Music in the Forest

I think my pitch sounded something like this: “Hey, Ms. McCready, I want to put in a Research Station proposal for a Jaffa day. They’re looking for cross-curricular use of the Outdoor Education Centre this year. I was thinking it would be cool to perform a folk song among the trees”.  I believe Ms. McCready’s response was “Oh, yeah! And the kids could use the iPads to gather found sounds to make soundscapes.”  SOLD!

I mentioned in my earlier post that our math and music day in the forest was something really novel and organic.  I’m thinking of starting a forest school (I wish!) and I bet Ms. McCready would be on board. PS – Tara is the music teacher extraordinaire at my school.  When walking past her room I often see my students using technology to not only capture their creations but share their learning on various apps and GAFE applications.  Super cool.

The music ‘third’ of the day in the forest included first doing a group performance of Land of the Silver Birch.  We performed in a circle in the middle of the forest, using iPads for lyrics (paper free day!).  We had our Instructional Coach video record the performance.  Now, any good teacher always has a back up plan so we prerecorded the song indoors, just in case the wind noise was too distracting outside.  That turned out to the be the case, so the video merges the outdoor footage with an earlier performance.

The students knew that the video was going to be unique in that their forest found sounds would be sewn into the final music video product.  After Ms. McCready’s instruction the students set off in pairs to capture sounds with the QuickVoice app (thanks for the suggestion Lori!).  They were instructed to take a photo or video of what was making the sound.  Maybe that meant boots in leafs, twigs on logs, or windy trees.  Favourite field recordings would be added to the song.


In addition to the music video, partners created soundscapes of the their sounds and visuals using iMovie.  What is the potential for a piece of media like this?  An analysis of soundtrack as a mood-setting tool?  Background for a future enviro-focused poem?  I can’t wait to pull it into our science unit on sound coming in February!  I think now that the students are experts at collecting and cataloging sounds we might just need to take this found-sound technique to the streets as part of our ongoing community-learning focus.  What does a small town sound like?  Sounds fun. That one’s in my back pocket for sure.

Check our our multi-media music video below:

Folk Song Soundscape Video

Give it a try!  Borrow,  beg and steal as many iPads as you can and start collecting.  Thank you Ms. McCready, and thank you Apple.  Another thank you to the Research Station selection committee.  What a cool experience to be a part of.