Recording for Learning, Tips for Storytellers

I’m using my podcast addition to help me study for storytelling.

I arrange the play list so after every 30 minutes of listening (very approximate — I let Stuart McLean have his entire hour) I hear the story I’m studying.

I tried it a few times before, with recording I had made myself. It worked reasonably well.

This time I had a recording from the author — a New Yorker. She read it at what I call “reading” speed. Six minutes and thirty seconds. It just wasn’t sinking in. I re-recorded it at performance speed. Eight minutes and thirty seconds.

Yes, performance speed is that slow. It sounds painful when listening in isolation, but slower really does work better for an audience. They need time to comprehend and digest.

One would think it the recording speed is irrelevant. Why drag it out when I want repetition?

Two reasons.

First, I don’t want to get used to the high speed, and revert to it while performing. Even with my experience, it’s still easy to do.

Second, it encourages me to think ahead while learning. Performance speed is more than just dragging out the syllables, although that’s part of it. The larger part is pausing between phrases. This story has several lists. After each item, my mind supplies the next, then the recording confirms it. Same with each scene — which is great, because often it’s the first sentence in a new scene that abandons you.

When we learned how to help our speech-delayed first child, one of the techniques was about “closure”. We sang songs with him and did finger plays. They often involved actions, and interaction. After we played the game a few times, we would hesitate before the final line or action. If I sing “Row, row, row your,”, your mind automatically supplies “boat”. You want to hear it. Son would look around as if something were missing.

It worked. Blue, Table and Drawer asked for his help (for the tenth time that week), counted to three, and then he said his first words: Wake up Steve!

So if listening to the a recording made at top speed doesn’t work for you, try slowing it down and leaving those gaps.


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