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Topics for Brief Workshops

available from Doug Lipman

Doug Lipman is a highly experienced workshop leader,
who can offer workshops in a variety of formats.

This document gives descriptions of workshop topics for brief workshops (as opposed to multi-day workshops) from one hour to about four hours in length--or even all day.

Doug will be happy to create a workshop specifically for your needs. Or you can choose from over 50 different brief-workshop topics, divided into the following areas of interest:

Topics for brief workshops

Storytelling Skills

These workshops give adult tellers the essential tools of the storyteller.

Coaching Mini-Workshops
Typically four or five hours long, these Coaching Mini-Workshops give a chance for 4 or 5 people to get individually coached. An easy way to give a boost to your storytelling!
Coaching Storytellers
Coaching can be more supportive than traditional "critiquing," and become more effective in helping us move ahead.

This workshop will consist partly of a "master class" in which two or three volunteers will tell 5-minute excerpts from stories and receive coaching; and partly of a brief how-to for coaching storytellers of all ages.

Doug Lipman also offers workshops on detailed aspects of coaching practice. His coaching services also include private consultations and multi-day workshops.

Music and Stories
In this workshop, you will learn how to add music to stories. You will learn to use music in stories to add:
  • mood
  • cultural flavor
  • a chance for participation
  • a heightened sense of structure and emotional focus.

"Music" includes the use of your voice, body, and "found sounds," so you don't have to feel like a musician to benefit.

The Tools of the Storyteller
Oral language, the language of the storyteller, has its own tools--its palette of colors, its brushes.

Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the storyteller's toolbox, and how to translate a written story into a face-to-face experience while retaining its emotional essence.

What Do I Do When...? Problem Solving Around Storytelling.
This workshop addresses the most common questions that beginners have about telling stories:
  • How can I remember the story?
  • Do I have to memorize exactly?
  • What if I get stage fright?
  • What if I start to lose the group?
The instructor will tell a sample story, take questions from the audience, then lead the group in exercises for solving their storytelling problems.
What's Going On Here? Frame Analysis and Storytelling
Frame analysis is a theoretical model from linguistics and sociology that can help intermediate and advanced storytellers understand aspects of what we do--and of what we're trying to do.

This workshop will provide a vocabulary that makes it easy to understand--and solve--certain practical problems that storytellers encounter, including our options for:

  • communicating expository material (what the audience needs to know in order to understand the events)
  • incorporating dialog
  • translating from written sources into oral stories
  • changes of scene, time, and place
  • the temptations to use humorous effects that may weaken the audience's sense of "what's going on."

Topics for brief workshops

The Sources and Uses of Stories

Stories come from personal experience, from oral tradition, and from your imagination. They can be used in the service of community, leadership, and for personal growth. Each of these workshops explores a particular topic in depth.

Developing Personal Stories: A Master Class
Doug will briefly explain his principles of coaching, then work with a few volunteers on their personal stories. Doug's coaching will emphasize the particular problems of the personal story:
  • shaping
  • clarifying the role of the narrator
  • moving from personal experience to artistic message.
Fairy Tales from Personal Stories
Using Max Luthi's theory of fairy-tale style, Doug has developed a method of creating a fairy tale from the emotional material of a personal experience. You will:
  • learn the characteristics of fairy-tale symbols
  • learn the steps and pitfalls involved in this technique, and
  • watch Doug lead a volunteer through some of the steps of the process.
Finding Multicultural Folktale Variants
Folklorists have catalogued thousands of variants of folktales from around the world. As storytellers, we can use these catalogues to:
  • develop our own versions of traditional tales
  • to help our students do the same, or
  • to present a multicultural curriculum of story variants.
This workshop will:
  1. introduce the principal research tools for finding variants
  2. show procedures for locating variants, and
  3. give some tips on what to do with the variants once they are found.
The Story That Needs to Be Told
What story needs to be told in your life? Whether you see yourself as a storyteller or not, there may be a story inside you that wants to emerge. What kind of story is it?
  • is it a personal story?
  • is it a traditional, or literary story that has "gotten under your skin;" or
  • do you even know for sure what story it is?
What keeps you from telling it? Is it:
  • shyness,
  • the sensitive nature of the story,
  • lack of an audience, or
  • lack of confidence that you could tell it?
In this workshop, the instructor will tell his experiences with such stories.
Then you'll have a chance to
  • talk about your story,
  • begin a telling of it if you choose, and
  • get help solving whatever problems may have kept you from telling the most important story: the one that wants to be heard.
Storytelling and Leadership
Storytellers in our society--like other artists and educators--tend to get be treated as superfluous and irrelevant. At the same time, leaders are usually seen as competitive, power-hungry bearers of out-sized burdens. But thinking of ourselves as leaders can actually make our work stronger, easier, and more effective.

