Those who tell stories rule the world” – a native American proverb.
I bet you’ve been waiting to read an article as this, especially children and mothers! I should have thought that the word “parents” would’ve been more appropriate but then in my view, it’s the mothers who more often than not opt to be stay-at-home-moms and narrate stories to their children. Mine’s a blanket statement though, with no bias towards any parental gender.
Yes, the article’s to do with Art & Craft. Not merely painting, but graphic designing, calligraphy, origami, bread craft, quilling and storytelling!
Well, who is the creative little head behind this? None other than little Ayushi Anand! Little she certainly is, in terms of height and years too. A few years ago, she made Mumbai her home, having come all the way from Bhopal. She pursued a marketing degree which would ordinarily have qualified her for a corporate job. However, her gut didn’t want to be stuck in a rut. So, with the direction of a life coach and exhaustive personality tests later, she succeeded in obtaining clarity about “creativity” being the way to go. So, it wasn’t long before she plunged into creative pursuits far removed from her main line of study.
Her first forms of art were 3D quilling, origami, glass and spray painting, bread craft (modelling bowls and photo frames out of real bread), and home décor items. 3D quilling, you may be aware, is nothing but creating three-dimensional objects out of paper. Didn’t the bread from her bread art perish, you’d ask? Of course, it would have perished hadn’t it been for the addition of chemicals to increase its shelf life.
Ayushi takes pride in having learnt the craft on her own, from YouTube channels. She is quick to acknowledge that some hacks were learnt from teachers. All these are fine skills but wait till you hear the whole “story”. I mean, wait till you hear her ”tell a story”. Her storytelling skill is unique, to say the least.
In the initial stages of her storytelling journey, the children from her residential society were made victims of her experiments, all happy victims of course. This helped her achieve experience in the art, egging her on to exhibit her talents at activity centres, schools and book libraries which subsequently led her to collaborate with them on 70-30% deals.
She accredits her storytelling expertise to professional and international storytellers and completed intensive storytelling workshops for a year. Eventually, she founded her own company called “STORYTELLING WITH AYUSHI”.
Her imitation of sounds of animals and birds is unlike anything else. Get a bunch of kids and you’ll have proof of how engaging her storytelling sessions can be. Rarely have I known kids to be as rivetted as in her workshops; not many teachers even would pride themselves of receiving undivided attention in class as Ayushi does.
To start with, she describes the basics of storytelling and then moves on to some fun practices so that the tongue opens up fully. There are basic noises of say a crow or a horse or even an elephant. She gets them to pick a story which involves a great deal of repetition. It is her contention that, with repetition, children tend to grasp faster. And oh, I am inclined to agree with that contention.
Storytelling involves not merely the vocals but expressions and body language holistically. If you’ve seen say, motivational speakers, they tend to raise their eyebrows when they want to make an emphasis on certain words. Of course, voice techniques take priority overall. Voice modulation lies in learning how to get your authentic voice from your stomach and not the throat. I have managed to use the “stomach” voice and the “head” voice, but the “chest” voice is a thing I am trying to still grasp. You need to listen to her “spin a yarn” to hear the three distinct voice types.
Why is speaking from the throat not advised? Because, with emphatic sounds, the throat could be affected if used and overused not to mention if abused. With a “gut” voice, there is no pressure exerted on the throat. A way of knowing if you’re doing it right is to place a finger on the belly button which moves inwards during speech from the stomach.
Similarly, if speaking from the chest, the pressure must emerge from that area. Take care to not let the stomach get tightened or sucked in when talking from the chest space.
Here is a demonstration of her voice clip, to give form to my description.
Ayushi trains children in speech and drama, and reading and writing in 10-month-long programs. The age groups range from 4.5 years to 15 years. Quite naturally, the moms also are curious to sign up for the storytelling programs in order to be better equipped to tell their own stories to their kids. To teachers, she demonstrates how education can be more fun and fascinating in their narration of lessons.
With the growing need for training, it made sense to rent out space in three centres in Mumbai specifically for these training sessions. There are one-on-one programs for clients who prefer exclusivity, and some online training on Skype as well. Or to conduct group workshops for school teachers/institutes pan India.
Even corporates use her expertise in storytelling, especially functions like Marketing, Sales and HR. They are taught to incorporate stories into their pitch and write different stories around various products and how to use this art form while representing their organization – externally or even internally with their colleagues or during presentations. Her packages range from Basic to Accelerate modules, and Advanced to Pro. The charges range from Rs. 15K to 80K, depending on the package type/s.
Storytelling is a powerful tool to launch ideas to the world. As with most tale-telling, it’s not the “what” of the story that matters, but the “how”.