Last Saturday I spent the day enjoying some activities in Toronto that were part of Jane’s Walk (http://www.janeswalk.net/). A friend had reminded me about the event and I discovered two walks that I thought might give me a new perspective on my city. In the morning was the Art and the City Tour, followed later in the day by Cityscape/Soundscape: Exploring our Sonic Environment. Naturally I thought these walks would present a great opportunity to find unusual ideas for sharing art experiences with young children. Indeed there are many works of art around us that can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone (and for free!). As we wandered along streets and through parks and buildings my attention was drawn to different images, shapes, colours and spaces. I also found that my senses could be engaged in my city in new ways. I often tune out the sounds around me, but last weekend I was inspired to listen in a different way. For a day I gave myself permission to perceive Toronto through the eyes and ears of a child and it was a wonderful experience.
Images of Toronto: Faces, Spaces and Places
Here is a small glimpse of what I saw while exploring art in the city!
Toronto: Sounds Amazing
Melissa Wong and Erin Scheffer led our group on a different kind of tour of Toronto. We gathered at the Music Garden, where they shared their knowledge of the ideas of R. Murray Schafer to raise our awareness of soundscapes – the various sounds in our
environment and how we are impacted by those sounds (http://www.david-howes.com/senses/sensing-the-city-lecture-RMurraySchafer.htm). We were given blindfolds, and paired off. Partners took turns leading each other around the city. Our job was to notice sounds such as birds, traffic, footfalls, airplanes, buskers and people talking (to name a few). Of interest was how the quality of sound changed in the open air, beneath overpasses, under scaffolding and inside buildings. I thought that this kind of experience would be great to share with young children, to help them attend to and identify sounds (e.g., bird, footstep, music, vehicle), to describe the quality of sounds (e.g., loud or soft, near or far away) and to consider how these sounds make us feel (e.g., calm, anxious, happy, annoyed). I might add that it was very challenging to navigate the streets and sounds of Toronto relying on senses other than sight. Discussing this with children might aid them in understanding different ways that people experience the world, and in feeling empathy for others.
Here are a few YouTube videos that capture many of the sounds that are part of our environment, provide some interesting thoughts on the role of these sounds in our lives, and help us to understand the idea of the soundscape.
I hope that next time you are wandering through your city, alone or with children, that it is with new eyes and ears!