Main Menu

Explore More

District Menu

Santa Rita Elementary Students Create Light Paintings Using Music, P.E.

Santa Rita Elementary Students Create Light Paintings Using Music, P.E.

Two teachers at Santa Rita Elementary are taking a more physical approach in celebrating Music in Our Schools Month. Santa Rita music teacher, Jonathan Ochoa, and Santa Rita P.E. teacher, Patrick McGee, have joined forces and combined their music and P.E. classes to orchestrate student-created light paintings.

“In this first-time exploration and early attempts of Light Painting to Music, we anticipate much to be developed, including best camera settings,” said Mr. Ochoa. “Since yesterday, we’ve already explored differences between Choreographed Light Show versus Light Painting to Music, painting in complete darkness versus painting over the class photo, painting solo versus as a team, and various painting techniques like sliding the lights on the floor.”

These digital works of art are created by using long-exposure photography, the method photographers use to capture time-lapse photos of the nighttime sky. The process is also known as slow-shutter photography. Long-exposure photos are taken by keeping the camera shutter open for a longer period of time, allowing for that entire period of time to be photographed rather than a brief instance. This allows for trails of light to be recorded.

Combine Mr. Ochoa, Mr. McGee, students, music, different-colored lights and long-exposure photography and you have a recipe for Santa Rita’s first light paintings. Approximately 380 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, have been participating in the light painting activities. Seated on the gymnasium floor, students held either red, white or blue lights while Mr. McGee held a single, green light. As “Carol of the Bells” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra started to play from the speaker, Mr. Ochoa instructed specific color groups to wave their lights in circles. He explained how to make larger, more prominent circles by repeating the same motion in the same place. 

“It’s easier for people to see and it’s more entertaining for people to see coming alive,” Mr. Ochoa said, speaking to students. As the music intensified, Mr. Ochoa instructed students to stand up and make bigger movements while Mr. McGee walked back and forth behind the students waving a green light. The entire time, Mr. Ochoa’s smartphone has been capturing the process.      

“They love playing with the lights in the dark and dancing to the music, and they are astonished upon the reveal of their product,” said Mr. Ochoa. Working as a team, increasing interest in musical artistry and employing a growth mindset are some takeaways Mr. Ochoa said he would like students to gain from the experience. “The goal…is to have fun being musical, artistic and physical,” he said.                          

San Angelo ISD celebrates all the ways our students are smart and the methods our educators use to cultivate their individual smartness. Follow the San Angelo ISD Facebook, Twitter, and website,, to stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD.