We went to a storytelling event at our neighborhood coffeeshop. They have different storytellers each time. I think usually they are geared to the preschool set, but the man we saw today seemed to be a storyteller for older groups. A lot of 2 and 3 year-olds ended up leaving early, but Violet in particular had a great time.
The man was Cherokee, and told native American stories, including a story about the origins of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, and a “true” ghost story about the origins of a ghost often seen on a bike trail on the Minnesota river. He also played the conch shell, telling a story about a 15-year-old girl during the ice age, who played the shell to draw elephants into the swamp, so that the tribe’s hunters could shoot them. Her skeleton was found in the Glacial Lakes area of Minnesota, along with her belt that hold a knife, a turtle shell, and a giant conch shell, which he said must have been traded far inland.
After the storytelling he invited the kids to look at the instruments, but the attention span of the preschoolers was used up (including Victoria’s, who was with another 4yo friend). That meant Violet got to try all the instruments herself, and the storyteller spent about 45 minutes with her, showing her how to play the different flutes (in just about every key), a penny whistle, a thunder drum, and the conch. She was so determined to get a sound from that conch! You blow like you would for a brass instrument, but it’s trickier. She did get some real notes out of it after a while, and she worked so hard — her cheeks were red, and I had to start reminding her to take a real breath before trying again.
The storyteller was very generous and when they were working on the flutes he kept telling her she had a real talent for it. Who knows whether this was true or not, but it was kind and encouraging all the same. Perhaps we’ve found our next instrument? (I confess I would much rather see her on a string instrument, because I played flute through high school and really disliked it, but I suppose that is not enough reason to persuade her to abandon her interest.)