What is family storytelling?
We all enjoy gathering with family members and talking about our shared experiences. While we sometimes start with facts and dates, usually those pieces of our memories trigger stories. Whether it’s grandpa telling us about the time his favorite horse escaped the pasture during a thunderstorm; Aunt Mary relating how she and her sister once fell in the creek trying to catch frogs; or your mom teasing about how unimpressed she was the first time she met your dad – the stories which connect us with our loved ones and with the past also help us understand where we come from and who we are.
Family storytelling is the recollection of past events in a narrative format.
Why should I try to preserve family stories?
As each year rolls by, family memories and stories are lost as older generations pass away. We all know this is true. By recording the stories your loved ones hold, you can be confident that those wonderful memories of your family’s history will reach future generations. We really owe it to our children and grandchildren, as well as those descendants yet to come, to preserve these priceless stories.
Perhaps even more crucial is to record those stories in your loved one’s own voice. Hearing family memories retold by a loved one creates a unique bond which written stories or secondhand retellings simply cannot reproduce. When we record someone, we aim not only at securing the stories but also at capturing a little of the personality of the storyteller. That alone is a treasure children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will cherish.
Why do you record on location, rather than in a studio?
In situations where sound quality must be pristine, a studio provides the perfect environment. However, capturing an event, with all its uniqueness and subtlety, requires on-location recording. Storytelling is more like an event; each rendition is unique. And remember, we are trying to record more than just stories, although they are very important; we are also trying to secure a little of the personality of the storyteller so it can be shared with others, far into the future.
People are most comfortable in their own environment. Free-flowing storytelling requires the subject to be at ease. We have audio equipment which travels well, is quick to set up and provides a high-quality recording. Bringing that equipment to you helps assure comfort for the storyteller and a recording which captures stories and the personality of the one telling them.
Why not video-record stories?
While video is useful for a wide range of applications, including family gatherings, weddings, birthdays, documentaries, presentations, etc., it is not the best medium for recording memories and stories.
First, cameras typically make a person self-conscious. At a family event, the camera generally roams about, capturing each individual for a few seconds to a minute or so at most. Well-wishers offering video messages occasionally might go for three or four minutes. These extemporaneous moments on camera work because they are very short – too short to allow the subject to begin thinking about how he or she looks or what they will say next. Video also works for long-form prepared statements, since the subject can refer to notes or has memorized their presentation. Typically, the subject has also looked in a mirror first in preparation for being on camera.
Audio recording removes the pressure of being seen. A person can act naturally, with nods and gestures and winks and any other idiosyncrasies which are their unique trademark. With audio recording, storytellers don’t need to worry if a few hairs are out of place or there’s a food stain on their shirt or they have a pimple on their forehead. Thus, their comfort level is greatly increased – and that is perfect for honest, open and energetic storytelling.
Audio recording also works better for delivery to the audience. Have you ever been watching a presentation on television – a speech, a lecture, a long interview – and found your mind drifting away? Your eyes were open, you were “watching” the presentation, yet, you lost focus and began thinking of other things. If you shook yourself out of your little daydream and refocused on the presentation, all other thoughts were once again banished. You saw the speaker and you heard the words. That’s it.
Audio works very differently. Where daydreaming is a challenge for video, audio – especially audio storytelling – intentionally taps into the “theater of the mind.” Stories you hear become vivid as your mind creates the scene and places you as an observer, watching the narrative unfold. The story itself becomes internalized; the narrator becomes part of the memory you are creating. Video is a “hot” medium, demanding all your attention – or losing all your attention. Audio is “cool,” and allows your mind to be creative in collaboration with what you hear.
Reception of family stories, and the personality of the storyteller, is best effected through audio recording and sharing.
The relative I would like to record is sometimes kind of shy or quiet. Will you be able to get my loved one to tell those stories?
The keys to encouraging people to tell their stories are actually pretty simple. Be humble – this is the storyteller’s event, not mine. Be curious – demonstrate genuine interest in the life and memories of the storyteller. Be engaged – react to the twists and turns of each narrative openly and honestly; laugh if it’s funny, gasp if it's surprising, sigh if it is sad. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), be quiet! - listening is an art of silence; I am there to facilitate the drama, tone, and pace which best displays the true personality of the storyteller. A long pause is vastly better than an interrupted punchline.
I apply my years of work in media, journalism and customer service in my role as a story facilitator. It is my responsibility and pleasure to overcome obstacles and complete successful recordings. I take this role very seriously.
Can I schedule a session for recording my own stories?
