minstrel: aid for baby bards

Harold Feld hfeld at ids2.idsonline.com
Tue Mar 11 02:32:23 PST 1997

At 8:55 AM 3/10/97, Pendar wrote:
>>       - If one of you has done this sort of regular workshop, what do you
>> feel is most important to keep in mind?
>Please keep in mind that you can't TEACH anyone Bardic Skills! They
>either Get It or they Don't! Don't Push! They must motivate themselves to
>learn. The best you can do is provide examples and some lyrics, music,
>and stories for them to take home and study. They should then take it
>upon themselves to learn to emulate the elements of bardic that they like.

Utter nonesense!  Bardic skills can indeed be taught.  You confuse, it
seems to me, several important different aspects.  No one can be forced to
learn, and people have different basic talent levels.  Soem have skills
they do not even know they possess (I learned about telling stories by
watching my father without ever realizing it until years later).

>>       - What suggestions might you have for dealing with the effects of
>> "constructive criticism"?
>If your workshop is to work at all it has to be free of criticism of any
>kind. It should be like having a bardic circle at your house, the only
>difference being that before people sit around and perform for each
>other, someone should explain the elements of good bardic style. That
>way, those who need the help will have gotten time to think about it
>BEFORE they perform.

I strenuously disagree.  Rather, feedback should be at a specified time
(immediately after the performance).  Folks should have room to experiment,
and a recognition that there are many styles and things that work for some
folks don't for others and vice versa.  However, I do believe that there
are somethings that are flat out *worng*, and that folks should be told how
to strengthen their performance.

Please note this is not an excuse to dump on folks.  People need to be told
*nicely*.  Hopefully by example.  Remind them that they will get the hang
of it, that everyone needs practice (the best lesson of all!), and even the
best story-teller they know started out at ground zero.

While folks should say what they think, be alert for the point where folks
start repeating each other or where the individual starts suffering from
overload.  Too much information cannot be processed and the person will
lose heart.  If anyone is annoyed at not getting their say, remind them
that you are assembled to help the teller who is up.

>>       - What suggestions do you have in terms of structure of the evening?

Part of it depends on the size of the crowd.  If more than ten people, you
are going to need to set limits on both telling time and feedback time.

Ask people in advance if they wish to tell.  Also, if they are telling, if
they want feedback.  Not everyone wants feedback, and creating a simple
space for practice is useful.  Some groups have a rule that non-tellers are
not permitted to offer advice/criticism.  The theory is that those who
don't risk anything should not criticize others.  OTOH, storytellers
perform for audiences, not for each other.  Set the ground rules either
way, but set them in advance and set them clearly (but nicely).

>> What general advice might you have for me, as the > moderator/facilitator?
Decide in advance how you want to run things.  Do you have specific things
you want to work on (such as in-persona storytelling, devices in
storytelling, performance techniques)?  If so, do you have specific
exercise you want to run through?  For example, Alexander Yevsha of the
Carolingian Storyteller's Guild suggested an exercise where each teller
receives the barebones outline of a story and each tells it in a persona
appropriate manner.  This gives folks a chance to develop their SCA
specific skills.

I can suggest other exercises if you are interested.

Harold Feld
Yaakov HaMizrachi

"Do not ask 'Why are these days not as good as the days of old?' This
question is not prompted by wisdom." -Eccl.

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