Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recording Day!

Good morning, everyone. Yesterday was RECORDING DAY! And it was awesome. A special, special thank you to Don P. "Buck" Creacy (Georgetown, KY) for being an amazing producer before, during and after this recording. I had a blast. We recorded at Dynamix Productions in Lexington, KY (Neil Kesterman - he's the man!)

It was fun. Very low key, although very high quality. I was introduced to the little dog (maybe a pug of some sort), Miley, who kept a smile on my face as he interacted with us throughout the day. I was able to wear microphones and hear my own voice - and that was really exciting to me - because I could hear my voice telling the story and I enjoyed what I was hearing.

Buck, and Neil, were always kind and respectful when I needed to repeat something. There is something about a Southern Gentleman that just makes you feel like you are a Queen. It was fun to hear Neil laugh after a story or song was done - he seemed to enjoy what I was doing as well. And, Buck, still got choked up on "A Good Stick."

Here's the truth folks. Buck said in the beginning as we were prepping for this CD, "I hope through all of this that somehow I will help you to be an even better storyteller." He has done that. I think about my stories more intensely - not just the ones on the CD, but while on the road. I evaluate myself and the characters I present with more scrutiny - is the voice right? Is it clear? Is there a theme? Does the order make sense? I'm actually a better "thinking" storyteller. He has also helped me write a better story. I took his advice on every story, except "Simon and Susannah" - that story is so ingrained in me, that changing it even further is very difficult. His advice has taught me so much. Thank you so much, Buck.

Okay, so pass this on to friends to want (or need) to record their CD's. Buck Creacy, Aslan Productions, freshdeal@buckpcreacy.com, www.aslanproductions.com. He's a Storyteller-Producer - and you can't beat that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Day of Little Ones

Yesterday I was at my adopted school for the 2009-2010 school year - Roosevelt Elementary School, Sioux City, IA. I love coming here, as I have loved each of my past adopted schools. The fun of being a "artist-in-residence" for the year is the relationships I get to foster with students and teachers. Teachers are more at ease with me, students look forward to me coming and even the secretarial, custodial and cafeteria staff smile and accommadate on my arrival. It's a lot of fun.

My focus yesterday was a program for the Kindergarteners. A note had gone home with each Kindergartener inviting their parents to come, as well as their younger siblings. Also, each person who had already registered their child for Kindergarten for the next school year, was also invited. No, not many came, but we had a great time with all who were there. The goals were met: a) make the upcoming Kindergarteners feel welcome and excited about school; b) encourage literacy amongst the students and encourage the parents in this area; and, c) encourage exercise and eating well as a constant lifestyle. Plus, the Kindergarteners loved having me all to themselves. This time, they were the "big" kids and the program was just for them!

Earlier in the day, I visited other classrooms:
Bigbee (5th grade) - reviewed my travel schedule since Jan. 11 (identifying states on the map and discussing state abbreviations) & learned a way to remember the 13 colonies. 2 students - Patrick and Tyler F. - had read a poem by Eloise Greenfield, "Way down in the music" from the book, Honey, I love you!, and put it to music so they could share it with me. It was great!!
Moriarty (2nd grade) - focus was respecting others and not tattling. I told "Anansi and the Yam Hills" and we processed. Then they went into pairs and shared something nice about each other, and then pairs did the mirror game - learning to be the leader and the follower. Also, to understand that they were to take care of their classmates and respect them, because each one was/is special.
Faulk (1st grade, w/ a smattering of 2nd grade) - Told "Aunt Kat" and processed
Boettinger (2nd/3rd grade) - Reviewed story elements, and told "Uncle is Toad of Heaven" and then reviewed story elements and how to summarize from that story.
Lamareoux - focus was learning to read aloud with expression, but no too loud. We did emotions and how the emotions sounded in our voice, and then used a book to focus on how the emotions sound as we read. Then we made up a story using a picture - just for fun.
Vander Schaff (4th/5th grade) - We did the same as Ms. Bigbee's Class, however, we added "The Bumblebee Song." Loads of fun, because Ms. Carlson, the Principal, sang a couple of her childhood songs as well.

