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I took some students out on a sound walk the other day in the Hudson Valley. It was a wet, chilly spring day and we ventured out into the world, mud and all. Each student was partnered so that they could take turns being blindfolded and guide each other.

To take the sense of sight away can heighten the senses of hearing, feeling, smell and touch. Sound walks don't need to have this feature but I enjoy providing the opportunity for this kind of sonic exploration as it invites a sense of play and childlike wonder that we in our adult selves often don't often engage in. We are busily doing things, getting from here to there, not stopping to listen to the tree limbs, the wind in the leaves, the subtle sound of the wheels of a car on the gravel, our footsteps, birds in flight, an so on. Part of the idea is that we can explore what we think of as inanimate objects that we come across on the walks such as a lamppost, a bench, a fence, etc. When we engage in a kind of sonic improvisational conversation with the objects by touching them to create resonance, playing with ways of engagement, then we realize that things aren't as inanimate as we might think them to be. Everything has a vibration and everything is a potential sonic object that can make music. It's up to us to invite ourselves into the play space of discovery and wonder in the seemingly mundane. The students discovered the beauty of listening to a tree trunk, holding a leaf in their hand to listen to the subtleties of each vein, standing still to listen in all direction to the intricacies of our surrounding soundscape. Partnering in listening in this way invites a kind of dialogue, a safety, and a sense of communion with all. Take some time one day to invite a friend out for a walk. You don't have to be blindfolded. Just notice what seems interesting to you and spend some time discovering the nuances and crevices of sound as you walk together. You may learn something about the way we listen together and how listening is a beautiful key to the interconnectivity of everything.


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