Volume control and over enthusiastic audiences

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  • #7664
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    From: “Ms Jenny STORY”

    Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2017 18:30:26 +0800


    Hi everyone,

    You know what they say about kids being really honest? Well, my 2 children have always attended my storytelling sessions. They are my biggest supporters and also my harshest critics. There is no concern about offending the storyteller since the storyteller is also Mummy.

    Yesterday I had a session with a group of kindergartners. My daughter’s feedback after the session was that I was really loud. I knew I was speaking louder than usual because there were a few little ones who kept coming up to me during the telling to “contribute” to the story. I believe they were a little over enthusiastic and without realising it, I probably tried to be louder than them so I could be heard.
    My question is how do I know if I AM TOO LOUD? I was so glad I declined using the mic provided. Everyone would have gone deaf if I had used it! Ha!Ha!
    I usually welcome interaction with the audience and most oftentimes would add some interaction parts into my stories; my absolute favourite is tweaking the story to include food and asking for local food, which always get a good laugh. However, I would also like the interactive part to be in control so it doesn’t spoil the flow of the story. All the kids are with their parents so getting some interaction going with both kids and parents are really good. What would you do with these over enthusiastic little audiences?
    Tips greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
    -Jenny
    #7667
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    From: “Denise McCormack”
    Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2017 16:06:56 +0000 (UTC)

    Jenny,
    At the beginning of a program with children who are apt to be disruptive and even to address the adults who attend to them, I announce that I am a storyteller, that I tell stories, that I do not have a rewind button, and that storytelling is a conversation — it involves telling and listening, which makes them very important. I also call the adults to order and assure them that the stories are for them as well.

    In short, I go over the rules and expectations.

    I keep to a conversational tone, and I do use a microphone if one is available–I request one ahead of time. Alternatively, I have a small portable system with a headset and clip which is helpful for audiences of 50 or less participants.
    The microphone is a great asset because whispers and other subtle variations to voice enhance the telling while insuring that all can hear them.

    Denise

    Denise McCormack, M.ED.

    There is a story for every time and purpose under heaven.

    http://www.MagicWords101.com
    … because the right words can do magic! And so can a little laughter!
    Owner: Denise McCormack, LLC.
    MagicWords101; DM Corporate Coaching
    NJ State Liaison, National Storytelling Network
    Board Member, NJ Storytelling Festival
    President, Patchwork Storytelling Guild in Philadelphia

    #7668
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    From: “Cassandra Wye”
    Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 10:02:10 +0800

    Hi Jenny
    Gosh – how can an audience be over enthusiastic?
    I don’t think I have ever met an audience that was over enthusiastic!
    I did not realise there were rules on how much enthusiasm in storytelling was allowed 🙂
    Interesting.
    Perhaps you might take the alternative approach and discuss with your daughter what she meant by too loud?
    That perhaps she isn’t used to people projecting their voice – and that this is part of mum’s job to be louder than at home because you are speaking to a lot of people at once?
    Perhaps it may have been your tone of voice – its easy when we are struggling for our voices to go slightly shrill – I go “strangled Mary Poppins” – which isn’t a good sound
    But when `I hear it – I make my voice smile and my vocal chords relax
    I hardly ever use a mike and I doubt I adopt a conversational tone – I am performing
    That way you learn how to be visually present and so audiences listen to you and not to the microphone..
    And I don’t think I know the rule about being quiet when telling stories either …
    If you ask for contributions from the audience then they WILL contribute and possibly not in the way you intended!
    Guidelines are good such as “hands up” if you have an idea or “no sorry I can only listen to one person at a time”
    So they learnt about listening as well aa speaking, turn taking etc – which are tricky concepts for kinders
    For me – its about audience management and learning how to attune myself to the audience and how to attune them to me so we can then tell a story together
    But I would probably hazard a guess that your daughter would think be too loud too!
    But thats Ok – maybe she would like to sit further back?
    Just ny thoughts

    Best Wishes
    Cassandra

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    From: “Ms Jenny STORY”
    Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 17:54:50 +0800

    Thank you for the prompt responses and advice everyone. I have never thought of using a mic before as I thought that holding a mic in one hand will restrict my hand movements but I really do like the idea that with a mic, whispers can be heard by everyone, even those at the back of the room. I never thought of it that way. Thanks Denise.

    As for zipping their lips, unlocking their ears and having parents to help, I think I will need to do more of that in my future telling, Rituparna. What do you think of having kids sit on their parents’ laps? In my last telling where we have about 20 plus kids and parents, most were sitting on their parents’ laps and it was much better. However, I am always worried that those sitting at the back of the room will not be able to see me well since they are being blocked by the parent in front of them.

