all ears

Outdoor, scientific and personal investigations into the vast world of sound.

Wednesdays, 10am - 3pm | Ages 9 - 15 | April - June 2016

In All Ears we explored a sometimes taken-for-granted but vitally important sense: our hearing.  We learned about how listening stimulates more parts of the brain than any other function, and is crucial in mental, physical, and communication development.

We spent time contemplating the experimental, scientific, personal and creative sonic worlds of Kites Nest, our homes, and various outdoor environments. We opened our ears to what we notice when we listen to nature, instead of just looking at it. Together we experienced how our perception of where we are expands and changes when we listen and take notice of the sounds of our daily lives.

Recording sounds at a nature preserve in Catskill and both above and below water at the Hudson River, we began to investigate how sound is used as an emerging method to monitor global warming and environmental changes. Sound is crucial in the animal world and we gave reports on how animals listen and communicate with sound such as: bats utilizing echolocation, whale vocalizations, elephant low-frequency communication, giraffe humming, and various bird calls.

We experienced and studied acoustic properties, exploring how the architecture of a space can modify sound and create sound phenomena like reverb, echo and deadening in completely silent anechoic chambers. We learned how our hearing really works, and which parts of the brain we use when we’re listening. We visualized sound by drawing sound waves as we heard them, watching cornstarch dance on a speaker playing low-frequency sounds, and running a bow across a metal plate covered in salt to form beautiful geometric patterns.

We don’t often think of how we physically feel sound unless we’re at a loud concert, but we got to feel the vibrations of sound through vibrational instruments like singing bowls and gongs which are used for sound healing. We experienced how sound can provide a soothing quality and help us open our minds by providing clarity.

We also learned about how to protect our hearing through ear plugs, ear muffs, and being considerate of avoiding overly loud spaces if we can, because our hearing is so important that we don’t want to lose it!

A course with Lavender Suarez and Nicole LoBue.