Multi-Media Nature Scapes:
Note that a proposal for “nature scapes” in-school workshops recently was funded ($12,000) by Frank & Lydia Bergen Foundation for programs in New Jersey, and ($3,000) by Atherton Family Foundation for programs in Maui.)
The primary purpose of our program, “Multi Media Nature Scapes,” is threefold. To impart:
- Truth. Truth presents itself in many ways through art. First, we see things as other humans see them, through the eyes, ears, words and bodies of artists, musicians, authors and dancers. Walt Whitman writes, “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you…” The truth applies for all of us. We can learn from those artists who devote their lives to seeking the truth about nature. Second, nature itself provides basic truths and inspiration for artists. The golden mean, for example, one number describing the ratio of creative force in the universe, this is a basic truth which nature gives to us. Third, rhythm is a channel through which emotions travel. Rhythm gives us truth about our emotions and our humanity. Whether the child immediately comprehends, haltingly tries to follow, or does not then ‘get it’ (they will in the future), truths presented without prescriptions or pre judgements are the essential ingredients for our workshops and daylong residencies.
- Courage. Courage to face the truth must be encouraged in children as soon as possible. Facing the truth brings new levels of understanding. As an example, we learn from the progression, one through seven, to eight, the “octave” concept. Both in color (“red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet, to red) and tone (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti, to do), we can reach octave completion and revival. So also we reach new plateaus in life, new levels of understanding after completing cycles of activity (octaves). Completing cycles may entail shock to our system, both physically and spiritually. The octave – completing the seven notes of the scale and colors of the rainbow – also entails shock as in the music’s tritone interval and nature’s magical rainbow. Octave is an important symbol of completion and ongoing renewal. It must be faced with courage. It is an essential tool for understanding in our workshops. Just as we climb mountains and reach new peaks, so we must face new intellectual and emotional levels as well. Both climbing a mountain and attaining new levels of understanding require courage. When we observe such courage in children during the course of our workshops, it must be enthusiastically encouraged.
- Organization. Organization means placing things in scale, in proportion. This is a lesson that can be taught through the arts. Fractals, the self-replicating shapes that describe, for example, the smallest mollusk spiral shell to the spiral galaxies up above, are excellent devices for the children to learn about scale. When they realize the relative span of objects in nature, they learn about the relative spans of their inner world as well. They learn to face the question: amongst all the truths they learn with courage, what really matters in life? These are questions the children will gladly confront during their discoveries in multi media nature scape workshops. Fractals, golden mean, spiral are all from nature. They are concepts and tools given much weight in our workshops. They are nature’s way of saying that our creativity will be unending once we understand these tools which she has given us.
Problem – creativity meets opposition and suppression. Nature cannot be controlled.
In our culture, “creeping conformism” rears its ugly head on a daily basis. If we do not think the same way as popular opinion demands, then we are scorned and rebuked. Perhaps this was always true, just human nature. But today powerful corporate/media forces present the popular opinion forcefully and persuasively. We attach ourselves mechanically to the corporate/media prescriptions of getting rich quickly, sticking with the familiar and leaving the creativity to Madison Avenue. We learn that creative, original thought is to be eschewed.
To get ahead we must think of ourselves and conform to the rest. How ironic that while we fend for ourselves in a highly competitive society, there is too little time for our children. They are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of our labors and our schools. With too little time we must regiment their lives, make them conform also, and thereby stifle their creativity:
Have them watch television rather than read a book together; not learn from what they learn; not take time to support their compassionate and creative behavior. Is it little wonder that the musical arts are suffering marginalization in the public and private schools of Hawai’i? In our quests for material goods, we have suppressed nature as well. We even delude ourselves to think we can control nature. Our planet may suffocate from creeping conformism!
Our multi media nature scapes workshops allow children to think freely for themselves in a creative environment.
The children may have different views of the world and cultural backgrounds. But they share universal truths through the vehicles of color, nature and rhythm. We show the children how the creative process; that is, actually composing music, is the healthiest process we have as humans. From composing they can freely move to drawing, poetry and other art forms. The creative process has salutary effects for the soul, consciousness and physical well being of humans, our emotional and spiritual life. Every child is naturally creative. Our objective is to make sure they forever retain their natural creativity.
Music contains many other subjects such as language, mathematics, science, logic and history. Our programs address the interrelationship of the arts and other basic core curriculum subjects. Mathematics and science with golden mean, spiral and fractals, pervade our Music of the Spheres (MOTS) programs. MOTS connects electronic music with revolving planets (and the unimaginable sounds they produce) and contemporary visual art, slide projected and dissolved.
Language, history, geography, dance and music merge in Hawai’ian workshops. Workshop leader(s) involve the children in composing tunes for an Hawai’ian Dance, and then, with a professional storyteller, incorporates their songs in the traditional Hawai’ian stories that were recited. They create lyrics and, as closely as possible, recreate the Hawai’ian multi-modal art experience. In Hawai’i the arts merged to become an overwhelming community experience in which everyone participates. No distinction is made between poetry, music, theatre and dance.
In deep listening workshops, the children listen and observe the sounds of nature, outdoors. They celebrate the true source of their creativity. With magical masks and puppets, the children are transported to quiet, peaceful realms where Nature Rules. Nature gives us rhythm with its breathing wind, ebb and flow of tides, heart beat and bird song.
Percussion Ensemble delivers rhythm to the children in an incomparable way. With composer leadership, percussion gives the children unforgettable hands on experience with the instruments. They learn that rhythm is the essence of music. The emotions that root music have their release through rhythm. Percussion combines with dance and colored theatre lighting for exciting multi media art for and by children.
We also strive to show that music and the arts can be learned and appreciated in their own right, as irreplaceable means for understanding human experience. The students are directly involved, through activities such as rehearsal and performance, controlled improvisation, movement and dance. Our goal in evolving this “hands-on” approach is to support and encourage a love for music, which is a necessary and joyful part of education.
Solution – creeping conformism vanishes when creative people thrive and produce.
Our multi media nature scapes encourage focused creativity in the children inspired by the beauty of nature. The children gain lifelong tools for survival when they learn that creativity is the healthiest process known to man. Composers, dancers and other artists reveal to the children basic truths about music. The children take these truths and become more aware of the creative force of nature. The children learn that something in the universe can inspire them from within to create a song, a story, a drawing, a poem, a dance.
And that song, story, drawing, poem or dance gives back to them as much as they give to it. That is the beauty of the creative process. After repeated creative work in our four sequentially related workshops, the children will have tools for their physical and spiritual survival, outside the classroom and for the future. They will also understand more fully the connection between the musical arts and other core curriculum subjects. They may even understand why the Kabbalists said, “the universe is builded to music.”
Nature gives us the elements for our inspiration, water, air, fire and earth. She gives us guides for our creations, the spiral, golden mean, octave and fractal. Our multi media nature scapes workshops allow the children to tap into nature, the creative force, and observe and create music, art, dance and poetry. The children learn to love nature’s beauty. They become more tolerant, loving individuals. They discover the source of their emotions in rhythm. They realize their true nature is creative. Such development in our children ensures the survival of a liberated, enlightened society free from the devastating effects of creeping conformism.