    I am a teacher so by the nature of the profession, I do have the ability for “big voices” and hopefully, “small voices” too – ha!ha! Yes Cassandra, come to think of it, I do have that “strangled Mary Poppins” voice on most occasions when these interruptions happened. It happens when I am teaching in class too when I get interrupted. I will take note of that, tone down and relax. My ever helpful daughter volunteers to sit in the front row the next time and give me subtle hand signals when I am too loud, just like those given by the musicians to the crew manning the PA system.

    Thank you everyone for your tips and advice. I will surely try all of them out in my next telling and also in my classroom teaching. Once again, thank you and lovely day to you all!

    -Jenny

    #7670
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    From: “Barra the Bard”
    Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 12:19:01 -0500

    Jenny,

    About the mic—from your last email, I get the impression you are thinking of a hand-held mic. You can use a lavelier or clip-on mic, which is my preference whenever possible. As to brand names, I can’t help you, not actually owning amplification myself, although others on the list can and will, if you ask.

    It can be a challenge to move outside one’s comfort zone, but usually well worth it! Case in point: as a beginning teller, I realized that I didn’t know what to do with my hands. Once I was aware of that, I spent a solid year working on it. So, off to the Ligonier Highland Games—and I woke up with vertigo! Had to spend the day with one hand on my husband’s shoulder as we walked, so I wouldn’t be staggering as if I’d had a few too many drams…. and when I did tell both times, found myself feeling nailed to the stage, afraid to move for fear of staggering or triggering extreme nausea. What gestures I used were minimal and very small, although I suppose they looked more natural in consequence (some of my new gestures, in retrospect, looked like a cross between a demented octopus and a Dutch windmill in a high wind). it so happened that I’d been asked to tell a story at the ceilkdh that evening. Unfortunately, I’d chosen to do my signature tale, “Granny, the Giant Piper & the Root Cellar” which involved my sitting on the edge of a chair and raising my eyes from the floor to up over my head (to indicate the giant looming over me). Oh, my stomach! And taking the large step down from the dais, my heel caught in the hem of my long dress, almost pitching me on my head, just to make things complete in the Memorable Gigs I’d Rather Not Have Had category.

    To get back to the mic issue: this list is a valuable and varied resource for many tips on how to integrate a hand-held mic into your performance. I don’t even think about it anymore, except to (regretfully) omit some props. Or else I set the hand-held on a stand so my hands are free for that story, then pick up the mic for the rest of the program. Like so many aspects of telling, it depends on the story, the venue, and the audience.
    –Barra

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    From: “Smith, Nick”
    Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 17:31:40 +0000

    If you don’t want to hold things in your hands, then it’s time to invest in a wireless microphone.

    It’s true that a hand-held mike restricts your ability to move and gesture, and when telling for children, that’s a big problem.

    Also, with a wireless mike, not only do you get amplification, but you don’t have to worry about tripping over the microphone cord.

    It is also possible to use a microphone on a stand, but if you want to move around a lot, that becomes a problem.

    –Nick Smith

    #7672
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    From: “Margaret Schwallie”
    Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 13:12:03 -0500

    My husband and I did puppet stories, and of course we had more children than parents. He also did a magic act. We learned at the beginning of the show, so of like a warm-up, to let the kids know of the puppets rules and the magic rules. We figured out the line of sight, if you really want to see everything, you need to stay between these two line. Otherwise, it is hard to see everything. That was a practical thing, it also kept kids from coming up to see the magic close up! There was a front line as well. That helped the kids not look into the puppet stage! We explained that the puppets and the magic just refuse to work when someone is outside of the lines. The last ‘rule’ was to let the parents know that we don’t mind if they come forward to get the child.

    The first and only time that three heads appeared in the puppet screen, the puppets just stopped. One of the puppets, mine, asked them what they were doing. Would they please sit down so that the play could continue?

    And my husband would stop his act when someone started to get to close. Just stop, freeze in place, until the child went back.

    And for telling the story, we always used the time honored request- if you have heard this story before, please be quiet while I tell it. We don’t want to ruin it for everyone else, do we? Or, I just might tell it in a different way, so listen to see where I am different.

    Good luck, have fun, you will find your technique.

    Mags

    #7673
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    From: “Mary Garrett”
    Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2017 09:20:43 -0600

    Those are very sensible and courteous guidelines.

