Now… how to improve performance…

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  • #7767
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    From: “Maria Gomez de la Torre”

    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 09:46:22 -0800


    Hey everyone,

    I’ve been a bit silent for a while but been reading the threads that ppl have
    been posting. Now I pose a question: last year I took Tim’s advice and hired
    a professional to videotape my presentation. I did the editing myself and
    finally broadcasted it on my youtube channel. Well quite frankly I HATED
    SEEING MYSELF ON VIDEO!!! Is just me or does anyone else feel like it’s not
    themselves up there on the screen. Now that I’ve gotten over the shock,
    where does one start? What should one look for to improve performance – or
    maybe it’s just that I’m not used to seeing myself…

    Any thoughts?
    Maria

    #7769
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    From: Richard Martin
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:52:02 +0100

    On 25 Feb 2017, at 18:46, Maria Gomez de la Torre <mariale.gtb@gmail.com> wrote:
    I HATED SEEING MYSELF ON VIDEO!!! Is just me or does anyone else feel like it’s not themselves up there on the screen.

    I’m sure it is a difficult experience for most of us at the beginning – it certainly made me feel uncomfortable! Moreover, it takes some time not only to get used to watching yourself, but also to be able to learn from what you are doing well and less well. So it is worth going back to the video and looking for strengths and weaknesses.

    Using video for promotion is another issue. As Elaine says, spending money can create a really impressive product (I’ve just seen how impressive that is, Elaine).
    OTOH our art form is one which also thrives on the unpredictability of the live performance. The manager of halbNeun Theater here in Darmstadt told me long ago that he collects all promotional videos he is sent during the year and takes them on holiday to choose new acts for the next season. His line was that he remained rather suspicious of short, professionally produced videos as highlights are only that. He wanted to see a full live show, then he knew whether this was an act which could work with an audience.
    That is the reason behind my deciding to set up the video gallery showing a wide “warts and all” range of telling to audiences. (As I put it rather sententiously, being upfront that this is amateur production, but professional storytelling!)

    So you need to consider who you are marketing to and what they want.

    Richard Martin
    **************
    The Three Suitors is the latest upload to the video gallery – over 60 folk tales available to watch:
    http://www.tellatale.eu/video.html

    #7770
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    From: Tim Sheppard
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:20:31 +0000

    Hi Maria,

    Congratulations for getting a quality video done!

    I think you have two issues mixed together here:
    You don’t like seeing yourself on video – that’s really common, and it means you can’t tell whether you come across well to viewers of your video. The video may or may not show you at your best, even if it’s been shot professionally, especially if you felt self-conscious about being filmed. The question is – how well do you really come across on the video? You’ll need to ask a few people, or all of us on the list, to watch it and give you feedback. I suggest you be specific in your questions for those viewers – what exactly do you want to know? What are your fears? Does anyone else even notice the things that make you cringe (don’t tell anyone what they are, just ask open questions about that topic).

    The second factor is improving your live storytelling performance. You simply don’t know at the moment whether that’s even necessary. Okay everyone could and should improve, but if your audiences are enjoying your performance there’s no need to feel embarrassed at it. Here’s a simple fact from psychology: other people only notice our faults and characteristics 50% as much as we ourselves do. So you are doubling the importance of faults you notice about yourself. But there are two things you can do to improve, depending on which of the above seems to be the issue.

    First, if you aren’t coming across well in some way on the video itself, then you could use a director as an outside eye to help improve your stage presence, your use of gesture, the visual experience for the viewer, etc. Videographers often are no good at this, and just film what you do – and not always well. It takes someone with a sense of theatre and some visual creativity, even if your storytelling style is non-theatrical. I used to do this with my storytelling company, giving the storytellers an outside eye so that they could come across in the best way in performance.

    Secondly, if your storytelling skills and expression do need improving, you can use a storytelling coach to work on those aspects. That takes some inner work and outer work – how you relate to your stories, how you pace and express them; and how you relate to your audience, how you create the magic of storytelling with them. There are a few such coaches around, and I’m one of them – I love to help people BE a storyteller rather than just DOING storytelling. It’s a psychological journey, with a lot of subtlety, but again an outside eye can spot what really matters better than you can yourself.

    So – take a next step and get some new eyes on what you have so far. You’ll probably be very pleasantly surprised!

