Nature’s Choir Workshop Schedule


Thursday, August 12:

2:00 pm: Check in to your Lodges – participants who are lodging at the Sanctuary may check into their lodges 3:45 pm: Gather at the Appalachian Forest Museum

3:45 pm Meet at the Appalachian Forest Museum. Please gather at the Museum meeting room to prepare to begin the program at 4 pm sharp.

4:00 pm: Welcome to Nature’s Choir – Introduction to the Arc and to the services and facilities of the Appalachian Forest Museum. Meet your colleagues and course leaders.

6:00 pm: Dinner at the Appalachian Forest Museum

7:00 pm: The Art of Active Listening I. Active listening works no only with human relationships but with insects too! Before we head off into the field, Lisa Rainsong will offer guidance on how to actively listen to the songs of insects. You will receive a basic introduction to relevant musical terms describing insect music, and guidance on how to start training your ears to be able to eventually identify different species by sound.

8:00 pm:  Your First Sound Immersion!! We will be heading out to the field for your first introduction to filtering the “wall of sound” into its various musicians. On this first night we will be taking it easy and allowing your mind and ears to adjust to new ways of perceiving the complexity of summer sounds. In mid August the singers will be approaching their peak of breeding enthusiasm, so it will be a wondrously intense sensory experience. Our likely destination will be Crow Point, a prairie tract of land inside the Sanctuary.

Friday, August 13:

9:00 AM: Breakfast 

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Morning Presentation “Singing Insects: an introduction to their natural history and ID.”  Learning the songs of singing insects is challenging yet exhilarating. It is extremely exciting to being able to put a name to the singer that you are hearing because that very act means you are actually able to distinguish one sound, and therefore one species, from the rest of the symphony! First, we will help you become familiar with the terminology for the various sounds these singers make. Wil Hershberger will help interpret the trills, chirps, lisps, zits, tisps, and rattles so that your mind can begin to sort out recognizable and describable sounds.

1:00 PM: Lunch 

BREAK – Free time to rest, relax, or hike one of the many beautiful trails in the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. We will be working your mind and ears hard tonight, so rest as much as you need to.

5:00 PM: Introduction to the Songs and Natural History of Cicadas. Every bio-region in the world with sufficient water and a long enough summer season has its own distinct assemblage of native cicadas. Cicada songs contribute to a sense of place, and are often associated with the “call of the wild.” Actively listening to the sound of a cicada that has long been absent from your life can take you back in time as emotionally and as quickly as a long-ago fragrance. Southern Ohio is rich in cicadas. These dawn to dusk singers will require you to develop new listening skills and musical terms. This will be your introduction.

6:00 PM: Dinner 

7:00 PM:  “Active Listening II – how to listen and identify musical insects by sound.”

8:00 PM:  Field Trip. “Back into the Wall of Sound!”  Tuning to the tree crickets and meadow katydids. Now that your ears and minds are starting to adjust, we will work even harder to pull the individual musicians out of the night symphony. Crow Point is a very productive and bio-diverse location for Orthopterans. Our plan is to return to Crow Point a second time so that you can gauge your improving ability to precipitate the wall of sound into species in the exact same conditions as the night before.

Saturday, August 14:

8:00 AM: Breakfast. 

9:00 AM: Field Trip to Kamelands. We will carpool with as few cars as possible to the Sanctuary tract of land known as the Kamelands, a tract with a mosaic of old meadows, young forest, and mature forest. This important outing will begin to tune your ears to the Orthopterans that sing by day (and sometimes all night long, too). You will be amazed at how many day singers we will see and hear in a group of insects associated in most people’s minds with the night. This is our first chance to concentrate on the cicadas, a group of insects that will be in full peak song this time of the year and time of the day.

Lunch served at the Sanctuary.

BREAK – Free time to rest, relax, hike, etc. We will once again be staying up into the night, so rest up while you can.

5:00 PM: Crickets and Katydids in Context, led by Lisa Rainsong.

6:00 PM: Dinner

7:00 PM: Introduction to recording Nature Sounds,” led by Wil Hershberger.

8:00 pm Night listening – Field trip to Cedar Run. Cedar Run’s trails lead into a landscape mosaic of young forests, open fields, stream corridors, and wet meadows. This evening will be throbbing with sound, giving you a third opportunity to break the “sound barrier” with your comprehension.

Sunday, August 15:

Before heading to breakfast, please remove all of your personal belongings from the lodges so housekeeping can begin cleaning.

9:00 AM: Breakfast 

10:00 AM: Practicum in the field! Here’s an opportunity to see how well you have learned the daytime singers.

NOON:  Never without Song – enlighten your days! – OR – Bringing Insect Song into Your Home.  Learn about caring for your crickets and other insects in your home. Enjoy an indoor presentation demonstrating the diversity of species that make good companions in the home. You will also learn which species to avoid, and how to set up terrariums to best support your inside chirping friends. This is an extremely important component of the program. The diverse summer singers are not always easy to learn. Many Orthopterans sing at frequencies near the edge of the listener’s upper hearing threshold. They sing in multi-species complexes that truly sounds like a wall of sound to beginners. And, they often fall silent when approached – making it hard to associate a song with its singer. One of the best ways to learn insect songs is to bring the singers inside your house, where you can study their songs and behavior without so many difficulties. Whether you keep them during the peak of the season just long enough to learn their songs; or you extend their musical lives beyond the killing frosts at season’s end, learning to care for these insects indoors can be a very fruitful skill to learn.

12:30 PM: Lunch and Departure.  Participants are invited to drive safely home, or hike on their own. Trails close at sunset.

Slightly Musical Conehad by Lisa Rainsong
Mole Cricket by Wil Hershberger
Photo by Lisa Rainsong
Slightly Musical Conehead. Photo by Wil Hershberger.
Dark Brown Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid. Photo by Lisa Rainsong.
Snowy Tree Cricket. Photo by Wil Hershberger.
Black-sided Meadow Katydid by Lisa Rainsong