    As for “too loud,” much as I envy those with extremely strong voices, I am not shy about covering my ears if things get too loud, uncomfortable, and dangerous to one’s hearing. I have earplugs handy if mics are too “hot” as I’d like to keep on hearing.

    I once told for a scout troop, and the mother who hired me said her children were worried that I’d be like a “scary storyteller” they heard at school. I couldn’t figure out who it was, but it seemed the issue was volume, not content. I told the little girl that I didn’t plan to be scary, and that if she thought I was, she had permission to call out, “Mary, I’m scared” and I’d stop whatever was scaring her. After, she smiled and said she’d not been scared at all. Children are upset by the most unexpected things, so I try to tell them the shoes pointing opposite directions trick for keeping bad things away.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri
    http://www.storytellermary.com/

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632

    #7674
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    From: “Ms Jenny STORY”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 23:46:38 +0800

    Again, thank you everyone for the valuable input. A “front line” that no one should cross sounds great. IT IS an imaginary line, I presume and not a real one that you actually put on the floor? It is quite disturbing when little ones come up to your face and try to talk to you in the middle of a story. I will need to work on those management techniques more. I hope an invitation will come again soon so I can test out all the suggestions given.

    BTW, Mary, what’s the “shoes pointing opposite directions trick for keeping bad things away”?

    And everyone, what are your thoughts on children sitting on parents’ laps while listening as opposed to them sitting on their own while parents sit at the side? Personally I would prefer that little ones should be on their parents’ laps but worry that the adults will block the view. What do you think?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Administrator.
    #7676
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    From: “Mary Garrett”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:24:06 -0600

    Jackie Torrence taught us that shoes pointing two different directions confuse and keep away anything that might want to bother you, and if it’s very scary, get parents’ shoes — bigger. I realized years later how smart those Appalachian parents are . . . if your shoes show up “protecting” a child’s bed, you know to ask what’s bothering your child. I tend not to be scary, but if I’m present when children are scared, I make a point of teaching them the trick, and delight in the look of relief on their little faces.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri
    http://www.storytellermary.com/

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632

    #7677
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    From: “Judith Heineman”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:30:50 -0600

    Dear Ms. Jenny,
    I am coming a bit late to this conversation, but wanted to answer a few other questions you posed.
    1) The dear departed Kathryn Windham used to say after telling one of her glorious ghost stories to place slippers or shoes by one’s bedside, pointing in opposite directions to confuse the spirits and thus avoid harm, should anyone be frightened by her stories. I often use that saying.

    2) Imaginary or real line. Both!!
    When I have told stories to a very crowded library room as part of a reading program, the librarians had put down blue tape to define the seating area before I came!
    I often bring a large colorful fabric and spread it out as a “front row” for the little ones to sit on. That creates a comfortable distance for me.

    3) I like very little ones to sit in their parents’ laps on the floor. This contains those who may want to run around and it helps parents engage with their kids. Lots more bonding benefits-

    All the best.
    As ever,
    Judith
    Judith Heineman
    Storyteller
    Chicago and New York
    312-925-0439
    http://www.judithanddan.com

    #7682
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    From: “Mary Garrett”
    Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2017 09:20:43 -0600

    Those are very sensible and courteous guidelines.

    As for “too loud,” much as I envy those with extremely strong voices, I am not shy about covering my ears if things get too loud, uncomfortable, and dangerous to one’s hearing. I have earplugs handy if mics are too “hot” as I’d like to keep on hearing.

    I once told for a scout troop, and the mother who hired me said her children were worried that I’d be like a “scary storyteller” they heard at school. I couldn’t figure out who it was, but it seemed the issue was volume, not content. I told the little girl that I didn’t plan to be scary, and that if she thought I was, she had permission to call out, “Mary, I’m scared” and I’d stop whatever was scaring her. After, she smiled and said she’d not been scared at all. Children are upset by the most unexpected things, so I try to tell them the shoes pointing opposite directions trick for keeping bad things away.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri
    http://www.storytellermary.com/

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632

    #7687
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    From: “Ms Jenny STORY”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 23:46:38 +0800

    Again, thank you everyone for the valuable input. A “front line” that no one should cross sounds great. IT IS an imaginary line, I presume and not a real one that you actually put on the floor? It is quite disturbing when little ones come up to your face and try to talk to you in the middle of a story. I will need to work on those management techniques more. I hope an invitation will come again soon so I can test out all the suggestions given.

    BTW, Mary, what’s the “shoes pointing opposite directions trick for keeping bad things away”?

