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The Magic of Storytelling, and other recent lessons
By Linda Dessau - 02/17/2006 - 09:55 AM EST

It's great to be back as a regular columnist at the Muses Muse. My hiatus allowed me to establish my new freelance writing business (

Today's column is a slight departure from the topic of self-care for songwriters; instead I'm going to share some reflections on my recent experiences attending a local music festival.

During the first weekend of February, there was a very special event going on in Toronto, Canada. Amidst cold, clammy, damp weather, was Winterfolk, an indoor folk festival spread amongst five venues (six stages) on Danforth Avenue in Toronto's east end.

Here are some of my thoughts about that weekend of song and story.

The magic of storytelling

Storytelling has been showing up in my life a lot lately. When the same thing infiltrates my life from a variety of directions, it's usually a sign that it's trying to get my attention and has a message for me.

I attended a wonderful storytelling event for adults – combining children's stories with adult messages gleaned from them. And this was shortly after I'd begun a class on delivering "Magical Visualizations" – where we also discussed storytelling as an example of how we want to use our voices to "entrance" our clients when we're talking to their subconscious mind.

And then came Winterfolk, where I heard stories both spoken and in song. In between songs, songwriters would share - from snippets about how the songs were written to tales of different times and places in their lives. Jory Nash did this particularly well – I was entranced! And it added to the depth and connection of my experience of his performance.

The more open and honest songwriters were in sharing their stories with me, the more I wanted to hear from them.

Music-making is a business

I saw a great example of this when I caught a few songs from Michelle Rasky. She was participating in one of the many "songwriters in the round" events that took place during the festival.

At these events, three or four songwriters or groups would perform one song at a time and then rotate to the next person. In between we got to hear just how much wonderful mutual admiration, friendship and camaraderie goes on between these artists, some of whom have been playing the same festivals for years.

What Michelle did so well (besides writing great songs and performing them beautifully) is blend her musicality with a keen sense of business. The LAST time I saw her (at another festival called the Toronto City Roots Festival, 2004), she offered to put me on her mailing list. Since I had enjoyed her performance so much, I took her up on it.

I've been hearing from her steadily ever since – nothing obtrusive or unwanted, just the occasional notice of a gig or good news like the fact that her CD was being featured on the front page of the CD Baby website.

However, when I saw her name at Winterfolk, since it had been awhile, I couldn't actually remember WHY I'd liked her so much. But I knew I'd obviously signed up for a reason so I made sure to check her out. I was, again, blown away and have re-committed to catch more of her shows, buy her CD and watch out for her email announcements.

When I wrote Michelle to congratulate her on the show and her feature on CD Baby, she responded quickly and with a friendly tone – perfect "customer service".

When things don't go as planned

At any festival, there are bound to be issues with time, personalities, sound, equipment and/or weather. I saw a few of these over the course of the weekend at Winterfolk. I saw some performers who were extremely gracious and flexible, and others who were less so.

Do one thing and do it well

I thought I'd mention this as well, because it's ANOTHER message that has been coming at me from different directions lately. For someone like me who has many interests, talents and areas of focus, doing only one thing is NOT a possibility. I have family and friends, three careers, multiple hobbies and a spiritual life.

However, I think I do need to apply this credo with the added words, "at a time". Do one thing at a time, and do it well.

When I can focus my thoughts, efforts and energies on that ONE thing (at a time), I'm much more productive and I enjoy my work (or play, or learning) much more.

And I do think there are ways to simplify and maybe even reduce the things that take up space in my life. Maybe I'll reflect on that next month……

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