Impact of Nature Beats on our practice
Nature Beats has had a profound impact on the staff, partner agencies and young people at Wild Earth. The impact of going out into nature at least, once a week for 30 weeks cannot be underestimated. Music making is a way of life here at Wild Earth.
"Being passionate about indigenous music and having seen how inspiring and inclusive it is for a young person to sit in a circle eye-to-eye, increasingly confident and relaxed moment by moment during a nature based music session have been humbling to say the least.
They are made aware of the courage it has taken to attend a new course. Some have not left the house in months or years and now they step bravely across the threshold in to a new experience in the woods and out of their comfort zone. They get to know each other while setting up base camp, which shines a light on and helps develop existing skills and allows individuals to discover new ones to add to their tool kit.
During solo sit spot time, they sit in the woods and listen to all the life around them and contemplate their own path in life and what they would like to change. They take one step after another until they have found their own rhythm and feel able to weave in to the world around them.
Having found, recorded their own sounds, they play music together. They take a part of a plant or tree, a seed pod or a Y-shaped branch covered in shells or bottle caps: to take goat, horse or buffalo skin create a a rhythm as old humans. This takes people to a deep part of self that is in itself rooted in nature and our connection with it. Having a vision for this programme and seeing and listening through the eyes and ears of young people during our early years at Wild Earth allowed me to see the potential for “Nature Beats”.
Quite often, when we asked young people, “What have you enjoyed most?” “Nature and Music,” was a common answer. It was unsurprising that when fused together they became greater than the sum of their parts.
Most of the instruments introduced to the young people were very close to nature. When playing a natural sound scape or fast paced rhythm, and then asking the group what is it that they just heard – their eyes would light up. That is a pumpkin, a baobab seed, a coconut shell polished to perfection, vegetable gourds to help amplify the tones of wooden notes, hollowed sticks in didgeridoo cut to specific keys, bamboo and sugar cane – things that were new to the young people and opened their minds to how music is made around the world.
“I didn’t think people would like me!”
“ I am actually a nice person.“
“This course changed my life.”
These are some common reflections at the circle time around the camp fire – that witnessed this transformation time and again of low esteem to glowing confidence, ready to take on the next steps in life."
- Alex, Founder and Director, Wild Earth and Music Leader
"I have transferred outdoor skills in a classroom situation. I apply techniques I have learnt at Wild Earth in my other jobs, as I have started using the talking circle, talking stick, sit spots and safe space agreements in the classroom and they really work. I have brought the 'wild' inside in the context of formal education – how nature can help inside (the classroom) and inside your mind too..."
- Richard, Media Tutor, Wild Earth and Coventry University
"As a music leader and sound engineer, the opportunity to support the development of so many young people is constantly energising, both during sessions and in beyond the programme. Creating activities that help others collaborate and learn creatively in itself is a real buzz. But a great thing is, this buzz has continued into my wider interest in and passion for sound and music. Spending time in wild and woodland spaces, talking, listening, cooking and recording wild sounds, all leaves ideas whizzing around my mind following Nature Beats session. In light of this, I have developed my own practice that brings the outdoors into my life more often than once a week, something which continues to provide inspiration and clarity on the many projects I am working on. Early mornings are often the best times for this; I’ll take a camera or my sound recording kit, or just a coffee, and walk up onto the hills before the world is awake and demanding my attention. This is a special time for me, and as is the case with Nature Beats, I do this throughout the year, appreciating every season in its rawest form while soaking up inspiration; the dawn chorus in spring, cracking ice underfoot in winter, ripping winds and breaking branches in autumn. Working with Wild Earth has inspired this practice, and I am always happy to feed my inspiration and ideas back into the Nature Beats program to complete the cycle."
- Mike Rucinski, Senior Music Leader and Director, Boutique Recording
“Connecting with young people gives me inspiration and energy. We work with the spirit of collaboration and this journey of co-production has been a significant element of evolution at Wild Earth. All the programmes and activities are co-designed with the young people, especially, the youth mentors. As a practitioner, it is very encouraging to see young people emerge as leaders and embark on their paths as mentors or move on to employment.
Going into nature and witnessing the changing of seasons, helps ground us personally. There is huge learning from the systemic changes in nature, for our self-care and development. For instance, I have benefitted personally from the energy rising during spring and letting go during Autumn.
As a child, I was introduced to formal music learning from the age of three and until the age of 21, I learnt and explored various forms of Indian music – classical, folk, Rabindra Sangeet (from Bengal), vocal music and mainstream film music. Music was also a great way of national integration. I have grown up watching several musical campaigns aimed at unifying a diverse nation with over 25 different languages. Music has been instrumental in making peace with neighbouring countries as 'music knows no boundaries' and like many young people growing up in India at the time, I idolised Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and other Sufi musicians along with influences from national and international music icons. Music has been a doorway in expanding aspirations and fuelling exploration in my generation. Since I migrated to the UK at the age of 23, I slowly lost the connection of daily practice and with the years that have gone by, it had become something of a distant past. Through Nature Beats however, I have re-connected with music exploration again and music is an integral part of my family life bonding us all together as a unit.”
– Geeta, Programme Manager Nature Beats and Freelance Creative Practitioner
“Since joining the team at Wild Earth I have developed my practice in nature connection and music leadership. Nature beats has allowed me to plan sessions in a an outdoor setting using natural found sounds to engage young people in creative music making activities that may not have the opportunity to play an instrument. This method has allowed young people to be part of an ensemble in the woods using trees, sticks, leaves, vocals and various other natural objects that make sounds.
By giving a young person the freedom to pick a natural object/sound and allowing them to make a rthythm or melody in a natural setting along with other members in the group to create a Jam/composition has given young people the confidence to try other music making activities and actively seek other music sessions.
This has been a great way to provide inclusive music activities for young people and has enabled staff and young people to experiment with sound to create some really interesting pieces of music that have encouraged and inspired young people to continue making music and myself to think of new ways to engage young people in creative music making activities.”
– Dave Mills, Programme Co-ordinator Stepping Stones and Director of Media Mania
“Wild Earth has had a great impact on my personal and work life. I am a youth worker and a yoga teacher. Learning about the ritual of the circle and the sit spots lend itself very well to yoga, mindfulness and general life skills. I have brought these elements into my yoga practice and self-practice.
Nature connection is an important part of my life for grounding and keeping a healthy mind. The drumming we do is also great for meditation at the end of the yoga session. I love the energy exchange of the space we use whilst outside in the woods, it’s an important part of my learning, to respect the land as it is so important for our future. Nature Beats programme at Wild Earth has been a great life lesson and journey, and it has been amazing to see all the young people flourish and grow in confidence.”
– Louise Jerzyszek, Youth Worker and Yoga Practitioner