Singing For Their Lives

Intro from Jay Allison: Radio students from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia, came to live on Cape Cod for a couple of months to attend the Fall 2012 Transom Story Workshop. Rob Rosenthal and Sarah Reynolds ran the class with dedication, and made sure the students came away with skills enough to craft lovely pieces… which they did. The students found remarkable stories sitting under the noses of us who’ve been living here for decades. Come listen. It’s impressive to hear such work from a group of people just starting out, and it’s encouraging too, because there’s bound to be more of it.

Listen to “Singing for Their Lives”

About “Singing for Their Lives”

My story about music and dementia morphed during a discussion of focus sentences. I thought my story was about Denya LeVine and her journey as a musician. But I had this amazing active tape from a visit to a dementia unit. Rob suggested that my character was really dementia. Jay remarked early on that it might be best to just stay in one place, not follow Denya on multiple visits around the Cape. So, just one story. That was the first lesson.

Next was beginning to understand the importance of strong contrasts in a story. What it is like to live with the confusion that is dementia. And then, what happens when music is introduced and triggers memory and connection. Lesson #2: How to set up Denya’s visit, so as to sculpt the story with strong lines.

Lesson #3 is the one I learn over and over: that strong characters are everything. In this case, Denya is a guide to a world that is in some ways hidden away. She’s experienced and articulate. And she’s open to telling this story and reflective about what it means. John and Al? They are gifts.

Listen to More Pieces from this Story Workshop Class

Marnie Crawford Samuelson

Marnie Crawford Samuelson

Marnie is a documentary photographer and audio and multimedia producer. She's worked primarily as a still photographer – mostly for magazines. In the last few years, she has been shooting and directing short documentary videos – and that got her to audio. Which she likes, A LOT. She is eager to collaborate and looking forward to working sometimes on the visual side, other times on audio. She is especially interested in short, lean productions and in stories for non-profits. She is based in Boston and Cape Cod. In the winter, she is in San Francisco. Marnie's website is

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