    Tim

    #7771
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    From: Elaine
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:37:31 -0700

    Hi Maria:

    As a physical performer, videotape is the only way to communicate my work to my prospects. I spent lots of time and money having my live shows taped by professional videographers. And I always felt that it never communicated what I do. So last year, I hired a top videographer to tape in a studio with at least two cameras, and that is what’s important. In a studio you have total control over lighting and sound. You usually do three takes with a long shot, a head shot, and a mid-range shot, with another camera to tape certain accents. What’s more it is worth the money to have a professional editor do the work. Now, unless I become an overnight sensation, I will probably never do this again, as it is VERY expensive. I spent 8K to get an excellent product. In the end, I am happy I did it. Here’s a snippet of a promo he did:

    Elaine Muray
    Storyteller/Educator
    “Nothing changes until something moves.”….Albert Einstein
    Read my Whirling Words blog, sign up for my occasional newsletter and learn about programs and what’s happening in the world of storytelling at http://www.embodiedvoicestoryarts.com.

    #7772
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    From: “Maria Gomez de la Torre”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:13:01 -0800

    Thanks all for the advice.

    Elaine – that video is really impressive – I can understand why it was so
    expensive. I did my own editing cause of budget issues and I had previously
    worked at a press office as a video editor for two years. I learned a lot
    and am familiar with editing programs.
    And I really did felt like Richard – it was really uncomfortable and yes I
    was totally self-concious I was being filmed which I think is why I don’t
    feel like it’s me on that video.

    Tim – I’m going to follow your advice again and ask you all for help.
    Couching would be wonderful but believe it or not, I’m the only storyteller
    in my area (which is saying a lot – the city where I’m currently living is
    the second largest city in the country). Last year, when I tried to pull off
    my storytelling festival and putting effort to round up a bunch of
    storytellers, I found out that it was just me. :/ – and people in the theater
    industry here are scarce.
    Okay – here goes: this is a bit embarrassing but I’m attaching the link to
    one of my videos (this is a Spanish performance – a charity presentation I
    did for children who live in high-poverty areas). From there anyone can
    access other videos. I would really like to know what you think: how does it
    with regards to body and facial expression – the use of voice – does it
    look natural? just be straight forward and honest (I believe truth can hurt
    but it doesn’t offend). I wouldn’t worry if you don’t understand Spanish, I
    think I’m going to just focus now on the form rather than on the story
    itself.

    Thanx for all your help!!!
    Maria

    #7773
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    From: “Maria Gomez de la Torre”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:16:00 -0800

    Now that I remember, I recorded an audio for a friend who wanted to hear a
    story from me. It was worse than the video – at least here, there was an
    audience who responded. The audio was down right bad – totally unnatural and
    empty.

    #7774
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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:09:25 +0000

    Elaine, having seen you perform live, I have to say that this snippet does give a good overview of what you do, but you’re right, that’s a painful amount to spend.

    I think that storytelling is more difficult to film than, say, a musical performance is, because it’s more difficult to convey all of the nuances in a story performance.

    For the concert series I book, musicians send me links to videos all of the time, and what I’m looking for there is the quality of the musical performance and the quality of the interaction with the audience. I think that the second of these is what is lacking from most storytelling promotional videos, which is why some of them across as dry and detached. They’re like watching a performance on TV, rather than through a window, if that makes sense. I’d rather have that sense that the performer is telling to someone other than just a camera, but maybe that’s just me.

    –Nick Smith

    #7775
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    From: Fran Stallings
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:26:09 -0600

    I think Nick’s point about audience interaction is important when we need video to convince a potential sponsor. A second camera to show audience response would be lovely!

    We have more leeway if the goal is simply to transmit a story, for instance for teachers to share with their classes (if we can’t come in person); or for sharing with colleagues. Perhaps there, a single camera in a quiet studio will do.

    Fran

    #7776
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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:00:53 +0000

    One of my favorite musical performers did a live show in a recording studio, with a small, invited audience. That permitted high quality audio recording, but also the emotional feeling of singing directly to an audience.

    It worked quite well. I don’t know if any storytellers have done anything similar, but another musician will be doing a webcast concert next week that will also have a small live audience.

    –Nick Smith

    #7777
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    From: Jeff Gere
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:07:54 -1000

    Hi All,

    Oh, I’ve done so so so much storytelling video. I think it is key to ‘Getting Bigger’!
    Marie, the camera does not lie (and it removes lotsa energy, makes a tell flatter).
    Editing myself has helped me eliminate some bad habits (or tho come to value them).
    I wish more storytellers used video to inform them about their stage presence.
    Every cell phone these days has the capacity to make a hi-def recording.