The concept of leadership that Doug will present can help us

  • develop stories,
  • nurture our storytelling communities,
  • deal with professional relationships, and even
  • make our marketing more human.
Leadership is an appropriate stance for storytellers in any setting and at any level of experience.
Storytelling for Personal Growth
Telling stories is a part of everyday life--and an art form. When we tell stories, we transmit images that have the power to heal.

At the same time, the blockages in our storytelling can call attention opportunities for growth.

In this workshop, you'll learn techniques for using storytelling--public or private--to aid your personal growth and that of others.

Your Life, Your Story
Our lives--and the lives of our parents and ancestors--have many stories in them. By telling some of those stories, we learn about our lives, our families, and our society.

In this workshop, Doug will present examples of how personal material from your family, work, school, and fantasy can be made into a powerful story. You will have a chance to begin the process yourself.

Topics for brief workshops

Coaching Skills

As described in more detail in Coaching Services, Doug Lipman has pioneered a supportive, effective approach to helping storytellers improve. His general workshop on Coaching Storytellers is described above.

The following workshops each describe a single aspect of good coaching.

The Art of Creative Appreciations
Learn how to be skillful and creative in giving praise--and in helping others give you the kind of appropriate appreciation you need. Doug will talk about the importance of giving appreciations thoughtfully, honestly, and creatively. He will outline the kinds of appreciation--each with its own value. Then he'll choose volunteers to tell brief stories, and guide the group in learning to use appreciations to help the tellers meet their goals.
Believing in the story's success
What do you do when a story--your own or another's--fails? Do you give up on developing that story? Doug will describe the two pillars of a more positive approach:
  1. recognizing the diversity of ways to succeed
  2. finding the valid artistic impulse that lies behind every story and becoming its ally.
Doug will then outline ways to search for the artistic impulse, and will demonstrate by coaching two or three volunteers. (To be coached in this workshop, please bring a story that is not working!)
The Four Obstacles and How to Overcome Them
When storytellers don't succeed, there must be an obstacle for them to overcome. The first step in overcoming an obstacle is to identify the kind of obstacle the storyteller faces. Only then can the teller obtain the correct kind of help.

In this workshop Doug will describe:

  • the four major kinds of obstacles
  • how to identify them, and
  • what types of help they require.
He will demonstrate the identification and overcoming of obstacles by coaching a small number of volunteers.
How to ask helpful questions: keeping the teller in charge
Every since Socrates, great teachers have asked great questions. In this workshop, Doug will help tellers and teachers learn to use the power of the well-framed question, discussing:
  • the kinds of questions and their appropriate uses
  • how to use questions to empower the teller and replace advice-giving
  • how to relate questions to the "pyramid of decisions" involved in interpreting a story, and
  • Doug's own list of favorite questions.
Doug will demonstrate by coaching a small number of volunteers--encouraging the participants to ask helpful questions throughout.
How to keep the teller in charge
Whenever a storyteller gets help--from friends, coaches, rehearsal buddies, or a swapping circle--the first challenge is to keep the teller empowered, not a victim of criticism. Doug will give helpful ground-rules and examples to explain:
  • how helpers can maintain the role of midwife--rather than co-creator
  • how the teller can fulfill the artistic responsibility to give honest direction to the helper's efforts.
Doug will demonstrate by coaching a small number of volunteers.

Topics for brief workshops

Communication skills for professionals

Over a twenty-year career as a storyteller and coach, Doug has discovered techniques and basic principles that apply to many forms of oral and even written communication.

