“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato.
Music was my first love. My parents were big music fans and introduced me to the sounds of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and my mother’s all time favourite, Elvis Presley.
It’s no wonder I developed a love for the sound of the guitar that will last a lifetime. One thing that will always amaze and astound me about music, is its ability to transform you to another place and time, another planet or even dimension. Close your eyes and let the music transport you. Let a song that has a special meaning to you evoke the emotions it was first related to; a wedding song is a classic example.
The marriage between music and lyric is a powerful force. The natural physical laws which govern the phenomenons of sound into music and how (and more profoundly ‘why’) it can manipulate our emotions is enough to ponder over for a lifetime. But mix in a well written lyric on a subject you can relate to. The phenomena becomes even more complex.
Maybe that’s why popular music has lyrics. To articulate into words the feeling that the music is already conveying. To give us something coherent to follow which we can understand easier and enjoy; a verse, a bridge and a chorus. A start, a middle and an end – a story!
Lyrics of songs became my first introduction to ‘literature’ and stories and how important they are. I think this is why I was particularly drawn towards poetry and storytelling in rhyme. I remember vividly, sitting on the floor of our home in Essex listening to Stanley Holloway’s performance of Albert and the Lion by Marriot Edgar on an old vinyl player. I listened to it so much that I still have it memorised to this day.
We all need stories. We are all our own stories. Psychologically, we live inside the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and this is how we interpret the world we live in. Practically, stories help us to navigate our way through an infinitely complex world. We identify patterns in stories; consequences of certain behaviours, outcomes of certain actions, good and bad. Stories can be used for entertainment, but also powerful teaching tools (particularly for children).
I am in the process of publishing my first children’s book, written in rhyme, which I will discuss in more depth in one of the next articles. But for now, I would like to highlight what you can expect to find in the articles that follow.
With a career in teaching and as a father of a 7 year old boy, I am extremely interested in finding effective ways to teach children, particularly difficult subjects that are hard for children to grasp.
I believe that one way this can be achieved, is by being able to tell them stories with a moral and ethical value using characters and plots that they can enjoy and relate to. There are so many great stories out there that you can use for your children. Fables and myths that have lasted hundreds or even thousands of years. I remember learning The boy who cried wolf as a warning not to lie; One of Aesop’s fables written at around 500BC!
However, it’s not really a surprise that some of these stories become a bit outdated, and sometimes they need reworking and adapting for the children of today. Especially when you take into consideration that each child is different and will relate to different things at different ages. For example, the tale of a naughty young boy who lies to the village for fun, gets a gruesome end when he is eaten up by a wolf along with his whole herd of sheep, might not be to every little kid’s taste. Don’t lie, or die!
Is death really the consequence of a young child telling a lie about putting her toys away? And is it really worth having to stay up with her until she falls asleep because she’s afraid of the wolf coming to get here? Maybe, maybe not, you have to decide.
Storytelling has been a part of humanity since humans have been around on earth. It’s part of who we are and is something that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom. In fact, the oldest document found, from the earliest known civilization (Mesopotamia), was a story. Not a law book or a religious text, a story; The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Civilizations and empires come and go. The biggest army, the strongest fortress, and the highest walls all crumble and fade away.
But stories, they last forever!
I will be sharing different ways to create, develop and adapt stories to fit the needs of the child its being told to. I’ll be looking at stories that already exist and completely new and original ones too. I will also be analyzing my own works so that you can see the thought process that goes into writing strong, appealing stories with moral values.
Check back soon for the next article…
Thank you for your support.