Weekly Summary, Week 4

Already done with week 4! What is that, a whole month? Time sure does fly on the internet.

This week, we got to learn about audio storytelling, a subject that I absolutely love, and can now say I find even more fascinating. We learned the behind-the-scenes stuff from Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad, we learned about the different techniques used in creating an audio story, and we also got to try our hands at a few of the audio assignments. I can really say that I’ve learned more about radio than I thought there was to learn. It’s a much more complex and difficult medium than I originally thought it was.

But, let’s get into specifics.

Glass and Abumrad
I may have gone a little overboard with what we were supposed to do for this assignment…but I watched all of the videos available. I was fascinated and I kept wanting to learn more. Glass’s 4-part talk helped me to understand how similar radio storytelling is to traditional storytelling. It requires a lot of work to make the story that you’re going to tell, and a lot of work to accurately execute the recording of it.

Glass talks a lot about how you might not get it the first time you do it. You might not be able to do well in the first year of your work with the medium. You might not get it within the first decade. But that’s a good thing, because it means you’re failing, and failing is progress. You can’t improve if you’re not failing, and failure should not be seen so negatively. This was probably the most important thing to hear, because, being new to this type of storytelling, we’re all probably going to fail at some level, and that’s okay.

Abumrad’s videos taught me about how storytelling isn’t just a one-sided thing; it takes the speaker and the listener together to create a story. If the speaker can’t properly describe a picture for the listener, then the listener won’t understand or care about the story. If the listener chooses not to pay attention or imagine the story, then the story will be erased in history. It’s so important for this co-authorship to exist, and it’s fascinating to hear it described in the way Abumrad does.

As for his second video, it taught me about making a name for yourself, or finding your “thing”. There are so many open opportunities and creative things you can do with your storytelling, you just have to figure out what that is. And you have to accept the “gut churn” feeling you get all the time, and acknowledge that it will always happen, but that it will always happen, even with experts.

[Post on Glass and Abumrad]

Listening to Stories
For this section, I chose to listen to This American Life‘s “Getting Away With It” episode, and I learned about the importance of background music.

This particular radio show uses music as a way to emphasize the mood to the listener. I might go so far as to say that the music can be used to subconsciously influence the listener’s mood and understanding of the story, but I don’t think my limited knowledge in Psychology would allow me to make that claim. But, it does still bring the listener’s attention to certain parts of the story, through both an increase in volume and the complete absence of the music sometimes.

[Post on the radio story]

Audio Assignments
For this week, we had to complete 3 audio assignments for a total of 8 stars. I chose to do the Spooky Dialogue audio assignment (2.5 stars), the Recite an Original Poem audio assignment (3.5 stars), and the Sound Effects Story audio assignment (3.5 stars), for a total of 9.5 stars!

I loved doing these assignments. Maybe I’m a narcissist and I like my voice (which is the truth, oops), but I absolutely love recording things and editing them or making them interesting or just doing anything that involves audio. What I also loved about these assignments was that I learned I’m not as proficient in Audacity as I could and probably should be.

I learned to do so many different things with Audacity though, even if half the time I was just moving sliders around and hoping for an interesting outcome. It works! You can learn just as well that way. A hands-on approach is the style of learning I’m best at, and I certainly learned a lot of things by doing these assignments.

[My completed audio assignments: 1, 2, 3]

Daily Creates
Once again, I continue to love the daily creates. Part of me wishes there were more in different categories, so I could try stepping out of my comfort zone a little more, but I am also perfectly content with working with pictures and writing and drawings.

I also tried to stay more on top of them this week, so as not to let them pile up at the end of the week, and it was so much less stressful than before.

[Daily Creates 1, 2, 3, 4]

I didn’t receive much feedback this week (although I did discover that once you approve someone once, you don’t need to approve them again, which is a good thing to know when checking your feedback!) I found that, even with comments that were complimenting certain things, it brought my attention to those things and I realized I could do better. One comment in particular about how clear my voice is in the original poem audio assignment really struck me, because upon listening to it again, my voice is way too garbled (and the microphone problems really hinder that middle line)

As far as reading other peoples’ posts, I learned even more than I had in the lessons by myself. It’s really helpful being able to read others’ opinions on certain things, especially with the “listening to stories” assignment. People who listened to different broadcasts learned different techniques, and people listening to the same broadcasts focused on different techniques. I found myself learning a lot from what other people were learning, than from just what I learned by myself. And that’s probably the most important part of looking at other peoples’ blogs.

You don’t learn much just from listening to yourself.

[Post on Comments]

So, what I learned this week in a nutshell…

Audio storytelling is very similar to traditional storytelling, but it’s also extremely hard in that sense. You have to be careful about how you do things, so that you still sound like a unique human being. I learned that music is really important in many different ways when doing audio storytelling and podcasts, as it helps the listeners follow along. I learned that audio assignments are really fun, and that I am definitely a hands-on kind of learner when it comes to doing stuff like this. And I learned that it is really important to read what other people are learning, so you can learn from each other.

I can’t honestly say I have any complaints. This class so far is teaching me a lot of things about myself, about other people, about the internet, and about storytelling. I thought as an English Major I would know a thing or two about telling stories, but I only know how to do it with paper and ink and actual visible words. I’m learning that there is so much more to storytelling than just that, and it’s a lot of fun.

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