF, 247KB)
National and California State Standards (PDF, 827KB)

Lesson Overview

Students will discuss the form, function, and decoration of an ancient Greek wine cup. They will learn about the importance of music in the daily life of ancient Greeks. They will discuss a page from a late-medieval choir book and compare and contrast the role of music in antiquity, the Renaissance, and today. They will create cups for a social gathering inspired by ancient Greek symposia, and create and perform a song, poem, or story.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• understand how music played a key role in the daily life of ancient Greeks.
• analyze the form and function of an ancient Greek wine cup.
• discuss a late-medieval manuscript page.
• compare the roles of music in ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and today.
• design and create cups inspired by red-figure kylikes used for symposia.
• create and perform a song, poem, or story about ancient Greek education, music, or art.


• Reproductions of interior and exterior views of Wine Cup with a Boy Holding a Lyre by Douris, painter, and Python, potter
• Reproduction of Initial R: The Resurrection by Antonio da Monza
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about the wine cup and manuscript page
• Student Handout: "Ancient Greek Symposia"
• Audio recordings of reconstructions of ancient Greek music, such as Music of the Ancient Greeks by Ensemble De Organographia (Pandourion, 1997) or the "Ancient Melodies" section of Music of Greece: The Past Is Present on ARTSEDGE
• Student Handout: "Music in Ancient Greece"
• Student Handout: "Assignments for a Symposium"
• Materials for making musical instruments (see "Assignments for a Symposium" handout) (optional)
• Internet access
Video: "Making Greek Vases" in the "Multimedia" list on the Getty website
• Paper and pencils
• White, uncoated paper bowls
• Thick and thin black markers and black pens
• Materials for creating the handles and stem for wine cups, such as poster board and paper towel rolls
• Glue or tape

Lesson Steps

Download the complete lesson by clicking on the "Download this lesson" icon above.

Glossary Terms:
Words in bold on these pages and in the lesson are defined in the glossary for this curriculum (see "Performing Arts in Art Contents" links above).

Wine Cup / Python
Wine Cup with a Boy Holding a Lyre, Douris, painter, and Python, potter, about 480 B.C.

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 6–8

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Text Types and Purposes
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6

2.0 Creative Expression
2.4 Create increasingly complex original works of art reflecting personal choices and increased technical skill.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 View selected works of art from a culture and describe how they have changed or not changed in theme and content over a period of time.
3.3 Compare, in oral or written form, representative images or designs from at least two selected cultures.

Grade 7
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Compare and contrast works of art from various periods, styles, and cultures and explain how those works reflect the society in which they were made.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.2 Analyze the form (how a work of art looks) and content (what a work of art communicates) of works of art.

Grade 8
2.0 Creative Expression
2.6 Design and create both additive and subtractive sculptures.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.3 Construct an interpretation of a work of art based on the form and content of the work.

Music Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6

2.0 Creative Expression
2.6 Improvise simple melodies.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Listen to and describe the role of music in ancient civilizations (e.g., Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Roman).

Grade 7
2.0 Creative Expression
2.6 Improvise melodies and harmonic accompaniments.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Compare music from various cultures as to some of the functions music serves and the roles of musicians.

Grade 8
2.0 Creative Expression
2.7 Improvise short melodies to be performed with and without accompaniment.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Compare and contrast the functions music serves and the place of musicians in society in various cultures.
3.3 Explain how music has reflected social functions and changing ideas and values.

History–Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6

6.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Ancient Greece.
8. Describe the enduring contributions of important Greek figures in the arts and sciences (e.g., Hypatia, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Thucydides).