Communication and Imagery
Most oral communication is based on three primary sensory modes:
  • visual
  • auditory
  • kinesthetic.
Many teachers and students, however, develop one type of imagery to the exclusion of the others.

In this session, you will be introduced to techniques for calling on all three modes to enhance your perception and your presentation of a story, presentation, or other oral communication.

The Most Important Thing Is...The Most Important Thing
When planning any communication--whether written, recorded or oral--you have a hierarchy of goals. The most common communication error is to let low-priority goals obscure high-priority information.

In this hands-on workshop, volunteers will have a chance to work with Doug to select and enhance their own priorities within a story, lecture, grant proposal, ad, etc. Bring an idea to work on!

Polishing Stories for Presentation
Are you thinking of "going public" with your lecture, storytelling or other presentation?

Doug Lipman, a professional storyteller who has helped many beginning and professional storytellers and other communicators, will talk about the important issues:

  • repertory
  • ethics and copyright
  • program-design
  • adapting your performance style to different settings
  • taking seriously your role as storyteller and your impact on your listeners.
Bring your questions!
Tales About Telling: the Uses of Stories
Doug will tell tales from various cultures that illustrate different ways that stories touch us:
  • by giving us indirect images
  • by surprising us
  • by establishing an alternative kind of truth
  • ...and in still more ways.
Participants will be challenged to apply what they learn to the ways they use stories to approach other people.
Transforming an Audience
Your audience may be a board room, a single person, or a crowd of thousands. Your message may be a performance, a statement, a request, or a challenge.

You can learn to use your SELF--as expressed in your posture, voice, gesture, and facial expressions--to help an audience transcend their limitations and defenses and glimpse their true, powerful, compassionate selves.

We'll explore the techniques and the areas of growth that will enable us to communicate in a way that helps our audiences become transformed.

Topics for brief workshops

The Business of Storytelling

Our society requires most artists to master the business of our art. Out of self-defense (well, he did come to enjoy it) Doug has learned more about the business of being a free-lance performer, teacher, and consultant than he ever set out to.... And he shares it with his usual clarity and love.

Brochure Design for the Independent Presenter/Performer
Many of us--educators and other professionals as well as storytellers--find ourselves promoting our presentation or our performing services via a brochure.

What are the most important things to keep in mind when designing a brochure?

Doug Lipman, who is NOT a design professional, will share some of the expertise he has gathered in over 25 years of self-publicizing his music and storytelling.

In particular, he will help you consider creative, money-saving alternatives to the traditional brochure. Bring your own fliers and thoughts for future fliers.

Finding Your True Market
Business does not have to be heartless! It can flow from the same love and creativity that inspire you to tell stories.

The most effective marketing helps you discover and tell to the audiences that you love--and that love you.

This workshop will begin the processes of:

  • guiding you to your unique niche,
  • refining your vision as an artist in society,
  • developing your natural storytelling audiences, and
  • creating marketing plans to turn your vision into reality.

Low-Tech Artist Meets High-Tech Tool: Using a Macintosh Computer to Organize Your Free-Lance Performing
Doug Lipman, who has organized his storytelling/music business with a Macintosh computer since 1984, will introduce the software he uses to automate time-consuming tasks and to facilitate creative work.

He'll feature FileMaker Pro, a database program that can automate the sending of confirmation letters, etc.

He will also answer individual questions about computer use for free-lance performers.

Making an Audiocassette
Learn how to decide whether in makes sense to make a tape.
Learn the most important considerations in:
  • choosing stories,
  • choosing a recording studio,
  • recording,
  • making a cover,
  • getting help, and
  • marketing your final product.
Whether you are in the process of recording or are just considering the possibility, this workshop will help you create a tape:
  1. with artistic integrity
  2. that furthers your purposes as a storyteller.
Doug has on-line articles about when and how to make a recording.

Topics for brief workshops

Storytelling skills (for those who work or live with children)

Storytelling is easy, powerful, and fun. What better recommendation for incorporating it in your life with children! Doug's "everyone can do it" attitude makes it clear that storytelling is natural and universal--for adults to learn as well as for children.

