Outside Listening Assignment

One of the assignments I gave my students in the Spring of 2020 was to go outside and listen to the ambient sound of the world around them, then reflect in writing about the sounds and the “music” they heard. Often, this sort of exercise is reserved for more advanced students when they are first exposed to modernist composers like Charles Ives, but I was delighted by the depth and insight of many of the responses.

The questions for the assignment were:

  1. What did you do while you were outside?
  2. List at least 5 different sounds that you heard during your time outside.
  3. Which sound(s) did you like the most? Why?
  4. Which sound(s) did you like the least? Why?
  5. After your listening experience, how did you feel?
  6. Explain why you responded to the previous question the way you did. Why did you feel more calm, about the same level of calm, or less calm after the experience?
  7. What happened during the experience to make you feel that way.
  8. Did you like this experience? Why or why not?