Music, Dance, Drama: Storytelling and Young Children


The art (and music) of storytelling: These pictures tell all!

This photo and the one prior are from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

During our recent Kindermusik celebration, ending the school year semester classes, we all played our drums to accompany a wonderful African story about "Spider, the Drummer" (learned from Beverly Botsford). I realized that telling a story to children can be so mesmerizing and very different from reading a story out loud to a group. This story is from the genre of "Anansi the Spider stories" from African folklore.

Add songs, chants, rhymes, dances, or musical instruments to a storytelling scene and the story experience is even more enriched! These kinds of music stories follow the important tenants of the Orff-Schulwerk Method of teaching music. Read more about this at the website: What is Orff-Schulwerk (AOSA)

I also found some interesting information on a website called "". Here's the link:

From the "Storynet" site:
"What are Americans most scared of? In second place is death. In first place is public speaking. Let's nip neurosis in the bud! ...Storytelling has all the benefits of read aloud. It improves language skills such as vocabulary, prediction, sequencing, comprehension, story structure and recall. These skills will also help children become better writers. Just as is the case with read-aloud, children who engage in the activity learn about history and culture, develop emotionally and have better self-esteem. Storytelling stimulates imagination to the nth degree. And storytelling creates a love of story that translates into a potentially life-long love of books the same way read-aloud does. 
Storytelling and read aloud must be brother and sister. Or, at least, first cousins.The difference between read aloud and storytelling ... is that the act of storytelling is always active and inventive. The child needs to synthesize all sorts of cognitive operations (brain stuff) with gross motor skills (body stuff) and emotional interpretations (feeling stuff) to execute this performance, and because of this synthesis, every performance is unique to the teller. The other difference is the connection with the audience. The eye contact alone makes storytelling a different animal than read-aloud. When you try it, you'll see."

Click the link below for a short video of Beverly Botsford giving a preview of one of her story telling gigs:

More from the "Storynet" site:
The adult storyteller is setting up a model for children who are listening to the story. Important components of good story telling are:

  • Storyteller is loud and clear! (Project from your diaphragm)
  • Eye contact!  You must try to make each listener feel as if the story is being told just for him or her, and eye contact helps the listeners feel that way. 
  • The story will have a clear beginning, middle and end (folktales often fit this bill)
  • The story will have places where the audience can join in (repeated verses, cumulative tales, playing an instrument)
  • The story will make you laugh or cry or feel scared...plays on basic emotions!
  • Practice by writing the story in your own words and reading it aloud three times. However, you only need to really memorize the first and the last lines!
  • Express! Use not only expression in the voice, but also in the face. Practice different types of voices for different characters in the story.
  • Practice in front of a mirror!
  • Create an introduction: set the mood for storytelling "magic" (Carolyn's note: Tinkling of chimes worked well for me with our Spider the Drummer story)
  • Plan a dynamic group participation ending (Carolyn's note: In the Spider story, we all ended with a long drum roll that started out loudly and gradually got very quiet)

                                                                        Beverly Botsford again
 The storyteller is preserving stories and it is important to leave the audience with the feeling of the story, that way they will remember it! Beverly Botsford emphasizes that storytelling (accompanied by drumming) comes from the heart. 
Children often enjoy and ask over and over again for stories about their families (what Mommy or grandfather did as a child, or even what happened on the day the child was born!). What a wonderful way to preserve "oral family history." Adding a favorite childhood song to the story often is the ingredient that keeps the story going on for generations.

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

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