Practical Applications For Educationalists And Workshop Leaders

For the Youngest Listeners

Take the group outside to their play area and ask them to walk around and try to hear a sound they have never heard before. Ask each child to describe this sound to their friends
Have a ticking clock hidden somewhere in the classroom before the group returns – who can find it first?

The Unison Clap

One person in the group and claps continuously at a comfortable pace. The person next to them begins clapping at exactly the same time and with exactly the same timbre. Once two people have achieved a perfect unison, a third person joins. Continue adding people for as long as feasible.

Rhythm Circle

This exercise, inspired by Pauline Oliveros is wonderful for achieving group cohesion in an educational or workshop context.

Standing in a circle, each person in the group listens for their own heartbeat. When they have detected it, they begin clapping extremely quietly in time with their heartbeat. Gradually increasing the volume of their clapping, each person listens to the composite rhythm created by all of the individual heartbeats of the group

From this composite rhythm, the group gradually coalesces around one tempo. This process happens automatically, and the group will probably arrive at a pulse of around 60 beats per minute. Once this is established the group walks on the spot at 60bpm and stops clapping, maintaining the pulse with their feet.

Keeping the pulse with the feet, a hand clap at this tempo is then passed around the circle, each person being responsible for one clap. Maintaining 60bpm with the feet then next stage is to send a clap around the circle twice as fast (i.e.120bpm) and even twice as fast again (i.e.240bpm) if the group is up for the challenge!

Deep listening kicks in at the next stage: pass the hand clap around the circle at 60, 120 and 240bpm with EYES SHUT

Field Recording/editing: distilling the sounds of your environment

This is an extremely useful tool for developing the sensitivity of the ear.

Using a mobile phone, or dedicated recording device record the most interesting sounds in your environment for 5 minutes.

Select the most interesting 60 seconds from any point or points within these 5 minutes of material. Use a simple audio editing app to sift through this material and then edit together a new 60 second recording

Select the most interesting 12 seconds from any point or points in these 60 seconds of material. Use this material to edit together a new 12 second recording

Select the most interesting 3 seconds from this 12 seconds of material. Use this material to edit together a final 3 second recording.

Echolocation Game

A volunteer from the group wears a blindfold. They are guided on a predetermined path throughout the room by sound. The sounds could be created by clapping, singing, speaking or with musical instruments. At first this game works best if the volunteer walks towards a single predetermined sound that leads the way. The game can become gradually more complex as more and more sounds are added.

Sound Spelling

8 Volunteers stand, forming the outline of a square around the rest of the group, who are seated in the middle of the room with their eyes closed. One further volunteer stands in the middle of the central seated group.

A “conductor” spells a word by describing the outline of individual letters by pointing at the standing volunteers who clap when cued. (For example, to form the letter L the conductor would point to the person standing in the top left corner of the square, and work round to the person standing in the bottom right corner off the square. The letter V would be top left, bottom middle, top right etc.) The group aim to guess the mystery word. Words like LOVE and CAT work well to begin with! Begin at a slow rate, gradually increasing the tempo as the group’s echolocation and visualisation skills develop.