    NOW TAKE A LOOK
    I’ve sent out links before to some 20 Margaret Read MacDonald videos done here.
    She was told: ‘look into the camera with the red light on (hot one) as you tell.’
    There were three cameras in a studio, no audience, slow cut edits. It worked well.

    Pickin’ Peas (4:53) https://youtu.be/zSlEaHQys_E

    Parley Garfield and the Frogs (3:34) https://youtu.be/Iei0C6e1uC8

    Here I tell a kid’s story (piano player behind me) into one hand-held camera
    Zipper Hero (older boy’s humor deflates embarassment, 4:45 min.)

    Part of the Talk Story Festival in Honolulu was a 3 or 4 camera shoot of the live
    show, the video projected on the wall beside the stage as the teller performed.
    No looking at the lens here, but lotsa dynamic video and a live(ly) crowd energy.
    I installed theatrical lighting & got a creative light guy to color the tales too.
    And a pro sound man. I aired them for decades monthly and learned to edit.
    Here is a short story told by me at Talk Story in this way.

    Grandma? (a little boy sees her ghost, 2:39)

    Once in Maui I had a 3 piece band and 3 cameras. I made sure to look
    into the cameras when I wanted to ‘speak directly (in)to the viewer’.
    After all (I reasoned) you gotta look somewhere when talking live to an audience.
    Take a look- longish but it illustrates the point. Sometimes I speak to YOU!

    C.C. Camp (2 shorts, & man meets Menehune, Hawaii’s 1st people, 11:20 min)

    So there’s some illustrations of different storytelling video.
    I’m enjoying this discussion. Attach links.

    Aloha,
    Jeff Gere

    #7778
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    From: robert kanegis
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:29:15 -0800

    Oops. Sent before finishing…Buber said, “all true living is encounter” How do you capture or convey the living mess of a storytelling encounter on video? I think audio probably gets closer than video. So much to be distracted by the eye. That said, the visual element is integral for some performers. But certainly when I think of marvelous storytelling performances I’ve witnessed through the years it’s the live performances I remember. Never videotaped ones. Still, I suppose, since they are more and more required,one tries to get as close as you can. I do think that venues are missing out on some top notch performers with their increasing insistence on video samples

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Feb 25, 2017, at 1:29 PM, robert kanegis <bobkanegis@icloud.com> wrote:

    One of my guiding quotes is from Martín Buber , wh said that

    Sent from my iPhone

    #7779
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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:50:48 +0000

    Bob, you may be right, but from both library work and concert series operation, I’ve learned that a video is the simplest substitute for seeing a performer live in performance. Just an audio recording can be misleading.

    An old acquaintance, Bob Stane, who has produced music and spoken word performances for over fifty years, always emphasizes that the job of a performer is to entertain the audience that’s actually in front of them. A technically perfect performance that leaves the audience not entertained is, in fact, a failure. I think he’s right.

    Back when I was first learning how to tell a story, I attended a couple of performances by one particular teller who had also recorded a collection of his stories. I quickly realized that his performance on stage was exactly like his studio recording, including every little nuance. As a result, his performance was actually very dry, and had no life to it. There was no reason to ever hear one of his stories a second time. By comparison, I also attended performances by another performer who, while very theatrical, let his performances breathe just a bit, and interacted just a tad with his audience. The difference was very interesting, and it was the second one that I hired for events a few years later.

    It’s the same way with musicians. The board of the concert series I work with has sometimes commented that they’ve seen a performer who is technically very good, but has so little connection with the audience that they don’t want to put that performer on stage.

    –Nick Smith

    #7780
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    From: robert kanegis
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 15:09:21 -0800′

    nick. To your first point about a video being the best way short of watching a live performance, how would you rate a well thought out and expressed testimonial from a colleague you knew and respected? Or for that matter a series of such written testimonials?

    Sent from my iPhone

    #7781
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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 23:23:25 +0000

    It depends on the circumstances, and unfortunately, testimonials can be a bit of a risk. I have written them myself, upon occasion, but it doesn’t mean that the information in the testimonial will give the recipient all the information they need, or be good for all circumstances, forever.

    For instance, suppose I wrote a glowing testimonial of a traditional Irish band that rarely tours the U.S. Five years later, they make another tour, but they’ve changed three out of the five members, and are now writing most of their own music. Another venue sees my glowing review and gives them a try, but their audience doesn’t like the new sound. How helpful was my testimonial?

    For the concert series, we have used testimonials, back in the days before YouTube videos were obtainable. Same thing for a teaching festival where I was hiring storytellers, once or twice based purely on audio recordings. Mostly, this worked.

