What did Arab Spring, Civil Rights, and the Union movement have in common? You guessed it - Music!

All successful social movements that I have studied had a soundtrack; that is, music that played a key role in spreading the message beyond the core constituency, engaging and inspiring people that would not have otherwise been involved.  This is one of the main points of Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony, a film documenting music's role (e.g., unity, motivation, communication) in overturning Apartheid.  

As reported by MSNBC, rap played a pivotal role in the 2011 Libya, Tunisia and Egypt uprisings:

[Rappers] are pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression across the Middle East. The rappers have even been credited with helping to spark the so-called Arab Spring uprisings that deposed three long-serving dictators and rocked several other regimes.

The significant factor is youth: 60 percent people in the Arab world are aged under 30. Rap popularized calls for reform and the Internet spread that message like wildfire. 

Recall how the will.i.am-produced “Yes We Can” music video (24 million views and counting) buoyed Obama and the movement he spurred for hope and change on the 2008 campaign trail.  Late last year when the Occupy Movement was faltering, a New York Times article pointed out that one of the movement's downfalls could be the lack of an anthem.  

As leaders in the emerging Nature Connection movement, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions:

  1. Does the Nature Connection movement need a soundtrack?
  2. If so, what types of music will be most effective and where would we want to them placed? 
  3. What is our role in creating the conditions for the appropriate Nature advocacy music to emerge? 

Here's some thoughts from my social enterprise, BALANCE Edutainment:

  • The popular refrain that “we are what we eat” seems reasonable on a physical level. Awfully reasonable when we are eating junk and beautifully reasonable when we are eating whole, organic foods. On the cultural level, however, one might say we are our music. We are what we listen to. We are what we learn the lyrics of. We are what we sing in the shower or in the car.Unfortunately, most popular songs glorify things that are making us unhealthy as individuals and as a culture.
  • Music, in its various forms including audio, performances and videos, is our most viral communication platform.   
  • If we want to deeply engage youth, we need to meet kids where they are at, which - with respect to music - is Youtube and the radio especially Disney Radio.  

If you got this far, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially to the question:

Does the Children & Nature Network in particular and the Nature Connection Movement in general need a soundtrack? 

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Very interesting question Dave. I agree that music is a powerful cultural force. Imagine the impact of big name music celebrities singing out connecting with nature with the kind of passion they speak of romantic connection! I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you on the type of music, but perhaps it would be even more effective to use multiple music genres. Best wishes with your important work.

A few years ago, Jason Mraz performed a version of one his song "I'm Yours" as "Outdoors" for Sesame Street:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrqF7yD10Bo

Hey Michael, I love Jason Mraz for his music and who he is in the world.  I also love Sesame Street.  Thanks for sending this song.  We call this a tribute - that is, when the lyrics are altered.  I think this is an excellent example of a song that actually could make being outdoors cool... for 3-6 year olds.  The unfortunate things is by the time I kid is a certain age, anything on Sesame Street is pretty much "uncool."  My daughter is nine and she will not have anything to do with Sesame Street, though she did enjoy the recent Muppet movie.  

Anyway, I think that the Jason Mraz Outdoors Tribute is could be most useful to the Nature Connection movement if we replaced the muppet voices with a kids choir.  We work with the Agape Youth Choir and they have performed with Jason.  I bet their could be a really cool collaboration that would appeal to youth.  

I did a more extensive look into the videos viewership and who has seen it on my blog:

http://balanceedutainment.com/2012/09/09/nature-connection-soundtrack/ 

Michael D. Barton said:

A few years ago, Jason Mraz performed a version of one his song "I'm Yours" as "Outdoors" for Sesame Street:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrqF7yD10Bo

Scott, I think you make an excellent point - if we want to reach all children, then we will need to work with multiple genres of music to account for varieties in taste.  In my work with the Children's Pop Music - Pacha's Pajamas - we're using multiple-genre influenced pop music. In Vol I of the Pacha's Pajamas Soundtrack, there are elements of Ballad, Dance, Latin, Hip Hop, Rock Rap, Country, and R&B.  Our thinking was that we need to meet kids where they are at. So we started by listening to what was being played on Disney Radio and on children's tv shows.  

Besides genre, I think it is also important that all of the music includes kids, and that there is healthy balance between kids and adults if adults are on the track.  My daughter is about to "become a woman" if you know what I mean, and has been cramping a lot. Her Mom has been trying to tell her about it, but apparently Melia's eyes of glaze over almost to say "you obviously don't remember what it is like since it was 30 years ago."  So Melia's Mom had the brilliant idea of setting up a sleepover with two of Melia's friends who already have their cycles including one who made the transition about a month ago.  I share this to say that kids are more credible messengers than adults, especially when we are talking about values and direct experience.    



