About Chris Zorn

Portrait of Chris Zorn
Photo: Courtney Hiraoka

I am a musician, multi-media artist and educator, currently living in the Hawaiian Islands. This beautiful, blue water planet and the incredible variety of its inhabitants and their various forms of expression are a constant source of creative inspiration to me. To paraphrase a line from the 2001 movie K-Pax, “the music alone is worth the trip”.

I’m constantly excited about the things I notice as I make my way through the world. All the different forms of artistic expression that I’m inspired to do every day are my way of appreciating and participating in this mysterious, unfolding experience we call life.

I’ve been following my creative inclinations ever since I can remember and, from a very early age I’ve been sharing that excitement in numerous roles as an educator or facilitator. Through the years I’ve tutored English, taught rock climbing and wilderness skills, computer software, African marimba music, growing medicinal herbs, bookmaking, calligraphy and a host of other things. Teaching has always been about sharing my joy and deepening the creative expression that brings me alive and opens my heart.

In 1990, I began studying music intensively with Bill Douglas at The Naropa Institute (later Naropa University). At the same time, through a set of auspicious circumstances, I was able to begin teaching a number of different African and world music classes there and I also founded and started teaching at a community studio dedicated to world music. During that time, I began and completed work on a Masters degree in ethnomusicology under the auspices of master percussionist and dedicated peace activist John Galm. This period of my life was filled with a rich and remarkable blend of both teaching and learning. At the same time I was being mentored by extraordinary teachers, I was able to turn around and share what I was learning with a wide variety of students, both at the university level and also the greater community of children and adults. This combination of learning and teaching together not only deepened my own love of learning but greatly informed my educational philosophy and teaching style.

For the past 20 years, I’ve been developing curricula and teaching music, traditional art, digital media and transformative leadership at a small K-12 school on Oahu. My students’ art and music is visible in a number of places on the web. ULShoots is a student photography blog and the ULSMedia YouTube channel has student photography, films and music performances as well as a good number of my music compositions written specifically for these film and video projects. Even though I don’t teach the class anymore, the Lab School Funk Band’s YouTube channel is still getting hits on many of their most popular covers. Until COVID, I also taught adult calligraphy, painting and photography classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

I’m currently writing leadership curriculum (Transforming Ecosocial Leadership) and a corresponding guidebook (Field Guide to Transformative Leadership: Visionary Education in the Regenerative, Integral Era) while continuing to work on supporting the integration of contemplative and appreciative, inquiry-based education in K-21 classrooms. The website The Contemplative Educator is devoted to this work.