Friday, October 20, 2017

Care And Feeding Of The Voice!!!!

On the road again!

I am perpetually on the road again!

This fall I am traveling, telling, teaching, and generally. doing all the things I can!

Meaning I am always on the road....again!

Yeah, I'm not a song writer.

I always use a microphone.  Always.  I have a pretty strong voice for speaking, and I can fill a space pretty well, but there is no need for it when we have such technological marvels as microphones. 

I often encounter people who are a bit annoyed by my request that the forum offer a microphone.  If they do not have a good sound system, I will bring my own, but I always ask for one.  There are some general responses when I ask for amplification.  They are as follows.

The space is not that big.

Our last performer didn't use a microphone.

There aren't that many children.

You have a pretty big voice.   

None of that has anything to do with why I want a microphone.  The fact of the matter is that a storyteller only works so long as their voice is intact.  If you over stress your vocal chords, you can cause yourself months of hurt. 

I am a trained speaker.  That means I have years of vocal training to help me get through a show if the mic should fail, but it is never my desire to power through forty five minutes of intricate vocal work while still being loud enough to be heard by two hundred people in a gymnasium, which was surely never built with acoustics perfect for a single performer.

So, with this in mind, here are some tips for those of us who work in the telling fields.  This is mostly beginner stuff, but it sometimes helps to be reminded.

1 - if you are doing something with your voice and it makes your throat a bit sore...stop.

2 - if you drink water during your set, room temperature water is best.  Your vocal chords are at their ease and move freely when they are warm.  Hitting them with cold water means you are straining them until they warm up again.  Don't fight yourself.

3 - Only you know how long it takes for your voice to recover after you hurt yourself.  Don't push it.  If you feel like you have to pull back from a story because it requires a bit more than you have, tell something else.

4 - If your throat is sore after a performance, unless you are ill, it means you are straining your vocal chords.  Get yourself a good reference book.  Better yet, contact Doug Lipman.  He should be able to point you in the right direction!

5 - Don't let someone talk you into hurting your voice.  Just because you can bring the power to fill a room doesn't mean you should.  Voices need a rest.  The older you get, the more that is true.  The microphone gives your voice more running time.  It also means you are directing less energy into the level of sound and you can devote that energy to the craft 
of the tale.

6 - Keep a supply of whatever thing makes your throat feel best with you in cold or drier months. Whether that is lozenges or gum drops.

7 - Wrap up that throat if you are out in the weather. Scarves are cool....okay, maybe not, but they can be necessities!

8 - Let it rest when you can. Listen to it when you need to. Nurse it before things get out of hand!

Fender Passport Sound System

Like I said, much of this is obvious, but every now and then, it is good to be reminded that if someone gets testy with you about amplification, it is okay to remind them that they are only getting one or two shows from you, but that is not the end of your obligations.  if you blow your voice out on Tuesday, is that fair to the four shows you have on Friday?

I am on the Road in Illinois Tonight at Dominican University!

Happy Telling!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Power of Artists In Schools: The Best Gifts!

Today marks the 50th time I've gone around the sun!

I have had some wonderful gifts.

The David traveled with me to California. That is always a treat!

I always love my birthdays. Some years I am at Jonesboro, TN at the National Storytelling festival. This year, if you want to hear what's going on, but you cannot get there, they are streaming the festival live!

Live Stream!!!

I am not at the National Festival. I am in Lodi, CA this year. I'm telling and relaxing...not at the same time.

Yesterday, I was at a school where I worked with everyone from k - 8.

The principal came up to me at the end of the day and said, "I'm already getting great feedback. The Kindergarteners left your performance and went back to their room for writing time. Some write, some draw depending on their abilities. For the first time, every kind wrote and they wrote far more than they ever had. Even the child who hasn't written anything all year, and always starts crying when it is time to write was excited and wrote without any prompting."

The gifts just keep on coming.

Today I got a chance to tell to a k-12 school, and I had one young senior who was slumped in his seat when he arrived, but perked up as the telling continued and was all in it by the end. He came up to me after the set was over and said, "You are the best storyteller I have ever heard."

I was also mobbed by an entire group of first graders who all needed hugs.

I took a nice long walk with the mister, and when I got back to the room, I found this video waiting for me.

I have been celebrating the joy of storytelling for several weeks. This video was put out by the United Arts Council of Wake County.

So, for all the joys of performing, and because there are thousands of folks gathered in TN listening to storytelling, I say what a great trip it has been around the sun!

Can't wait to see what the next 365 days will bring.

Happy Telling!