Story and a Song/Historia y una canción | A World of Stories
A song and a story take revenge when the woman in this folktale no longer shares them. By transforming into men’s clothing, the song and story make her jealous husband angry until he listens to the truth. Story told in Spanish and English.
Storyteller Carrie Sue Ayvar believes that while most of us don’t have the opportunity to travel around the world, in a story we can go anywhere – around the earth, back in time, and maybe even into outer space! Folktales travel. They are passed down from person to person, generation to generation, usually by oral retelling. They do not have one identifiable author. Instead there are usually many versions or variations. There are some stories that have been told for hundreds and even thousands of years. Each storyteller retells it and changes the story in some way. The basic sequence of events is mostly the same, but the details may change.
“A Story and A Song” is a folktale that originally came from India. This story, like most folktales, mirrors the values and customs of the Indian culture it comes from while still incorporating a universal theme. Ayvar first read it in English in a collection of folktales from India. She says that even as she read the words in English, she could hear it in her mind in both Spanish and English, so she chooses to tell it that way. As in any art form, the artist is required to make choices, and storytelling is an oral, spoken art form. Instead of painting on paper, the storyteller paints the picture in the listener’s mind using words, rhythm, images, and even pauses, as well as the essential story elements like characters, setting, conflict, or problem and resolution.
Every story has a problem that must be resolved. Stories can help us to see things from a different point of view, develop and strengthen our imagination “muscles,” and create and produce new possible solutions. The great scientist Albert Einstein used folktales and riddle stories in his classes at Princeton. He suggested that to become a great scientist one should “read fairytales.”
The woman in the story stops sharing her story and her song. Her husband no longer takes the time to listen anyway. Whose fault is it, hers or her husband’s, that the story and song get stuck inside? Why?
Do you feel that we have a responsibility to share our gifts and ideas? Both? Neither? Why?
What else could the story and song have done to resolve their problem? Do you feel they had a right to make trouble for the woman and her husband? Why?
Do you have a favorite story? A song that you like to sing? What is it that you like about them?
Scientist Albert Einstein said, that "”Imagination is more important than knowledge." Do you think that is true? Why?
Listening is an essential component to storytelling. We need a story to tell, someone to tell it, and someone to listen–without that the teller is just talking to themselves! Listening opens the door to understanding. It is a skill, like any other, that can be learned and sharpened.
Play the telephone game. Whisper a short phrase to the first student. (For example: “Let’s go fly a kite.”) They, in turn, whisper it to the next student until it has gone around the room. The last one repeats aloud what they have heard. Compare what they have heard with the original phrase.
Hold up a book, showing the parts as you say them and say, “Ahem. This is a book. This is the front of the book. This is the back of the book. This is the side of the book. This is a book. Please repeat all that I just did.” Hand the book to someone and have them repeat all that you did. It is not complete unless they include the, ahem, voice clearing.
Creative and critical thinking, as Einstein recognized, can be increased and honed through stories. Use riddle and puzzle stories. This is one of Ayvar’s favorites: Laura and Lily are sisters, born of the same mother and father on the very same day but they are not twins. How is that possible? There is actually more than one possible correct answer. They are not twins but that does not mean they are not two of triplets or quadruplets.
One of Ayvar’s favorite creative and fun writing exercises is called Excuses, Excuses or Why I Didn’t Turn My Homework In On Time. Use your creativity! Start it as a group activity–one good story leads to another. It’s hard not to excuse a kid who tells you, “A brain-sucking alien monster landed in my backyard, and I blocked him with my nearly completed homework paper, thus saving my life but making a real mess of the homework!” Encourage them to make it exciting and not boring. Remind your students of the essential story elements, characters, setting (time and place!) conflict/problem, resolution, conclusion. In this case, they already have at least one character (themselves) and the conflict or problem (why their homework was late).