Children As Storytellers
Learn to introduce storytelling through the medium of story games; before your children realize it, they'll be performing stories for each other!
Then use "formula tales" to get them telling and adapting traditional tales.
Learn to help children:
  • create and adapt stories to tell,
  • help each other improve their stories, and
  • improve their ability to tell them.
Helping Teachers Become Storytellers
Learn to take stories off of the page and bring them to life! Storytelling:
  • complements reading-aloud-time,
  • excites the imagination, and
  • stimulates creative writing and oral language development.
This workshop teaches the basics of beginning storytelling for classroom teachers, including:
  • tactics for learning and remembering stories,
  • a look at what makes children want to listen, and
  • tips on how to learn stories in a hurry.
A non-threatening, "can-do" workshop for any teacher!
Making stories participatory
Learn how to turn a story into a face-to-face event that involves an audience:
  • physically,
  • vocally, and
  • emotionally.
Use participation techniques, not as frivolous gimmicks, but as ways to enhance the story's central meanings.
Stories That Tell Themselves
Some stories are easy to tell because they have a pattern to them. The pattern repeats, building to a climax--often rhythmic, always fun.

In this session, you'll learn some of these formula tales from several cultures, and how to tell them in a way that conveys your own values.

These stories are especially suited for young children, but can be adapted for any age audience.

Story Games
How can a group begin to tell stories with a minimum of self-consciousness and a maximum of success? Story games!

Weave these delightful games into your story sessions--some are from oral traditions, some are original--and your group will experience the basic principles and skills of storytelling before they realize how much fun they are having! We'll also look at how to adapt the games for specific themes or for any subject of the curriculum. Want a written reference? Doug has written a book on story games.

Storytelling and Imagery
Storytelling is based on three primary sensory modes:
  • visual,
  • auditory, and
  • kinesthetic.
Many teachers and students, however, develop one type of imagery to the exclusion of the others.

In this session, you will be introduced to techniques for calling on all three modes to enhance your perception and your presentation of any story or other oral communication.

Topics for brief workshops

Storytelling in the Curriculum

Storytelling is not so much a subject itself; it is a way of teaching other subjects. These workshops explore a few of the ways that storytelling makes it easier to present information and ideas.

Making Up Stories For Special Occasions
Have you ever wished you had a story that suited a particular holiday or special event? In this workshop, you'll learn how to:
  1. start with a value or concept that you wish to convey,
  2. choose an appropriate "formula tale" as a basis for a plot, and then
  3. adapt the tale to suit your purposes.
You'll have the instructor's help in planning and beginning your own story.
New Tales From Old
From storytelling to creative writing, this workshop presents two related activities that help students create their own written or oral tales based on multicultural, traditional models.

You'll learn how to help students contribute details from their own imaginations and lives as they shape traditional story structures into tales they can proudly call their own.

Also included are tips on using these techniques and activities to tie in with almost any other subject.

Stories About Diversity and Human Differences
In what ways can stories be "about" diversity or human differences? What explicit or implicit messages do we want stories to present?

This workshop will provide some working hints about:

  • finding traditional tales that speak to diversity
  • making up our own stories with the messages we seek.
Bring your own successes and questions to share.
Stories From Historical Documents
Make history come alive!

A personal letter becomes a window to the conditions and spirit of the time and place in which it was written. Once your students have learned to look through this window--using the first activities you'll learn in this workshop--they will be eager to turn loose their imaginations.

The remaining activities--described here more briefly--will give your students an opportunity to create their own stories.

These highly motivating procedures (for grades three through adult) will personalize the issues from any period of history.

Storytelling Bridges the Generation Gap
Storytelling provides a common ground for elders and children to:
  1. meet each other and
  2. dispel the stereotypes that each age group has about the other.
At the same time, the usual storytelling interests of each age group can be incompatible:
  • elders typically place a high emphasis on truth in stories, while
  • children value the power of fantasy.
This workshop presents a model for an inter-generational curriculum that teaches children interviewing skills through specially designed story-games, and helps them elicit true stories from elders that the children will enjoy learning to retell.
Teaching Interviewing Skills Through Story Games
To gather oral history, students must learn to interview family members and other adults.

This workshop presents specially designed story-games that teach children interviewing skills and etiquette.

