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A Parent's Review: 'The Music of Trees' at Washington Park Arboretum

Published on: December 30, 2013

The kids ran and skipped down the paths of the Washington Park Arboretum, exuberant after a full day of school. Suddenly, we heard a sound, the music we were looking for. We slowed down, the children becoming attentive and focused.

Soon we figured out where the strange noises were coming from: the trees. We spotted the speakers and tubing, and stopped to listen to the strange noises funneling out. We had found the first stop on the tour Paths II: The Music of Trees.

Music of Trees; photo by Abby Aresty

University of Washington Music grad student Abby Aresty has created a unique musical piece, and installed it in the trees and shrubs at the Washington Park Arboretum, on exhibit through October, 2012 (see below for details). She came to the park many times to listen to and record natural and human sounds, which she then combined into a musical composition. Kids and adults will enjoy exploring the paths in the Arboretum and searching for these otherworldly sounds.

The day we went it was sunny and warm, but we saw plenty of evidence that fall has arrived.


We printed out a map of the seven sites where the speakers were installed, which helped us define our journey for the day.

We quickly saw that our kids were of a different mood than some of the other folks who had come to hear the music; our kids were like puppies let out for a romp, but many folks were more contemplative. We tried to give other folks their space while we also tried to help our own kids to settle and listen more calmly.


We heard rain falling on leaves, wind blowing, dries flowers falling, and even fly feet walking around on a microphone.

If you go ...

Hours: The Music of Trees sound installation is open on Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. It only runs through the end of October, so don't delay!

More information. You can read more about the exhibition on the Arboretum website, a Seattle Times article, an NPR story (where I heard about it) and a UW Today article.

Photo credits: The first photo of the trees by Abby Aresty; second two photos by Jennifer Johnson.

jennifer-johnson-135w1About the author: Jennifer Johnson looks for any excuse to escape into nature with her children. She blogs about hiking with children at, where this article originally appeared.

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