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Tiny Owl Music & Storytelling campaign continues

Music is one of most emotional and enduring forms of storytelling; early cultures often share their stories through music. With the launch of our brand new series called Children. Music. Life, of which the first book of the series, The Drum, is coming out soon, we have started a campaign to explore the relationship between children, music and stories. You can keep up to date by searching for #TinyOwlDrum and #ChildrenMusicLife.

We contacted experts in all kinds of areas such as parents, illustrators, teachers, and librarians, and asked them:

What do you think about the role of music in children’s lives and its relationship to stories? 
What song do you remember from your childhood?

Here are one more response, from Marion Long.


Marion Long:

The role of stories, music and dancing is a natural part of our human desire to forge connections

An illustration from The Drum

* When I was about nine years old, I asked my Grandmother what she used to do in at home in Ireland when she was nine. She told me that after school there would be chores to do, but then all of the children in the village would gather at someone’s cottage, where they would tell each other stories. I already knew that my Grandmother’s home village didn’t have books, televisions or radios, but still, I was amazed that the village children knew so many stories that they could amuse themselves through the winter months. Apparently, the stories would go on and on for many evenings, so they would always want to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to know what else the children in Ireland did. It turned out that they played music and danced. To me it was wonderful that the village children could create their own music from nowhere and without adults!  Two of the young boys had already learned the traditional folk fiddle and could play the jigs very well, giving the village children an unlimited supply of dance music for their own amusement. My Grandmother showed me exactly how to dance the intricate steps of the jigs and sang a few of the old Irish ballads – she remembered everything perfectly even though she had early stage dementia by then.

The connection between music, dancing, singing and storytelling lies at the core of our human nature. What I love most about my Grandmother’s story is that the two young boys learned to play the folk fiddle because the tradition was that each generation of the village needed to have a couple of musicians  – and so it was that the children had their own supply of music to dance to.

Click image to download poster for A Bottle of Happiness

For me, the role of stories, music and dancing is a natural part of our human desire to forge connections. My Grandmother’s story showed that the village children shared their connectedness through stories, music and dancing everyday. They remained in close contact all their lives, even though they all left their village as teenagers in search of work. They were remarkably successful, creating prosperity for their own families even though times were often challenging in London, New York and Chicago of the 1920s

* My Dad has an East of London, Frank Sinatra kind of a voice and he adores singing – it’s fair to say that he sings more than he speaks. I remember waking up every morning to his favourite songs. Cued by the weather he would be crooning, ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ with heart-breaking intensity, or  ‘I’m singing in the rain,’ when it was not so sunny. If we were going out for the day, we’d all sing ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’. This didn’t mean that we were always off to the beach, but that we’d hurrying-up to get ourselves ready to go to the park. By the time I went to school I knew hundreds of songs and felt happiest when there was a chance to sing.

Dr Marion Long is Director of Rhythm for Reading in Surrey.

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