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Why is it important to teach Sounds and Soundscapes?

When we close our eyes and start listening the world shows itself to us as it is. It invites us to discover this world with our ears – and, most important, to articulate what we hear with words. Like that, we build a vocabulary of the soundscape – of what’s going on right here, right now. You don´t have to be good at maths, languages or sports. You just have to listen.

Why is this important?

We are brought up in a very visual world with things and events we can explain with words. But when it comes to explaining what we hear, we sometimes lack the words.

We can hear around corners, through walls, down the stairs, small sound details up close or sounds kilometers away through a dense forest or a big city.

Listening to the everyday soundscape* is a superpower that invites us to start all over again, no matter who we are. It is not about “I like this” or “I don’t like that” on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. It is about exploring, explaining, and learning – with our ears.

Sound QUIZ/ LISTENING EXERCISE

Listening to the soundscape is about asking the right questions. Not giving the right answers. The aim is to make the students build a vocabulary.

A listening exercise could look like this:

Teacher: “Please, close your eyes and listen”

Teacher plays an audio recording of a soundscape (for example a road near a forest)

  • What do you hear?
  • Where do you think we are?

Let the students explore the soundscape in their own words and, step by step, build their version of the soundscape together. The more sound details they can add to their sound experience, the bigger their shared vocabulary gets. When they can’t think of more sound details, the teacher reveals the place where the audio recording was made.

During the sound quiz the teacher can ask more detailed questions like: What sounds make you think it has just been raining?  The students’ answers could be: because the birds are singing but the tires on the wheels of the cars driving by sounds wet, like they’re driving over small pools of water on the road. It has stopped raining and the sun is shining, I think.

*A soundscape is a landscape that you ‘see’ with your ears, for example a specific landscape out in the countryside with all its sounds, or a specific bus stop in the city center. Every place has its own specific sound character; a collection of sounds that make up the unique soundscape of this very place at this very moment in time.

 

Author: Ingeborg Okkels, Lydvaerk.dk/ Vesthimmerlands Museum