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 musics tritone interval and natures 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 natures 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
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:
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 Hawaii? 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
Language, history, geography, dance and music merge in Hawaiian
workshops. Workshop leader(s) involve the children in composing tunes
for an Hawaiian Dance, and then, with a professional storyteller,
incorporates their songs in the traditional Hawaiian stories that
were recited. They create lyrics and, as closely as possible, recreate
the Hawaiian multi-modal art experience. In Hawaii the arts
merged to become an overwhelming community experience in which everyone
participates. No distinction is made between poetry, music, theatre and
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
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 natures 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.