Intro from Jay Allison: Participants come to the Transom Story Workshop with the intention of creating change in their own lives. That makes it exciting for everyone. The class of Spring 2012 came from all over the country and Canada to spend two months here in Woods Hole. They were led by their gifted teacher, Rob Rosenthal, and dedicated teaching associate, Sarah Reynolds, along with a roster of visitors from This American Life, Studio 360, PRX, The Kitchen Sisters, and other Transom friends and staff. Most of the nine students had never made a radio story before. When they left, they had made stories as good or better than those you hear every day on nationally-distributed public radio programs. If you don’t believe me, listen to their work.
About “Mighty Tiny”
As each of us announced our Creative Life topics, I started to worry. A ukulele class seemed too nice, too happy. We had just had a long talk about the necessity of tension in a piece, and when I thought about my proposed profile on a ukulele class, I couldn’t find the tension. I began to envision some corny fluff piece where, in an extra thick Minnesotan accent, I say something like “Boy, they’re really making some music together on Cape Cod!” NOOO! That wasn’t the kind of radio that I wanted to make.
Despite my worries, I moved forward with the project. I was most interested in what the ukulele instructor, Steve Gregory, had to say about the instrument. Steve believes that every single person is musical and that the ukulele is the ideal instrument to tap into that potential. This idea intrigued me, so I asked Steve to connect me with some ukulele students that were trying their hand at music for the first time. That’s where the tension came in.
Susan Anarino and Lois Fornier had incredible narratives that illustrated just how powerful a ukulele can be. Susan told me that she used the ukulele to fill her recently empty home and Lois learned the instrument so that she could fulfill her father’s wish to have a musician in the family. I could never have anticipated these kinds of stories. I learned that I just needed to follow my instincts and trust that the tension would emerge, and in the case of Mighty Tiny, it did.
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