On my bookshelf

  • "The Breathing Book" by Donna Farhi
  • "Confessions of a Public Speaker" by Scott Berkun
  • "My Freshman Year" by Rebekah Nathan
  • "Power Presentation" by Patsy Rodenburg

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The house that cries

"The gift of words is magic," says world renowned storyteller Jane Yolen. After spending a very rich and busy week facilitating a workshop on teaching and learning I am even more puzzled and excited by the conundrum and complexity of words.

As a voice instructor I have spent years encouraging people to trust their instincts and let whatever word instinctively fall out, having faith that the impulses will enliven the body and allow that particular word to be voiced in the most natural and connected way.

Now as a facilitator, and as a teacher, I am also relearning words; words that inspire and invite rather than judge or shut down the listener. What are the words that spark something inside the listener heads and makes them want to delve into a thought, break it apart and search for their own conclusion?

My three year old, after spending a week crying each morning as I left the house, told me on Saturday, "Mom, we can't leave the house, it might cry!" Eight words that powerfully communicated to me his experience of being over the past week.

The challenge is the balance between trusting impulse and creating a knowledge base around words. Ian Raffel, a wonderful voice teacher in the lower mainland, has a real love of language and etymology. Although this may be less thorough than many books on the subject, I found my way to an Etymology On-line Dictionary. Looking up "Breath" alone could keep me busy for days.


After going into great detail on the magic of words in "Touch Magic", Jane Yolen sites research done on children raised by animals. Apparently, in the few cases that are known and studied, it was the acquisition of language that remained the hardest for these children when they were re-socialized in a human community. Is language our greatest gift? Helen Keller would probably answer a resounding, "Yes". So let us continue to explore its powers...