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Little ears, big listenings

Who said that the ears of child are not suited to the frequencies of experimentation? Certainly not Raymond Murray Schafer, the famous Canadian composer and theorist who began his pedagogical activity with children in the 1960s. It was in that period that Schafer developed his teaching method - Creative Music Education - explained in five booklets which appeared between 1964 and 1975 and then condensed into the homonymous tome, re-edited in 1986 with the title of Thinking Ear.

The ultimate goal of the exercises collected in Schafer's pages - where curiosity plays a central role - is to "encourage student creativity and training heightened listening", to discover whatever creative potential each learner has for making music, and to train learners to pay attention to the sounds around them [Follow this link to read more].

In a rather casual way, L'Impero della Luce began to offer its Electric Forests also to children starting from the summer of 2021, but it was only in 2022 that the proposal turned into a real path parallel to that of adults – Electric Bonsai Forests – exclusively aimed at the smallest ears.

After the pilot excursions to the Alzaia Tunnel (Treviso, IT, June 2022) and Topolò Festival (Topolò, IT, July 2022) the Electric Forests land in the ear pavilions of girls and boys of Mantua, thanks to the invitation of the Segni New Generation Festival which, through the artistic and cultural association Segni d'Infanzia, since 2008 creates and implements projects aimed at boys and girls, making use of the collaboration of national and international professionals and artists. At the invitation of Monica Colella – farsighted curator of a new special project in Segni, already in charge of the Rumur festival projects – L'Impero della Luce has shaped a listening path dedicated to children, to discover the secret sound of electricity of urban networks.

How do Electric Bonsai Forests works?

Over the course of an afternoon, we alternate several listening sessions, organizing the children into shifts of one hour each. Each shift can welcome a maximum of 5 children aged 5 and over, all accompanied by an adult and equipped with their own headphones / earphones equipped with a mini-jack connector cable.

Let's take off a few pebbles from our shoes right now: here we go with the most frequently asked questions [and our answers are always the same]:

No, it is not possible to form groups with more than 5 children 🙂

No, it is not possible to accommodate an entire class in one shift – unless the class is made up of only 5 children 🙃

[In the case of whole classes, other activities aimed at understanding and enhancing listening to the natural soundscape can be organized during the waits]

After doing a few small exercises in listening to the soundscape around us, having given a name to things and saying a few words about what we like to hear, the children are ready to put on the earphones: with the guidance of L'Impero della Luce – under the supervision of accompanying adults – and equipped with Ether devices that we will provide, girls and boys will begin the sound exploration of the urban electric environment.

Following our instructions, they will identify the best listening points with the help of their parents/carers: they will thus listen to the secret electric sounds of traffic lights, street lamps, car lights, alarms... An unforgettable experience that will help them understand and intuit the invisible world of sound, listening, silence, electric current and radio signals in a simple and fun way.

To find out more, we invite you to read the related "Electric Forests" post published in this blog, the description of Electric Forests on this website and follow the organization of upcoming events on Instagram @Imperodellaluce #LIDLelectricforests.

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