EcoTarium’s “Wild Music” Exhibit: Experience the Sounds and Songs of Life
Our children are naturally curious, learning through experiences in the world around them. At the EcoTarium’s new hands-on exhibit, open May 30th through September 6th, children and adults alike are given the opportunity to “explore sound and music in nature and in life” in an interactive atmosphere. My family and I had a wonderful time on opening day. The children were able to engross themselves in the sounds of birds, whales, forest animals, urban life, and musical instruments from around the world.
As we entered through the sliding doors we were greeted by sounds of laughter and music. The eyes of my young children lit-up as they took in their surroundings. My 5-year-old son headed directly over to the rock wall to climb, as my 1 year daughter was mesmerized by the wind-blown, spinning pinwheels on the wall. We were on the third floor of the EcoTarium, exploring the “Weather” exhibit before we ventured downstairs. The kids were beyond excited!
As we moved on to the second floor we approached the all new “Wild Music Exhibit“. We found a path of listening stations offering a variety of hands-on activities and “immersive soundscapes”. Some offering musical challenges, showing us our “in-born ability to notice the timing and pitch relationships between notes”, while others demonstrate the ways in which sounds of nature can be considered music. Sampling the “music” whales make and the underwater microphone allowed us to hear how sound travels under water. My husband very much enjoyed learning to interpret spectrograms as the children looked on with curiosity.
A favorite for our family was the soundproof “Jamming Room”. Here, individuals are given the opportunity to play different instruments, as well as use a microphone to “shape” their voices by adjusting their Volume, Pitch, and Reverb with large knobs. My son had an amazing time sampling different sounds of nature through drum pads. Perhaps we have a little musician on our hands!? Our family spent an ample amount of time experimenting and playing in this fun filled music room.
After a short break to enjoy a snack, we went down to the first floor to check out the “Bioacoustics Labs”. My son thought this was “so cool!” We felt how sounds vibrate, and we tried out our “electronic voices”! (6) The spectrogram station was a great visual aid in explaining to the children how your pitch can vary from one person to another. It was quite adorable to see/hear my daughter attempting to mimic the vibrating sounds, “OH”, “EE”, “EH”, and “AH” as we continued on our way. The large xylophone was a big hit with all the children! Toward the end of our tour of the exhibit we came to a section about birds. The many stations provided information and sounds demonstrating how certain birds and other creatures sound like musical instruments and have special meaning. The naturally made musical instruments from around the world was inspiring. The kids attempted to make their own when we got home.
The highlight of our day was the amazing ‘West African Rhythm Project’! This interactive, live show brought the children to their feet and the audience onto the stage. My 1 ½ yr old daughter loved playing drums with the musicians, and I very much enjoyed learning about the different drums. I had no idea how many different types of drums there are or the large variety of natural materials they use to make them. I must admit that this was a wonderful experience for my family all around.
As difficult as it was to pry my little girl away from the live music, the boys wanted to continue on and follow some trails. So, we ended our day with a fun little walk, enjoying nature and listening to the sounds around us. Birds were “chirping”, frogs were “peeping”; but most importantly, children were laughing, grown-ups were talking, and people were happy. Thank you to everyone at the EcoTarium for their dedication to making learning an enjoyable experience.