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Shirley Whalley
Category: Creativity

The Challenge of Simplicity

Last year I visited Aeolus, the Accoustic Wind Pavilion by Luke Jerram (  I spent much of my time taking photographs and also observing the reactions of others.  The adults I observed were wanting to know more about the construction, costs, and voicing opinions on its siting (at that time it was outside the house at Lyme Park).  The children I observed immediately wanted to touch it, bounce balls, hide, make sounds and listen to what happened if one of them tapped and the other put an ear to one of the “tubes”.  For my part I loved the way the light reflected the greens of the landscape, and how the colourschanged as you looked through/around it at differning angles.  I decided to come back the following day with some singing bowls and played around for a couple of hours, experimenting with the sounds.  I tell this story because I was absolutely and simply absorbed by this experience,.  Now on reflection, I feel it is a part of our humanity to create and experiment and for that creative impulse to be a central part of our lives. 

Making and receiving sound is fundamental to who we are.  A few other experiences:

Sitting on a dementia day ward, wondering how to encourage participation, then casting that aside and taking the risk of simply being – providing instruments and experimenting, hearing snippets of remembered songs, repeated stories, voices, tears and laughter.  Without any critic, without any judgment, Sitting and humming and copying sounds and rhythms and creating harmonies and songs together.   At a workshop last year, a comment by a fine singer that they had forgotten how it felt to make noise without the discipline of “dots” or performance perfection.  Watching my granddaughter (age 8) instruct a small group of adults on how to “play with the singing bowls – you just do it like this and then listen!)

And then of course there is nature.  Walking through rain, soft or lashing, the wind through trees, water gushing, fire crackling, birds in the early morning or late evening.  The sound of our own footfall as we walk mindfully.   Try leaving your watch at home and set out, one step at a time, listening to all around you, hear how it feels and what you discover about yourself and the world around you.

Yes, most of this is obvious, the challenge is in the simplicity of being in every step, in every sound and every sight; and the joy when we come together to play and listen in this way.

Posted: 14 Jan 2013 By: Laura Cousins

Thank you for that, Shirley. What you say about the work with dementia patients sounds so similar to Lifemusic. Would love to hear more about it, please.

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