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 gifts 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 and creative expression that I’m inspired to do every day are my way of appreciating and participating in this mysterious, unfolding experience we call life.

Currently, my creative energy is focused on composing music for contemplative spaces (Meditations), writing leadership curriculum (Transforming Ecosocial Leadership) and a visionary guidebook that imagines the education structures that will contribute to the transformation of human systems and the regeneration of our biosphere (Cultivating Eco-Social Literacy: Re-imagining Education for the Regenerative, Integral Era). (See Ecosocial Literacy on this website.) At the same time, I continue to practice and help support the integration of contemplative and appreciative, inquiry-based education in K-21 classrooms. The website The Contemplative Educator is another web space devoted to this work.

I’ve been following my creative inclinations ever since I can remember and from a very early age I’ve been sharing that excitement with others. In various roles as an educator or facilitator, 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. For me, teaching has always been about sharing my joy and helping others find and develop their own authentic, creative forms of expression.

In 1990, I began studying music intensively with Bill Douglas at 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 at the university level and also the local community of children and adults. Throughout this formative time, I also spent many days and weeks alone in contemplative retreat in pristine nature, guided by John P. Milton. These wilderness retreats transformed and deepened my relationship with the Earth and the cosmos that I had begun years before with rock climbing, river guiding and similar outdoor adventures. All of these experiences served to deepen my own love of learning and 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, social and emotional learning and transformative leadership on the island of Oahu. My K-12 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 K-12 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.