    And everyone, what are your thoughts on children sitting on parents’ laps while listening as opposed to them sitting on their own while parents sit at the side? Personally I would prefer that little ones should be on their parents’ laps but worry that the adults will block the view. What do you think?

    #7688
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    From: “Mary Garrett”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:24:06 -0600

    Jackie Torrence taught us that shoes pointing two different directions confuse and keep away anything that might want to bother you, and if it’s very scary, get parents’ shoes — bigger. I realized years later how smart those Appalachian parents are . . . if your shoes show up “protecting” a child’s bed, you know to ask what’s bothering your child. I tend not to be scary, but if I’m present when children are scared, I make a point of teaching them the trick, and delight in the look of relief on their little faces.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri
    http://www.storytellermary.com/

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632

    #7689
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    From: “Judith Heineman”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:30:50 -0600

    Dear Ms. Jenny,

    I am coming a bit late to this conversation, but wanted to answer a few other questions you posed.
    1) The dear departed Kathryn Windham used to say after telling one of her glorious ghost stories to place slippers or shoes by one’s bedside, pointing in opposite directions to confuse the spirits and thus avoid harm, should anyone be frightened by her stories. I often use that saying.

    2) Imaginary or real line. Both!!
    When I have told stories to a very crowded library room as part of a reading program, the librarians had put down blue tape to define the seating area before I came!
    I often bring a large colorful fabric and spread it out as a “front row” for the little ones to sit on. That creates a comfortable distance for me.

    3) I like very little ones to sit in their parents’ laps on the floor. This contains those who may want to run around and it helps parents engage with their kids. Lots more bonding benefits-

    All the best.
    As ever,
    Judith
    Judith Heineman
    Storyteller
    Chicago and New York
    312-925-0439
    http://www.judithanddan.com

    #7690
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    From: “Michael J Bennett”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 13:59:02 -0600

    When my daughter was little and got scared at night, I would convince her that a piece of lumber, like a 6 inch block from a 2×4, was the greatest monster deterrent ever. Any creature who saw such a thing would exclaim “The little girl who lives here can do *that* to a tree? I’m outta here.” Later, when vampires became worrisome, a jar of garlic salt from the dollar store was added to the arsenal.

    With the shoes, point the toes of the left shoe to the north and point the right shoe south. Any creature or ghost sees the shoes, doesn’t know which way to follow, and doesn’t know what to think. Descartes said I think therefore I am. If the creature doesn’t know what to think, poof! it disappears with a little pop.

    I once told a story to a young friend and didn’t find out until much later that it had really bothered him ever since. Part of being on the autism spectrum. So, I retold the story with an emphasis on how the Army Corps of Engineers when in with tanks and microscopes and ground-penetrating radar, and could never find so much as a trace. No DNA evidence, nothing. They determined that the guy who told the story had eaten a bad batch of chili con carne and the entire event had been a nightmare. The point was, to give him peace of mind, the monster had to be obliterated.

    He’s currently raking my front yard. Good kid.

    Michael J Bennett

    #7691
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    From: “Mary Garrett”
    Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2017 18:11:36 -0600

    Jackie Torrence said all has to be safe at the end, “and no one ever saw that . . . . again.” We can tell scary stuff as long as we bring them home safely. I watched Roberta Simpson Brown revise the ending of Rain Thing to fit a younger audience — parents home just in time to save her. <3

    I was telling someone recently about your revision of Harry Potter, with magical creatures not dead, but gathered together, sharing stories of their adventures. Storytellers have the ability to customize the story for the listeners’ needs. Parents can add what they need to add to books (but better use post-its in library books 😉

    BTW, I was slow to figure out the significance of Dumbledore’s Phoenix’s name. It took seeing a post about Guy Fawkes Day . . . slow but finally got it, like my student who finally figured out Metaphors Be With You. 😉

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri
    http://www.storytellermary.com/

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632

    #7692
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    From: “Ms Jenny STORY”
    Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2017 17:04:10 +0800

    Once again, thanks a million everyone for your experiences and advice. So far I have not told any scary stuff (so don’t need to turn any shoes, just yet) though one boy did manage to make “The Rainbow Fish” rather scary by commenting that when the Rainbow Fish pulled out his scales to give them away, he would bleed and the sharks came and ate him up!

    I told my local version of the Little Red Hen. It cooked “nasi lemak” (Malaysian food) instead of making bread and we had a good laugh from the parents as well as kids when they wanted to make chicken curry! Yikes!

    -Jenny

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