Logo for Story Circle Storytelling combines the intensity of a solo performance with the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation. "Storytelling at its best is mutual creation. Through the interaction between teller and listener, storytelling speaks to the inner child to nurture the human spirit." - Ellin Greene, author of Storytelling: Art & Technique.

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Article
Couple Create Musical Stories for Children

By Natalie Walsh

Originally published in The Daily Gazette, January 27, 2007

 

“This is what I want to be doing,” Carol Connolly remembers thinking in 1989 during her first meeting of the Story Circle of the Capital District, an organization of storytellers who get to tell their tales before a live audience, to hear stories told and to encourage beginning storytellers.

 

In a sense, Connolly was already a storyteller to her classes of students in the Wynantskill School District. Over the course of 28 years in her kindergarten, second- and fifth-grade classrooms, she would tell stories in an animated fashion and create character voices to captivate her students.

 

Once she retired in 1995, she started as a full-time solo storyteller.  When her husband, Don Darmer, a musician, took early retirement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, their musical children’s storytelling business, Tales ‘n Tunes, was created.

 

Gradual Development

Connolly said the couple’s professional relationship evolved slowly.  Darmer first only played music in the background or to open the performances, she said. His role became more active and now the creative duo collaborate: Connolly writes the words and Darmer the tunes. He also now enjoys both telling tandem tales with Connolly and having audiences sing along with their songs.

 

Together, Connolly and Darmer have traveled and collected stories from such diverse places as Brazil, France, Greece and Austria.

 

They perform stories, primarily from the folk tradition, with original songs creatively integrated to allow for audience participation.

 

Connolly, who is an active member of the Story Circle, said she enjoys the group because it provides community.

 

“So much of what we do is solitary work.  We do all the research on our own.  We develop the story on our own.”  Having the community provides a chance to ‘try out stories on listeners who will, if you want, give you feedback.  We have a critical response process.  A teller receives as much or as little feedback as they want from listeners.  It is a very supportive community,” she said.

 

New Compact Disc

In October, Connolly and Darmer released their second CD of kid-friendly original songs and traditional tales for children ages 3 and up.  The CD includes new songs “Bunches of Beasts” and “Dipsy Doodle Zoo Parade” along with tales such as “Little Red Bossy Hen” and The Lion’s at the Door.”

 

Their version of a Louisiana folk tale, “Poule and Roach Celebrate,” features lively fiddle playing, along with banjo, guitar and bass.

 

The couple’s first CD, “Travelin’ Down the Road,” is also available.  It won a NAPPA Honors Award and an iParenting Award in 2004.  The CD is available for $15. on their web site, www.talesntunes.net, at the Open Door Book Store on Jay Street and at Borders on Wolf Road in Albany.

 

If you are interested in storytelling, Story Circle members meet alternately on the third Tuesday of odd-numbered months at the Colonie Town Library and the third Wednesday of even-numbered months at the Guilderland Public Library.