A Place of Sounds
My lesson aims to inform students about recording and documenting the world around them with audio. The idea is founded around documenting the Yup’ik culture – west coast Alaskans with cultural heritage and language that has eroded over many generations.
I aim to present a resource for teaching students about the history of field recording, the genesis of the World Soundscape Project and its offshoot organizations, alongside a foundational focus on using audio to preserve culture.
This lesson would be appropriate for middle schoolers or high schoolers – and the depth of the resulting recording project would fit the age of the students. I am assuming it would take at least a week to introduce the material and share relevant projects – but it could really be a long term study supplemented with materials relevant to the local area. Furthermore, recording and editing practice could be included to add many weeks of learning and hands-on creativity for a technology focused music classroom.
I feel the big question I want to ask are what sounds, stories, songs, etc. can we preserve through recording? The words spoken are often as important as the place they are spoken. There are sonic artifacts – or keystones – in our communities. These are the sounds of the sea, the wind, the voice of an elder, and so much more.
I have found several student made documentaries from the Lower Kuskokwim School District on YouTube, like this one on the Responsibility of Culture – I am hoping to include one or two as external or internal materials (pending permission!).
I have other videos resources that show the intrigue of recording things in nature, like this blog post on the Soundscape Explorations Blog documenting aRaven‘s sounds.
I want to pose essential questions that can be used as inspirations for projects. E.g. What are sounds around you that are apart of your culture you would want to preserve and share with others? What sounds define a place for you? What sounds are a person? How do different people tell the same story? How do different people say the alphabet?
The student project would involve going out and recording these sounds. I am also considering the possibilities for them making something like a sound walk (where you follow a map and listen to recorded or ambient sounds) or a documentary style project where they share audio clips on Soundcloud or YouTube of stories, people, nature, places, etc.