Great time had by all. Peace,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Other Side of Virginia

So yesterday I was in another part of Virginia I was unfamiliar with - the Northern Neck area. There is lots of history in that part of Virginia. I placed the birthplace of George Washington and Stratford Hall is there. The highways are named after famous, and not so famous, people. And I enjoyed the wine. (Try Ingleside Winery - wonderful place!)

I felt like I was driving in Southwest Missouri - the little towns that kept cropping up. Names I was completely unfamiliar with - Kilmarnock, being one of them - but it was fun to learn about so much. I am always amazed about how diverse Virginia is. It may not be as large as California, but there is still so much to see and do and each area of Virginia has its own flavor. Virginia is definitely a great state.

I performed at Chesapeake Academy in Irvington, VA. They have an organization called PALS - Performing Arts (something, something). Also, the Wylie Foundation and Target provide grants for the programs they bring in. I was blessed yesterday to be doing "My Piano" storytelling program, because God made sure that I kept everything in the car that I needed, since I was running like the wind, and didn't even know until two days before, what program I was doing for them. Chesapeake Academy kindly invited other schools as well parents with children to come. It was a delight. And, I must say, one of the best sound systems I have ever used - and much needed.

Okay, the countdown continues - 4 days until recording!! God, to you be the glory! Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rapt 4th Graders

Wow, what a day yesterday! It was long and by the end I was more exhausted physically than I have been in many, many months, even a couple of years. I am presently in Jessup, MD (again I had to ask the front desk person - "where am I?" - LOL). Had time to share and vent and cry to God, and He used His word to help revive my soul. Amen.

Now, the 4th graders! What a great time I had at General Wayne Elementary School, Malvern, PA with the 4th graders. Every year I had gone before I was with the 5th graders and with my buddy, Barbara Masters (who I didn't get to see - Sorry!) The teacher asked me for the full two hours of my time with these students.

I presented Betsy Costner Historic Character Presentation (pre- and post-Civil War). It's one of the most powerful presentations I do. For 45 mins. the students traveled with me through the life of Betsy Costner. Then for 15 mins. we had Q&A. After that we did a little "Juba" just to move a bit, and then it was Q&A and giving facts about the War, about the life of the slave, etc. for the next 45 mins. One student even asked, "Where did the slaves come from?" Ahhh, my favorite lesson. So I had the chance to teach it - my way - and then review it. I'm so proud of those kids and they way they learned, and I love teaching that particular topic. It was great!!

So at 3 pm I say, "It's time to go" and there are groans from the students. I say, "Really, you have to go." And I get a standing ovation from some of the 4th graders. We spent so much time learning, learning, learning and they wanted more. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? I even gave the teachers a chance to ask questions and each of them did - what great examples. Had a great time, Amy. Hope to do it again.

Joy and Pain - don't they always seem to come at the same time? But God is the God of both!! Amen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Coming Home

Yesterday I gave an African-American Storytelling Presentation at First Baptist Church Warrenton (Fauquier County), VA. It was a coming home of sorts for me. My father was raised in this county and so many people came out in support, not necessarily of me, but of the relationship that my parents have had with the community. I had lots of my Dad's side of the family there and it was a joy to see them. (Thanks, Whit and Betty, for coming all the way from North Carolina!)

It was an amazing experience to present in the church. African-American Baptist folk like to respond and interact and there was lots of that. I also had the joy to have an "out of body experience" as I watched myself tell a story (one I don't do often) and said to myself, "Wow! She's good." :) I really saw God at work - in choosing what stories to tell, in which order and how long to go!

Bottom line - I had a blast! And it was very, very well-received. Yesterday I believe I realized I will do well at Storytelling Festivals, with my reliance on God. I cannot thank Mabel Joynes and Cousin Virginia White enough for their belief in me, and how they treated me like a superstar.

I'm in Pennsylvania right now, in a place called Mountville (?), just stopped to sleep at the hotel before I head to Malvern. I leave today on a great high from yesterday, but also much humility - I must share the gift and it's not really mine. Amen!