Scott D. Sampson said:

Very interesting question Dave. I agree that music is a powerful cultural force. Imagine the impact of big name music celebrities singing out connecting with nature with the kind of passion they speak of romantic connection! I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you on the type of music, but perhaps it would be even more effective to use multiple music genres. Best wishes with your important work.

Dave,

Love the question - and yes, I think our movement needs soundtracks - plural.  Popular music as a messenger and means to engage kids, but also the music from our respective cultural heritages.  I'm not a music historian or anything close, but I'll bet the music of our ancestors was much about our relationship with nature.  Bringing that music into the present could not only give nature new voice, but also help us in our quest to diversify our own voice.

 

Manny

Yes to soundtracks plural.  Wonder if playlists are a better metaphor.  

I look forward to the day when there are local and regional lists, the aggregate up to the national and global lists.  Kind of like Billboard Hot 100 lists today but with all Conscious Music (or whatever you want to call it).     

p.s., Anyone know a music historian that could tell us how nature is represented in our music has changed over time? 


Manny Kiesser said:

Dave,

Love the question - and yes, I think our movement needs soundtracks - plural.  Popular music as a messenger and means to engage kids, but also the music from our respective cultural heritages.  I'm not a music historian or anything close, but I'll bet the music of our ancestors was much about our relationship with nature.  Bringing that music into the present could not only give nature new voice, but also help us in our quest to diversify our own voice.

 

Manny

A great question!  A few years back, instead of paying ourselves, we decided to feature the music of  Sigur Ros in our film, Play Again.  It is amazing how many young 20 something interns told us "I knew I had to work with you when I saw Sigur Ros is in the film".    We have been posting songs on our facebook page each week this year - a shout out to musicians that are helping bring attention to the importance of our connection to the outdoors in one way or another.  Music is powerful and it brings people together.  So yes, we need a children and nature soundtrack!  What a great project for some highschoolers.

Thanks for the response Meg. I think we may have met a couple years ago at Bioneers.

I'd love to see high schoolers - and kids of all ages - across the country if not the world creating music that promotes the connection between between children and nature.  It could be helpful if the movement had a mechanism to encourage and shine a spotlight on such music.  My company just completed the soundtrack for Children's Pop Musical that features celebrities and kids singing songs from the perspective of nature.  The support of the children and nature movement could be helpful as we endeavor to breakthrough into mainstream pop culture (a very challenging task).  At this point, such a mechanism does not exist in a concerted way. Perhaps an awards program or a seal could be helpful.            

If anyone is interested in the notion of an awards program or seal for transformational entertainment that supports nature connection and potentially other categories , connect with me.  


Meg Merrill said:

A great question!  A few years back, instead of paying ourselves, we decided to feature the music of  Sigur Ros in our film, Play Again.  It is amazing how many young 20 something interns told us "I knew I had to work with you when I saw Sigur Ros is in the film".    We have been posting songs on our facebook page each week this year - a shout out to musicians that are helping bring attention to the importance of our connection to the outdoors in one way or another.  Music is powerful and it brings people together.  So yes, we need a children and nature soundtrack!  What a great project for some highschoolers.

Thanks Suz for recommending  this  article to me, yes I agree music is sure powerful. We also made a song with Angelo Oddia and a youtube video that did get a lot of hits on youtube. Check it out here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RRZ4jYcbL4

The youtube video is shoot by filmmaker Russell Gienapp  and was part of pilot for a Children show. We are  still pitching to broadcasters.

Nice video Kari and congrats on getting some significant hits :)

There is a group called the Blues Rangers.  All of the members of the band are foresters here in south Mississippi. All of their songs are nature inspired.  Check them out and especially their song "Get Out" which inspires you to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.... http://www.myspace.com/thebluesrangers/music/songs/get-out-15056516

yes thats quite interesting and would be a great idea.

I think if we are looking at rappers that would relate to kids and nature message then it would be best using kids or at laest fronting any rap band with some kids. Lots of little ones love this modern form of dance and music combination and I can well imagine that thousands would relate to any a mesage to get outside.

A good idea would be that the rapping preformers ....performed outside too.

 

Hope you dont mind me adding this short video ( ignore the ads and the fact that it is Amercias Got Talent but just see how cute they are and how the audience relates to them

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