Some sounds (i.e., trickling water, ocean waves, small song birds singing, music) can positively affect our mood, emotions and alertness, while other sounds can negatively overwhelm us and reduce our sensitivity to sound (i.e., repetitive high or low pitch sounds, traffic, crowds, airplanes, television, etc.). Most of us have a natural ability to “tune things” or use audio devices which require us to wear ear plugs to block out unwanted sounds. In doing so, we regularly “tune out” the more subtle soft-spoken sounds of nature. Like the sounds of the white-tailed Ptarmigan (p is silent) in the photo above.
In addition to the Ptarmigan’s keen ability to blend into its environment, its soft clucks and chatter can be next to impossible to distinguish amongst the alpine winds and sounds where they live unless you take a minute to really focus on hearing their beautiful song. An audible treat easily missed when we’re “tuned out”.
Before beginning the exercises below, please take a few minutes to unwind from the day’s activities and rest your sense of sound (ears) a bit by finding a quiet place in your home and, as best you can, shut out the noise for a short time. If you have ear plugs available, grab a couple and bring them with you. Now sitting somewhere comfortable, place the ear plugs into your ears, close your eyes, and breathe in and exhale slowly and deeply. Try to focus only on your breathing. Do this for a few minutes.
Like yesterday’s exercise, the exercises for “sound” involve a small amount of writing. Even if the creativity you want to cultivate is not writing-related, the process of getting thoughts out of your head and on to paper can unleash all sorts of creative ideas.
Supplies you’ll need to get started:
- Something to play music (electronic device, stereo, etc.)
- A favorite song
- Notebook or paper pad
- Egg Timer or watch with timer
Exercise 1: Music
Be sure your home remains as quiet as possible while you work through the steps below.
Step 1: With your favorite music ready to play (but still turned off), sit somewhere where you can control your music / device from and write comfortably in your notebook. Read and complete Step 2.
Step 2: Read the following questions:
- What song did you select?
- Why do you think you’re drawn to this song?
- How does the song affect you?
Step 3: Turn your timer on for 5 minutes and write your answers in your notebook. Keep writing until the timer stops. When the timer stops, stop writing and move onto Step 4.
Step 4: Play one of your favorite songs on your selected playing device and listen to the entire song. Just sit back and enjoy it.
Step 5: Play the entire same song over again and this time focus your attention on the instruments only. As you are listening, write down, in your notebook, each instrument you hear during the song. When the song is finished playing, review the list of instruments and answer the following question.
- Which instrument affected you in a positive way and why?
Step 6: Turn your timer on for 5 minutes and write your answer in your notebook. Feel free to listen to parts of the song again if you need to. Keep writing until the timer stops. When the timer stops, stop writing and move onto Step 7.
Step 7: Play the entire same song again and this time focus on the voices only. As you are listening, write down, in your notebook, the number of different voices/singers you hear during the song and identify the pitch of their voice by selecting either high, medium, or low . When the song is finished playing, review the list of voices and answer the following question.
- Which voice affected you in a positive way and why?
Step 8: Turn your timer on for 5 minutes and write your answer in your notebook. Feel free to listen to parts of the song again if you need to. Keep writing until the timer stops. When the timer stops, stop writing and move onto Step 9.
Step 9: Read back through your answers again and take a moment to reflect on how you might be able to use this information to enhance your creative time. Perhaps consider purchasing a music CD that only features one instrument (the one you identified above in Step 5) and has no voice accompaniment.
Exercise 2: Nature
Step 1: Go for a walk in a park or on a hike for at least 30 minutes. Throughout your walk or hike, stop frequently to listen intently to the sounds around you and write each one down in your notebook. Next to each sound write either a P for a positive sound you liked or N for a negative sound you did not like.
Your Goal – try to identify and write down at least 25 different sounds.
Step 2: When you return home, review your notes and determine how you can use the positive sounds in a future creative project or to make your life more creative. Set your timer for 10 minutes and write down your ideas in your notebook. Keep writing until the timer stops.
Exercise 3: Classical Music
Step 1: The next time you work on a creative project, avoid playing your usual music CD. Instead, play classical music you think you might enjoy. Classical may not be your cup of tea, but give it an honest try anyway – at least once without any judgment or bias. If you find the music you’ve selected is too intense, immediately try something with more delicate soothing tones. Also, select a creative project that does not require intense focus. Any music playing can be distracting.
Step 2: When your creative time is complete, write your answer to the following questions in your notebook.
- What classical music did you play?
- Was the music upbeat and energizing or subdued and soothing?
- How did the music make you feel while you were creating?
- In what way did the music help your creativity?
Go to the next post in my series: Day 23: Smell and Taste