Introduction: The Art of Listening

OneBeat Labs

Introduction – The Art of Listening


Objectives: To learn new ways to listen to the world. To explore listening as an approach to understanding the beauty, division, and hidden potential in our communities. To discuss perspectives on “art as social practice,” and how art-making is a lens through which we can share, learn and listen to one another’s experiences and perspectives of what it means to be human.

Critical questions: How does creative expression help us to understand one another and the world we are in? What are some of the ways creative expression & art-making are being utilized to make an impact in the world?


Unit 1 – Collaboration, Exchange & Community



Opening Activity: Who are you, where are you from, and one “I Am” statement.

Rapid Group Question / Discussion: What do you think “music as social practice” means? Create a word board.

Video: Watch Intro to Found Sound Nation

Exercise: Word board – What did you notice? What terms or images stood out that define the message? (Or group discussion)

Discussion: Read the Found Sound Nation mission statement. From its mission, FSN believes that “collaborative music creation is a deeply effective way to become aware of the beauty, trauma, and hidden potential in our communities.” Do you think this is true? Take each term separately: collaboration, music/sound, and creation. Discuss the meaning of each of these terms, and how they could lead to a stronger society. Share examples of each term from your own experiences (full group or small groups).

Discussion: 3 Pillars of Music as Social Practice

Collaboration / Exchange / Community
Awareness / Listening
Innovation / Creation / Expression

In this Unit, we’re talking about collaboration/exchange/community.

Video: Watch Intro to OneBeat

Exercise: Word board – What did you notice? What terms or images stood out that define the message?

Discussion & Exercise: What does it mean to be a citizen? How do you define your “community”? How would you represent your community to the world? Break into small groups and discuss more, then write down your responses to each question.

Extra/HW: Read about the artists in the OneBeat X Fellow cohort. Select 1-2 artists from the group & write a short 5 question interview for those artists about their work. Submit these questions & we will pass them on to the artists!

OneBeat X Fellows



Opening Activity: Share your responses about community. How do you define your “community,” and how would you represent it to the world?

Exercise: Through the OneBeat program, we’ve met many artists who are using their music to support or strengthen community in different ways. In small groups, do some research on 1-2 of our 25 OneBeat X artists and discuss/write about how each artist approaches this work of community-building.

Discussion: In a full group, share about the artists you learned about. Create a word board of how different artists are approaching music and sound and community.

Exercise: Back in your small groups, revisit your answers about your own community. Define a shared community in your small group, and come up with an outline for a project for your community that uses music, sound, art or creative expression to bring people together. Address these questions:

  1. What is the Issue/Problem you’re addressing?
  2. Who is your audience / group?
  3. What is your idea / solution? How does it involve music, sound or art, if at all?

Unit 2 – Awareness & Listening



Opening Activity: What is the most important, interesting, or noticeable sound or music in your “community”?

Discussion: Introduction to awareness / listening

In this Unit, we are discussing the second of the 3 Pillars of music as social practice: Awareness and listening. Here is the idea: Before we can collaborate or exchange, we must learn to listen & hear the world around us. Do you agree? Why?

This includes listening to people & their stories, but also listening to sounds in the world. How does learning to hear the sounds around us help us?

Reading: Listening as Activism (this can be simplified or made into a Treated Text, as in below).

Reading/Discussion: Pauline Oliveros awareness & attention Treated Text

Exercise A (older): Read & discuss the text in small groups or full class. Parse out the meaning of Attention & Awareness as described by Pauline Oliveros. Following this, select some of the deep listening questions at the bottom of the page to share in full or small groups.

Exercise B (younger): Select deep listening questions at the bottom of the page to answer in small groups or full class. Each student can pick a question to read, while the rest participate or answer. Follow with a journal writing reflection with a prompt around sound and awareness.

Exercise: Rapid deep listening practice

Close your eyes for 1 minute and listen. Open them & write down all the sounds you hear (constant sounds, short sounds, high sounds, low sounds). Optional: Create a drawing of those sounds.

Video & Exercise: In small groups, select any 2 videos from this OneBeat Favs Playlist and comment on it. What interesting sounds do you hear? What story is being told? What is the mood or message?

HW: Bring a recording device to the next class. Also, write down 5 interesting/favorite/unusual sounds you hear during your day.



Opening Activity: Share one of the 5 sounds that you noted from your day. What drew you to that sound?

Exercise: Found Sound Challenge

Begin with an overview of using your recording devices. Practice recording a sound as a full group, leaving time at the beginning & the end of the recording, and recording the sound for at least 5 seconds. Listen back.

Students are given a theme (suggested by a teacher, FSN staff, or a visiting artist) and asked to collect/record a series of sounds based around that theme (example themes: water, joy, childhood, etc). Record 5 seconds of sound for each sample, and leave time before & after if possible. Write a title for each sound. Extra: take a picture of the material you record!

If possible, students can do this in class – if they can go outside or around campus, that is even better.

Discussion: What was interesting about this exercise? How did you approach it?

Exercise/HW: Upload sounds into a shared library (suggestion: Padlet). A visiting artist (or teacher/FSN staff) can use those sounds & samples to make a composite piece of music that they will share in the final week. Students are also invited (not required) to create pieces with those sounds using their phone, or other software they have.

HW: Continue the exercise at home. Record a few more sounds in your home or neighborhood & add to the shared library. And/or create your own piece with those sounds, using your phone or any other software you might have!

Unit 3 – Creator & Maker



Opening Activity: What kinds of things do you like to make or create? What’s the last thing you made?

Viewing/Reading & Discussion: Introduce Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project. As a group, read the About page & watch the video. In full group or small groups, discuss:

– What was the issue or problem that needed to be solved?

– What is the “community” in this case?

– What were the ideas for creative solutions to address this issue?

– What do you find meaningful about this project?

Exercise: As part of this project, FSN co-founder Chris Marianetti developed the Broken Orchestra Typewriter (be sure to play with the settings!). In small groups, try out the typewriter and type out how it makes you feel. Come back in a full group and share your thoughts about this project & the interactive typewriter. How did this project bring together a community? How does the interactive typewriter expand people’s relationship to music and sound?

Exercise: Return to your small groups from Unit 1, Part 2. Revisit the project ideas you started brainstorming for your community. Develop one idea as a group for a way to use creative expression to support or strengthen your community. Give it a name, a mission statement and a plan. Add a logo or artwork to it (optional)!

Alternative Exercise: Continue researching 1-2 of the OneBeat X artists who will be visiting Taos in October. Create a presentation or full interview with that artist.



Depending on how students are doing, we recommend continuing to work on project ideas during the first half of Part 2, and having small groups present to the class.

In the second half, revisit the sounds collected on Padlet. Listen to the sounds individually, then introduce the track that was created by a visiting artist & discuss. In some cases, we may be able to have this visiting artist participate in a virtual visit with the classroom to share the track.


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