Backyard Nature Activities: Nature’s Symphony

This activity is taught in Hike NS’s Re-Connecting with Nature workshop offered each year in locations throughout the province. This is a one-day, hands-on workshop for adults held mostly outdoors to improve your ability to lead and share an appreciation and understanding of nature with children and youth. We plan to have a schedule available in late June for workshops hopefully scheduled in the fall, if possible.

Nature’s Symphony

Synopsis: Everyone sneaks into the back row of a natural concert hall and listens in silence for several minutes to the symphony of sounds.

Set-up (there are no props!): The only trick is to find the right place to do it. It is nicest to pick the side of a hill so that it feels a bit like the upper rows of a concert hall with the stage down below. When you are scouting, listen for the types of sounds – you want to pick a spot that minimizes human sounds and maximizes nature sounds. It is great to be near water.

Activity

1. Lead in: Just a touch before the previous activity is winding down, interrupt and wonder about the time, and ask someone who has a watch for it. Be shocked how late it is, point out that you had arranged a concert for ten minutes from now at this incredible concert hall. Explain that the concert will give you the opportunity to meet a number of the inhabitants around here that you do not usually get to see, but everyone has to work on their listening skills to take advantage of this chance. Quickly explain that the group will obviously be late, but that if they are quick and quiet, you think they can still sneak in the back rows. 

2. Move to Concert Hall: Adopt a hushed urgent tone (this is critical to the magic) and lead the way single file to your pre-selected concert hall. You want the distance from the end of the last activity into the concert hall to be short but significant, maybe 10-15 metres, but it depends on the lay of the land. You want it long enough to give people the chance to make a transition to the new activity in hushed tones, but you don’t want to give them time to think or talk.

3. Seat Group in Hall: Stand at the entrance to the hall and point/usher the participants to the seats. Make sure they are all huddled together in a group, just about touching each other, all facing the stage. After they are seated, sit yourself on the end of the first row.

4. Focus Group on Listening: Point out that you all seem to be just in time, thank them for being quick and quiet. Ask them to hit their ears to get the “cobwebs” out. Point out that this is very subtle but beautiful music and they will have to listen intently. They could picture their ears growing like elephant ears. Ask them to try to avoid naming the sounds, but rather ask them to listen to the pure sound and represent it as a tone in their minds if they need to.

5. Dim Lights, Start Concert: Point out that when the concert starts, the lights will be dimmed – they need to shut their eyes. Point out the concert will be several minutes long. Then start the silence (if you can talk and also listen to the woods at the same time, it is neat if you can listen for a proper time to start (maybe the wind is picking up).

6. Create Ending: Listen for around 4 to 5 minutes though the length depends on the group. It is helpful to quit a bit after you get your first inclination to quit but it is up to you. End the silence by commenting on how beautiful the concert was and start a round of applause.

7. Sharing of What Was Heard: Ask people what sounds they heard and what was neat. Share some of what you heard. Discuss.

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