Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: Evelyn Hoffmann

Mentor: Kimble Humiston

Title: Through My Hands, A Footnote to Life


I chose to create a multidisciplinary project based on the theme of seasonal change.  The musical portion of the project is a cycle of twelve piano songs that reflect time, freedom, and moments spent with friends and family.  I created a cover for the piano compositions based on the Greek statue of Nike and a work by the 20th century artist Wassily Kandinsky entitled Improvisation.  The colors in the cover piece are the visual representation of seasonal change reflected in the cycle of the musical compositions. In an introductory manuscript, I discuss my approach to the project and the influence of Kandinsky's theories on the relationship between music and art.


Kandinsky Paper

Songs (Camaraderie, #9 in Yellow, Circles, Drummers Lullaby, Imaginary Friend, #2 in Yellow, #4 in Yellow, Summers End Part 1, Summers End Part 2, Pictures Painted in Black and White, Moving On, Remember Never Forget, Running Out of Time)

example of text with image.psd 

For my Senior Project I composed twelve songs on the piano, made a book out of all those songs, wrote a paper, recorded a C.D., and designed the cover for the book. When I returned to school in September I realized I had a lot to do. I already had seven songs completed, but I still needed five more songs, I needed to find out where I was going to print my book, record my C.D., write a paper, and design the cover of the book. To say the least I was really stressed out, but meeting with my mentor Kimble Humiston really helped me push all pressure aside. Within our meetings we would discuss what I wanted my product to be. I realized that I wanted the Nike statue on the front of my cover because I have grown up with the Nike, (being at Ross since 5th grade) and to me the Nike represents movement and freedom and that corresponded perfectly to the representation of my songs. But I didn’t want the Nike to be just a regular painting or drawing; I wanted it to be unique and full of color. Then I realized that I wanted to write about Wassily Kandinsky, an artist who was chromothetic, the ability to perceive color through the sounds of music. I realized I was somewhat chromothetic and used that to my advantage. When I write songs I usually write them because a certain emotion I’m feeling, a season I’m in, etc. So when I play the songs I am brought back to those moments or that season. In creating my songs I would sit down at the piano and first just fool around with different chords, then add the right hand in, and then when I started formulating a song I would write down the notes, and keep playing it over and adding more and more until a song was complete. Realizing had much to do I headed to the tech lab to download the Sibelius program onto my laptop.  Sibelius is a program where you can digitally notate songs; all you have to do it plug in a cord running through your laptop into an electric keyboard. You open the program write the name of the songs, name of the composer, what time signature it is, and what clef the song it located in. This all sounded very easy, but Sibelius ended up being the more rigorous, painstaking, and infuriating experience. I say this because the first time I used Sibelius 4, and it wouldn’t let me save any of my songs, so I up-graded to Sibelius 4.5 which worked for awhile, but soon ended up having problems with me recording my songs. I then had to wait two weeks for Sibelius 5, and in the mean time I would write songs, and met with my outside consultant, Donna Molin who is my piano teacher and helped me put the songs in the correct time signature and clef. After two months of senior project had passed I have all twelve songs notated. Next I needed to create the cover piece and write a paper. I met with Jennifer Cross and discussed my project with her so she could get a feel of what I wanted the cover to resemble. I talked to her about Kandinsky and she pulled out a book of his artwork and I found a painting called “Improvisation”. I immediately knew this would be a part of the cover. So I outlined the image of the Nike, laid it over the Improvisation image and started to paint.  That weekend I finished the painting and wrote the first draft of my paper. When I returned from Thanksgiving break I did four to five revisions on the paper and went back to my notated songs and used white out to erase extra staff bars that would be randomly put into the songs with the Sibelius program. After all the revisions were done I called the Montauk Printing Press to discuss my project and to see if they would be able to help. After discussing with them what my project was they couldn’t have seemed more helpful. So the following week my mentor and I went to the Montauk Printing Press in East Hampton to discuss the details of what I wanted the book to be like. I told them I wanted a clear sheet with my name and title of the book and then have the painting underneath so you could firstly see the image and the title without the title on the actual painting. Then I discussed that I wanted a black binding, and a hard or sturdy back because I was going to be pasting a C.D. in the back of the book. This seemed like no problem so the next day I printed out all my songs, my paper, and a little short essay about the meaning behind all my songs, and put the image of the Nike on a memory stick. Kimble and I headed to the Montauk Printing Press and they set to work. One of my challenges being at the Montauk Printing Press was trying to align the title of the book and my name without it interfering with the artwork itself. It took me a couple of tries, but I finally got it. By the end of the day all twelve books were done. I couldn’t have been happier going to the Montauk Printing Press. They saved me so much time, and allowed me to also make up time for the time I had lost in the beginning with the Sibelius program. The next step was to record the C.D. I met with Sy and he hooked up a microphone setup at the piano in the media building and that weekend I went in and recorded all twelve songs. I recorded the songs into garage band and then transferred them over to itunes. That weekend I also spray painted envelopes gold and pasted them into the back of the book and put the C.D.’s inside. I couldn’t believe that such an incredible learning experience had come to an end. I learned how far I could really push myself within this project, and also how dedicated I was. I will never forget this experience or the Ross School who allowed me to grow physically and mentally. Thank You.

Works Cited or Works Consulted

Artist Rights Society. “Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944.” 2000. Viewed 15 Nov. 2008.


“Wassily Kandinsky.”  Viewed 15 Nov. 2008


“Wassily Kandinsky.” Viewed 15 Nov. 2008.


Ashkenazy, Vladimir. Chopin Favorite Piano Works

Ned Parkhouse. Stillwood, New York: Discmaker, 2008.

Molin, Donna. Lifelong. 2007.

Kandinsky, Vassily. Improvisation. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Brahms Johannes. Brahms masterpieces for solo piano, 38 works Johannes Brahms. Mineoa, N.Y Dover 1998.

Debussy, Claude. Caude Debussy: piano music (1888-1905). New York, N.Y. Diver Publications

Chopin, Frederic. Chopin masterpieces: for soo piano, 46 work/ Frederic Chopin. Mineoa NY, Dover 1998.

Community Member (Details)

Donna Molin was my outside consultant. She has been my piano teacher for seven years but has retired. She helped me put the songs in the right clef and time signature when creating the song on Sibelius.