TEACHING ENGLISH-MUSIC FOR VISUALIZATION




Once the students are seated comfortably in an informal layout like a semi-circle, I reduce lighting levels in the room and invite them to listen to a story. I start the music at fairly low volume so that it is unobtrusive. The students may go into story-listening mode and be reminded of when they listened to stories as children at home or in school. Once the mood is established, I am ready to start the story.

I give a description, which I have prepared and practised before the class, of a scene that fits with the music. At the beginning of the story I am the main character and I am unaccompanied. I tell the story in the first person as if it happened to me, but am careful to avoid putting my own signature on it. For example I don't make it clear if I'm male or female or whether I'm an adult or a child. About a minute into the story it is time to start to invite contributions. I ask very simple questions such as 'I saw someone walking towards me. Who was this person?' or 'Did I open the box or leave it on the table?' Sometimes I ask more open questions like 'So what did I do next?'
I accept the first answer and continue the story incorporating the student input while now and again asking for further input with such questions as "What did I do next?" "What did the voice say?" or "Describe the old woman." Remaining sensitive to cultural and individual group members' sensitivities, I accept every contribution and include it in my narrative. When I sense that the group is ready, I invite a willing student to take on the role of storyteller and give them my seat. It is usually a good idea at this point to recap the story so far and to remind the new storyteller to ask for and incorporate other students' ideas in their telling. The accepting of others' offers is the key element of collaborative and spontaneous storytelling. They can hand on their role when they choose or I advise.

It is easy to sense the right time to intervene and ask the final storyteller to bring the story to an end. I might decide to prompt them to reincorporate the key characters and events in order to tie up loose ends. I might even step back into the role myself to do this. Once the story has ended, I make groups of 5 or 6 to create their own tales. This time I might use a different piece of music, which will ensure that the story is distinct from the first.
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