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Sonic Postcards Project, 2004-2005

Shetland, UK-wide and International

Sonic Postcards is a unique and innovative national education programme which explores soundscapes and encourages participants to “open their ears”. The project enables pupils from across the UK to explore and compare their local sound environments through the composition and exchange — via the internet — of sound postcards with other schools.  

I was a workshop leader in the first years of the project, from 2005 into 2007, working in four Shetland schools: Bressay, Hamnavoe and Whiteness Primary Schools and Baltasound Junior High School. This project was a national project which became international.  The pupils made graphic scores in the classroom, and I showed them how to record using audio equipment loaned to us by the Sonic Arts Network. They recorded local sound and then returned to the classroom to edit and create Sonic Postcards which we exchanged by email with other schools around the country. Each school performed their sound compositions publicly in locations each school selected, including  the Northlink Ferry Terminal (Whiteness Primary School) and an outdoor site on Bressay.  SNH supported two of the schools in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the RSPB at Noss and Herma Ness.

The project focuses on the impact of sound on our lives and demonstrates the possibilities for creativity through the manipulation of sounds with technology.  As with an ordinary postcard it offers the opportunity for people to exchange information about their local environments; providing windows into a variety of places, lives and cultures in rural, urban and coastal locations.  I had a wonderful experience during the pandemic when I was at my local shop on Burra Isle. One of the people who worked in the shop during the Sonic Postcards Project was also shopping at the same time as me.  She told the new shop owner all about the visit pupils from Hamnavoe Primary School made to the shop and how they recorded her working the till which still had a cash register.

Sonic Postcards is aimed at young people between the ages of 9-14 in primary, secondary and special schools, PRUs (Pupil Referral Units) and community groups across the country.

Sonic Postcards is run by Sonic Arts Network, the national organisation which explores the art of sound. 

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