Soundscapes ask students to think about and create the multiple sounds that may be heard in a specific location or event in time. In this strategy, students explore how to use vocal variety, rhythm, and repetition individually and collectively.
Invite students to name/describe sounds they might hear in a specific context. What are sounds you might hear in the rainforest? Writes students’ ideas on the board for the group to see and reference. Once the group has brainstormed a number of ideas, ask for volunteers to vocally perform different sounds, ideally with similar sounds being seated together. Share and practice conducting hand signals to crescendo (get louder), decrescendo (get softer) and cut off (stop) all sound. Build a soundscape, inviting students to follow hand directions for: The Rainforest. Reflect on what students noticed about their work. Consider how different vocal and musical choices community a specific tone or quality to the listener; invite the group to describe the quality of the soundscape they produced. Choose another location. Repeat the same directed procedure as before, or invite the group to spontaneously create the soundscape, without pre-listing sounds or pre-determining parts.
- What types of sounds did we use to establish a location?
- Why were these the sounds that we picked? How did they help to evoke a sense of place?
- Where else might you hear these same kinds of sounds? Why?
- Draw on your past experiences and memories or imagine what this place might sound like.
- Listen to the group; add new sounds or shift your sound to explore all possible aspects of place.
- Have students select the location or take on the role of the conductor.
- Make a dreamscape. Explore a character’s inner thoughts or fears by creating a dream montage of sound that illuminate the inner feelings or struggle of a character or group of people dealing with a difficult decision or problem.
- Reading/Writing and Social Studies: Explore themes from a story or sounds from an event in history. With this variation it may be useful to use a phrase of spoken text as well as a sound.
- SCIENCE: Explore ways to embody and vocally create a cycle in nature (water cycle, life cycle of a butterfly, etc.) or a specific type of ecosystem, place, or season.
Imani Gonzales, Rachel Gartside