Becoming a Storyteller

“Our stories matter… Your stories matter… For you never know how much of a difference they make and to whom.”  ~ Caroline Joy Adams

Recently I participated in an inspiring workshop entitled Music of the Story with Luigi Rignanese, a storyteller visiting from France, as part of Toronto’s FOOL festival (Festival or Oral Literatures).  I stumbled into the world of storytelling some years ago, mainly hoping to weave more stories into my work as an educator.  What I discovered was a rich and diverse community of storytellers that included teachers, librarians, musicians, authors, actors, therapists and others, all sharing the beauty and magic of words and stories.  Their message was clear – everyone has a story and stories have the power to transform both tellers and listeners.  I knew the world of storytelling would open up new inner and outer worlds for me.

It is hard to describe all that I learned at the workshop.  Some ideas included: the craft and art of storytelling; the musical and expressive quality of the voice; moving and physically responding to music; using instruments effectively as part of a story; finding and telling stories that are meaningful to you; engaging each of the senses in storytelling; bringing stories to life for listeners….  Each participant had the opportunity to tell part of a story and receive constructive feedback, to consider new possibilities for their storytelling.   It was amazing to see people leave their comfort zone, take artistic risks and let the experience move them in a different direction.  After taking part in the workshop, I had the opportunity to see Luigi Rignanese perform and to see in action the ideas he shared so generously.  This You Tube video will provide a taste of what I experienced in the past few days.

Le Dragon

Storytelling is a wonderful art – one that I would like to explore more deeply, for reasons both personal and professional.  As the workshop reminded me, there are steps involved in learning skills needed for telling stories, in developing a repertoire, and in learning from established storytellers.  Over time I hope to share more resources that I find, but for those interested in learning where to start, here are a few suggestions to help you.  One article entitled ‘Effective Storytelling:  A Manual for Beginners’ can be found at http://www.eldrbarry.net/roos/eest.htm.  Tim Sheppard’s Story Links (http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/storylinks.html ) is a great place to look for legends, fables, folk tales, myths anecdotes and more.  In Toronto, those wanting to learn more about the community of storytellers,and opportunities for learning how to tell stories should become acquainted with Storytelling Toronto (http://www.storytellingtoronto.org/site/) , the Toronto Storytelling Festival (http://www.storytellingtoronto.org/toronto-storytelling-festival/), and the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program (http://www.nald.ca/mothergooseprogram/).  Remember:

“Because there is a natural storytelling urge and ability in all human beings, even just a little nurturing of this impulse can bring about astonishing and delightful results.”              ~ Nancy Mellon, The Art of Storytelling

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