Absolutely! Everyone has stories to tell, about their own lives, about other loved ones, about how they became who they are. Did you experience a life-changing event? Did you have a close relationship with someone who is now gone? Were you a part of an activity or occupation or lifestyle which is disappearing or has changed greatly? You have a story to tell – actually, many stories to tell! Children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances, partners and competitors – your stories are valuable to all these people and many more. Create a lasting legacy future generations will appreciate and cherish. Record your stories!
How can I contract with you to record family stories?
Legacy Chronicles Life Stories offers a variety of recording packages, including one-hour sessions, two-hour sessions, multiple-session recordings and customized plans. Our mission is to help as many families as we can. We keep our fees low and offer discounts and payment plans (through PayPal) so that every family can have their loved ones recorded, secure those memories and share them with others.
If you are ready to gain the peace of mind which comes from knowing your loved one’s memories are secured for the future, please schedule a session today. Our online system makes it quick and easy.
Should I schedule for one hour? Two hours? Multiple sessions?
Legacy Chronicles Life Stories offers different options so that the needs and budget of every family can be met. The session I typically recommend for most people lasts two hours. This time frame provides enough space to explore memories in more depth, allow “surprise” stories to make their appearances, and avoid rushing the storyteller. A two-hour session almost always results in enough material for a double CD.
One-hour sessions can also be effective. Obviously, the time constraints will limit the number of stories told. In a one-hour session, it is important to record stories requested by the family or storyteller before exploring other memories. Even so, a one-hour recording session can capture those most valuable stories as well as the personality of the storyteller. A one-hour session produces a single CD.
Multiple-session recordings capture much more material, offering a definitive retrospective which can later be organized according to subject matter (family, career, etc.), time in the storyteller’s life (childhood, early independence, raising children, etc.) or people (Dad, Mom, Uncle Henry, etc.). The multiple-session format is particularly useful when more than one storyteller will be contributing. Businesses, organizations, and churches can have a number of leaders or long-time members present stories in their areas of experience. Families may have several siblings each complete a session. A double CD from each session is typical.
If you aren’t sure if these options meet your needs, contact us! We are happy to customize our recording sessions to make sure we capture the memories and stories you don’t want to lose.
How do you know what to ask at a session?
After scheduling, you will receive our questionnaire to assist in facilitating the stories while recording. We ask the typical things (name and date of birth of the storyteller, address, spouse and children’s names, etc.), as well as questions aimed more specifically at the storyteller’s life experience. Those questions include previous places of residence, childhood environment and a few standout events. We also ask for at least three, but no more than five, stories which the family or storyteller would specifically like to have recorded. I like to point out no one has ever only listed three!
With the completed questionnaire in hand, I develop a series of questions for the storyteller centered around the responses. I leave plenty of space on my notepad as well, so that as I listen to the recording, I can take notes and ask for more detail or circle back to a subject which might hold more stories.
Whether it has been one-hour, two-hour or multiple sessions, we have never stopped recording early because we ran out of stories!
How do you personalize the CDs?
Personalization of compact disks produced from your loved one’s recording session is an important part of creating a family heirloom, to be compared with a wedding photo album or a family portrait. You provide us with one to three photos of the storyteller, preferably copies in a digital format, which are used in the artwork we create for the CD label and cover. We edit and arrange the recorded material, breaking it into “tracks” which can be selected by number. Each track is also titled and listed on the back of the CD cover. Based on the overall content of the CD, we develop a “theme” which will guide the design of both the CD label and the cover. The photos which were provided are integrated into the design. Finally, we create an “album title,” with the storyteller as the artist.
When will I get the completed CDs?
Barring any unforeseen issues, the final CD is completed and ready for shipment or delivery within two weeks, often even sooner. Depending on our schedule and your location, we may deliver them to you directly at a time convenient to you. If we ship your CD copies, you will be notified when they ship and you will be provided the tracking information by email.
If a problem arises which may delay completion of the CD, you will be notified immediately.
How and when do I pay you?
For your convenience, we offer a variety of payment options. Payment through our partnership with PayPal offers the choice to break your fee into six payments (six months same as cash, subject to credit approval). PayPal also accepts credit or debit card for payments through our website. If paying by check or cash, we prefer payment at the recording session.
Do you offer any discounts?
As part of our effort to offer a service for all families, as well as provide a wider public service in the area of folk history, we provide a “Share It Discount” of 25% off our standard fees for storytellers and families who allow us to use the recorded material in the public domain. This includes the use of audio, transcriptions, submitted photos, and graphics. We are given the right to utilize these items in marketing materials, online posts, public presentations, news story or column submissions, educational programs, documentaries or archival submissions, among other methods. We are not allowed to sell the material in whole or in part.
We currently also offer a discount of 5% for prepayment when you schedule on our website.