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Master How to Conduct a Soundwalk for All Ages in 3 Simple Steps

A soundwalk is an immersive experience where we focus our hearing on the sounds around us. It’s a relaxing and educational activity that allows you to connect to your surroundings and can be done solo or in groups. Sound walking requires two essential actions: walking and listening with intention and attention. In this blog post, I’ll guide you on how to conduct a soundwalk; whether you’re a beginner or a soundwalker enthusiast, this guide is for all ages.

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1. Planning Your Soundwalk

  1. Determine the type of soundwalk to take: There are many, so here’s a refresher on the types of soundwalks
  2. Determine a purpose: To feel relaxed, to enter a meditative state, to engage with a community, to raise noise awareness, to share a sound journey with your kids, to explore a new place in your travels, etc. You get the point; purpose is vital.
  3. Selecting a Location: Purpose and location go together; choose a site that offers a rich auditory experience for your purpose. When selecting a location, consider diverse settings and soundscapes, from the soothing sounds of nature to the vibrant urban symphony or even the architectural acoustics of a city. A soundwalk could be an opportunity to escape the cacophony of daily life and immerse in a rich auditory tapestry of the world around you. Tailor the choice to the group’s preferences, providing a captivating aural experience.
  4. Determining the Route and Duration: Plan the route of your soundwalk, considering the desired duration and the features of the chosen location. A well-thought-out path ensures a structured and enjoyable sound walking experience.
  5. Determine the tools: Using tools is optional. Here are some ideas for tools you could use during a soundwalk:
    • Pen or pencil and a notebook
    • Mobile phone for accessing GPS and maps
    • Mobile apps for bird identification
    • Mobile apps for plant identification
    • Field recording gear
    • Special microphones like hydrophones, contact mics or parabolic microphones
    • Sound level meter
planning sound walk setting up field recorder
Field recording setup in a soundwalk. Photo By Maria Cecilia Saba

2. Conducting Your Soundwalk

You should briefly introduce where you’ll be walking and take a few minutes to answer a few questions. If it’s a silent walk, let the participants walk silently and put the phones in silent mode.

2.1. Beginning the Soundwalk

Commence by setting the right atmosphere and explaining the purpose of the activity. Encourage participants to concentrate on the soundscape they hear.

2.2. Guiding the Walk

Guide the participants throughout the soundwalk, offering insights into the sounds they may encounter and encouraging mindfulness and focused listening. Prompt them to reflect on the subtleties of each sound experienced, fostering a deeper connection with their auditory environment.

Mapping out areas is key for a better experience.

2.3. Encouraging Reflection

Walk slowly and stop in areas that may call your attention. Don’t rush, listen!

Listen to the closest sound to you, like your footsteps and your breath, and listen for the sound furthest away from you. Try to listen to the sounds between the closest and most distant sounds in all directions. Stop, close your eyes, and guide yourself by sound, not sight.

Enjoy the intricate sounds around you!

Continue to walk and stop as you practice this.

3. Post-Walk Engagement

After the soundwalk, create a space for participants to reflect on their experiences. Pose open-ended questions like “How does this sound make you feel?” to stimulate contemplation and enrich their auditory understanding.

Facilitate discussions about the sounds encountered and their impact. Encourage participants to share their experiences, interpretations, and emotions evoked by the auditory journey.

Recommended read about this topic by pioneer soundwalker Hildegard Westerkamp.

Steps for Conducting a Soundwalk for Kids

soundwalk for kids
Photo by James Wheeler

When leading a soundwalk for kids, briefly introduce where you’ll be walking and encourage them to walk quietly so they can focus on the sounds around them. Use age-appropriate language to explain the purpose of the walk and get them excited for the adventure ahead!

Soundwalks for kids are a great way to spark their curiosity and imagination while also finding joy in the natural environment. It’s all about exploring big feelings and experiencing the world around them through sound. To make the experience even more engaging, selecting a location that kids can easily connect with is important. Parks with diverse wildlife can be fun and adventurous, or playgrounds with tunnels and other reflecting spaces can make kids eager for more.

Consider the attention span and energy levels of the age group involved. A shorter walk of 10 to 15 minutes would work well for your little ones, keeping them engaged and excited.

1. Beginning the Soundwalk with an Engaging Introduction for Kids

Using a checklist and starting with a simple and engaging introduction to help kids connect to the concept of a soundwalk. Use age-appropriate language and visuals to explain the purpose of the walk, emphasizing on finding joy when listening to the soothing sounds around them.

To make it more exciting, frame it as a sound explorer adventure or do a scavenger hunt for hidden sound signals and bird songs using apps to identify bird calls.

Another exciting idea is to incorporate a field recording listening walk and let participants hear an amplified aural reality through mics and headphones.

If you can’t go outdoors, I recommend this video resource from Twkl SEND.

2. Guiding the Walk for Kids

Guiding a sound walk for children involves interactive engagement. Pose questions like “Can you imitate the sound of a bird using your voice?”. Allow them to be sound discoverers, exploring and identifying the ambient sounds they hear. This interaction can transform the experience into an exciting auditory game for children.

3. Post-Walk Reflection Activities for Kids

Kids connect with their surroundings through sound, promoting mental health and creativity. After the walk, encourage them to share their experiences and reflect on what they heard and how it made them feel. Foster their creativity by suggesting they can draw, colour, or use their voice to represent any other sounds they remember.

Conclusion: How to Conduct a Soundwalk for All Ages

Conducting a soundwalk can be a transformative experience that connects us to the natural environment in a unique way. By embracing our daily soundscape, we can better appreciate the space we’re in. Incorporating sound walks into our daily practice can enhance our well-being and improve mental health in different ways. For me, sound walking and field recording are an important part of my routine, especially in nature. Perceiving these natural sounds through an embodied experience or through recordings has a positive impact on my mental health.

Whether leading a group or embarking on a solo adventure, following the three basic steps outlined in this guide will help you master the art of conducting a soundwalk for all ages. You can only become better as you practice. I recommend finding guided listening events near you. Start planning your soundwalk today and immerse yourself in the beautiful symphony of the natural world! Let yourself flow into the journey!

Disclaimer: The contents of this website, such as text, videos, images, and other material, are for informational purposes only. I am not a mental health professional. The content I share is based on personal experience and research, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on my website.

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