    On the other hand, one of the worst fiascos we ever had in the concert series was in hiring someone where we had no recent live footage or viewing, and she had a very good list of testimonials from people we trusted. The problem was that she had changed her act drastically, and her new performance was very different and just wasn’t as good. So, basically, the testimonials were obsolete, rather than deliberately misleading.

    –Nick Smith

    #7782
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    From: “kwanza theteller”
    Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 05:22:28 +0000 (UTC)

    in a panel about (music) touring a few years ago, some artistic directors suggested that as an artist/performer with a product – meaning a recording, i.e. an album or cd (it was in 2003) festival directors, managers, or promoters encourage bands, artist, or performers to have a new “product” every 2 and a half to 3 years, at least. one, it shows you are out there working; two, you have material(s) that is/are current.

    granted, one of their main goals is to support and help promote the artists/bands/performers’ music, but it also helps them create an image as a festival that seeks and presents artists whose work is relevant and up to speed with the times and social issues. keeping this in mind, and nick’s point, posting videos of updated repertoire or what one does regularly makes more sense than posting videos of performances from, say, ten or 6 years ago, just to pick some arbitrary numbers.

    kwanza.

    http://greatkwanzini.wix.com/kwanzathestoryteller

    https://www.facebook.com/kwanzatheteller
    ______________________________

    sTORIES mAKE tHE wORD gO ‘RoUNd

    #7783
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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 18:16:15 +0000

    Yes, in the music field, keeping a flow of recordings or other merchandise is important, but not only for those reasons. Merchandise is both promotional and part of the musician’s income flow. Storytellers never did that to as great an extent.

    I think there is a significant difference in the way that people listen to music as opposed to stories. For music, there are a lot of listeners who want to hear things with which they are already familiar, which is the basis for things like “oldies” or “classic rock” radio stations.

    I don’t think that’s true as much for stories, which may be one of the reasons why storytelling CD sales are typically lower than those for music.

    At our concert series, we have audience members who will buy ANY new merchandise which has come out since the performer’s last appearance. Favorites return every 2-3 years to series like ours, so if they haven’t come out with anything new in that time period, then they’re missing out on sales. So that is a major reason for that suggested time period that Kwanza mentions.

    –Nick Smith

    #7784
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    From: “Granny Sue”
    Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 20:27:08 +0000 (UTC)

    I can’t recall who started this thread, and I’m late to the conversation, but I remember well something I learned from Mary Shallbetter who used to be on this list. She told me that she takes herself out of the mix–it is the story flowing through to the audience. She also told me she said a prayer before every performance, asking God’s help to make it as good as it could possible be for the audience. I am more of a spiritual than religious person, but what she said made sense.

    I have followed her advice ever since and can attest to its effect. It makes me quit worrying about me and focusing all my love and heart on those in front of me. And that, in the end, is what storytelling is all about for me.

    Granny Sue
    Stories from the Mountains and Beyond
    909 Railey Ridge
    Sandyville, WV 25275
    toll free 866-643-1353
    susannaholstein@yahoo.com
    http://www.grannysu.blogspot.com
    http://mountainpoet.wordpress.com
    http://puppetsforlibraries.wordpress.com
    http://www.amazon.com/shops/raileyridge

    #7785
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    From: “kwanza theteller”
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:04:12 +0000 (UTC)

    you make good points, nick. particularly, the the idea of distinguishing between telling to an audience as compared to a camera. i come from a tradition where storytelling is an interactive and participatory activity. it will be awkward to say to a camera, for instance, “do you know what happened next?” as the question usually elicits some kind of response from the audience. a camera is not going to do that. unless, the camera crew or somebody among them say, “no, what happened next?” or simply, “what happened?” or just yell, “tell us!”

    once i tried having somebody video tape me telling so he could try his new camera. i looked into the camera and spoke. rather than telling to the camera, staring into the lens and speak at it, i attempted to “interacted” with an imaginary audience. i didn’t want it to be a story told by a tv newscaster. so i looked at various parts of the room at different times as though i was talking to actual people. i asked the couple people in the room to laugh, chuckle, and otherwise react naturally as they would when hearing someone tell a story at a party or live telling. it kind of worked but it was still a challenge.

    in my view, the key is really to be natural. most people tend to get self conscious when they know a camera is rolling. even bands and live performers act different when they know they are being video recorded so trying to behave “normal” is suddenly a challenge and all sorts of awkward mannerism come out. thereis also the awareness

    kwanza.

    http://greatkwanzini.wix.com/kwanzathestoryteller

    https://www.facebook.com/kwanzatheteller
    ______________________________

    sTORIES mAKE tHE wORD gO ‘RoUNd

    #7786
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    From: Elaine
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 12:31:48 -0700

    I agree with you Nick. I think the best thing to do is send a live one AND a studio one. The studio one will convey the quality of your performance in the best conditions (no air conditioners, inappropriate comments, trucks driving by) and will make you look good on camera. The live is to show interaction. When I’ve just submitted the live, the video production quality distraction took precedence over the attention to interaction.In other words, people noticed MORE that the video was bad in the live piece, than they noticed that there was no audience in the studio piece. It’s hard to undo a negative impression. My experience.

