I teach through story and song. Not only are these effective mediums for passing on information and inspiring an interest in the pursuit of knowledge, they are in and of themselves fun, even joyous experiences. That is reason enough for my vocation as a storyteller and musician. And why I have decided to focus on performing The Koala Went Cooee concerts to preschools, playgroups and storytimes in 2016.
In collaboration with Roman (my companion in arts education, philosophising and food gathering) we will be presenting 30-45 minute music and storytelling concerts featuring songs from our CD of the same name.
I began writing the songs a decade ago during my artist residency at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre in Port Macquarie, NSW. I was engaged to collect the stories of the people, flora and fauna in this national park. Songs like Goanna about the relationship between the brush turkeys and the lace monitor lizards were the result of studying the reptiles and birds indigenous to that area. However I included songs about other Australian fauna, not native to the region, such as wombats, emus and crocodiles and produced the CD with 24 songs and a downloadable booklet of activities.
The most important component of storytelling and music is listening. This can be undertaken in private or within a group. Every child has their listening preferences. I am a firm believer in the notion that familiarity breeds confidence, in regard to listening. That’s why children often ask to be read the same story over and over again. They love repetition because their anticipation is successfully rewarded. “I know that!” They will often retell a story they are being read or join in reciting a rhyme if they have heard it enough times. Their expressive language skills are developed as a result of their developing listening confidence.
I love being able to work ‘live’ with children, but also have the resources available for them to deepen and build on their listening experience. I see arguing what is a better children’s literature experience; reading out loud to them or storytelling, in the same light as comparing the merits of live music listening experiences to recorded ones. In each case they are complementary and individuals may have personal preferences. I am happy to be able to offer a range of choices through both performances and cds.
Photo taken by Roman Schatz at a concert at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, Port Macquarie, Australia