    Elaine Muray
    Storyteller/Educator
    “Nothing changes until something moves.”….Albert Einstein
    Read my Whirling Words blog, sign up for my occasional newsletter and learn about programs and what’s happening in the world of storytelling at http://www.embodiedvoicestoryarts.com.

    #7787
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    From: Elaine
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:21:15 -0700

    There’s a lot of things that can be interjected in a studio produced video, including the audience, animal sounds, music, etc.

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    #7788
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    From: Elaine
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:22:35 -0700

    I think you should do both to cover all bases.

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    #7789
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    From: i-tell@juno.com
    Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:08:49 GMT

    The big thing you have to remember when you are recording anything, CD or video, is that you DO NOT have that audience out there to carry you, and you have to tell deferentially than a live performance. When I cut my first CD, I took the scratch disk home and listened and thought it was the worst collection I had ever heard. After spending three hours at $75 an hour (a long time ago) I went back the next day and told them to scratch everything. I had been in the recording booth and watching the tech marking the recordings and it was BAD! I just closed my eyes and told my story that I knew how to tell and it came out fine.Don’t try to fake the audience response. Just get there and TELL!

    Steve Otto
    http://www.i-tell.net

    Storytelling is NOT for Some people
    It’s for ALL people

    #7790
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    From: “JillLamede”
    Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 11:01:26 -0500

    Fascinating debate! It has really made me think…
    My videos on my website and YouTube are proving to be very valuable in helping me to get bookings… but I think my style of telling is different to most of you. Despite having been an actress all my working life, my storytelling style is very non-theatrical.

    Only one of my videos had a professional cameraman – and that was done years ago for free, in the lunch break of a professional TV workshop. The rest are distinctly amateur, shot in my own home.
    I use a small video camera that uses cassette tapes, and a decent microphone that I bought on Ebay for £1.
    The camera has a small monitor attached that can be swiveled around so that I can see it while filming.
    This allows me to treat that tiny image as my audience, and, as I speak to myself, it looks as though I am talking straight to camera.

    I have tried doing the same with an iPad…. but it doesn’t work. I can’t get the same eye-contact effect and the sound is poor. I haven’t tried with my desktop PC yet.

    In my videos I am trying to achieve a basic TV performance so that I am engaging directly with the viewer and getting them involved with the story.

    Recording a cd presents different problems. Storytelling without eye-contact, natural pauses and visual clues is a different artform. I find I need to write the story as a script for a dramatic reading. This allows me to play with the technicalities of using a microphone. It is a much more intimate way of telling and there can be more use of vocal skills in creating the atmosphere. I love doing this and have recorded many audiobooks for the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

    But… back to the matter of videos… sometimes a potential booker asks if I include audience participation. I always answer, ‘Yes… the children participate by being held in total attentive silence and stillness from the very first opening words.’ And I then ask the booker to have a look at my videos. They always come back and say, ‘I see what you mean… I was absolutely riveted – the children will love you.’

    So, while I would love to have the assistance of a professional cameraman again, amateur videos can do the trick for my style of intimate, low key, storytelling.

    Best wishes

    Jill
    The Tintagel Storyteller

    #7791
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    From: “Granny Sue”
    Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:45:17 +0000 (UTC)

    I am very much the same style in my telling, Jill. I call it front-porch style. My goal is to have a conversation with my audience. I provide words and images and they provide emotion, understanding, enchantment, laughter, and communion with each other through eyes, smiles, and body language. That’s the best way I know how to describe what I do. I use participation techniques with children quite often, too, but spiritual/ mental participation is just as effective as physical participation.

    Granny Sue
    Stories from the Mountains and Beyond
    909 Railey Ridge
    Sandyville, WV 25275
    toll free 866-643-1353
    susannaholstein@yahoo.com
    http://www.grannysu.blogspot.com
    http://mountainpoet.wordpress.com
    http://puppetsforlibraries.wordpress.com
    http://www.amazon.com/shops/raileyridge

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