The art of interviewing becomes not only entertaining, but also a forum to teach other skills, including:

  • imagination,
  • reasoning,
  • literary structure, and
  • the difference between oral and written language.

Topics for brief workshops

Easy Music (for those who work or live with children)

If you can talk, you can sing! These workshops make music available to children every day. Those with musical experience will discover flexible ways to present and adapt songs and rhymes. Those who have been discouraged from music-making (by our society's mistaken idea that only some can make music) will learn how to give children the message that music is for everyone.

Action Songs
The perfect music for squirmy bodies, rainy days, high-energy children, shy children! Participants will learn songs that are
  • energetic,
  • quiet,
  • cumulative,
  • challenging, or
  • just plain silly
--and how to find and adapt other songs and rhymes for use with movements.
Adapting Singing Games to Fit Your Classroom
Traditional singing games are fun! Even more, they are educational.
In this workshop, you'll learn basic forms of singing games:
  • choosing
  • chasing
  • hiding
  • forming lines & circles.
These few basic forms can be adapted endlessly to support your curricular and social goals. No music experience needed!
Children Make Up Songs
Children are natural song-writers!

This workshop (which can consist of one or more sessions) strips away the mystique around song-writing, and guides classes step-by-step through the process of creating a song about a subject of their choice.

The process is guaranteed to raise students' confidence in their creative abilities.

Guitar for Anyone: One-Chord Songs
EVERYONE will leave this workshop able to play a dozen songs on the guitar.

Even if you've never taken a guitar from its case, you can learn these specially-selected folk songs--from several different cultures.

If you already play, use these songs for practicing strums--and for teaching guitar to children.

Bring a tape recorder and a guitar.

Kodaly Music Education: An Introduction
Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly spearheaded a revolution in his country's schools, based in part on reclaiming the musical culture of his people.

Doug--who holds the Academic Year Certificate from the Kodaly Musical Training Institute--will tell the story of Kodaly's efforts, explaining the principles that Kodaly enunciated, and demonstrate applications to U.S. music education.

Language Stimulation Through Songs and Stories
This workshop presents structured activities that are so enjoyable, only the teacher will know that this is part of the language curriculum!

Activities address four basic aspects of language:

  1. Use
  2. Meaning
  3. Form
  4. Speech
These language-building activities include songs, stories, and games highlighting: rhyming
  • letter names and sounds
  • voice quality
  • fluency
  • asking questions
  • giving directions
  • turn-taking
  • expressing wishes and desires
  • and time, number, color and directionality concepts.

Young children will love these participatory songs, rhymes and fun-filled story games!

Making Up Songs & Rhymes for Special Occasions
You may not consider yourself a musician or even a singer, but you can make up songs and rhymes (tuneless songs!) for holidays or other events--and help children do the same.

In this workshop, you'll learn how to use folk songs as models for new songs, including:

  • movement songs
  • echo songs, and
  • songs in which your students make up new verses.
Music Throughout the Day
Chores, transitions, travel, waiting, etc., can be enhanced and lightened by the evocative and playful aspects of music.

By the end of this workshop, you'll know powerful techniques for adapting songs and rhymes to incorporate them into:

  • curriculum
  • daily routines, and
  • problem situations.
You'll learn to find and use folk rhymes, the songs that don't have to be sung! Most of all, you'll build your confidence in bringing simple music into the preschool classroom.
Rhymes: the Songs With No Singing Needed!
Almost all the activities that help songs succeed--making up verses, making up movements, games, etc.--can also be done with rhymes.

Rhymes have ninety percent of the music of songs, and only ten percent the embarrassment for the musically shy adult.

These rhymes will transform your circle times as well as transitions, chores, and other daily events.

Songs About Feelings
A song can pose an open-ended question for children, and be a vehicle for incorporating their responses into a shared experience.

Learn folk songs and rhymes that can be used to foster verbalization of moods, resentments, favorite things, etc.

Learn ways to introduce and adapt songs for children's emotional needs.

Songs That Teach Concepts
Songs can introduce and reinforce concepts for young children.

We'll learn songs and rhymes for:

  • number concepts
  • language concepts
  • calendar and other concepts
We'll also explore ways to adapt them for the needs of your children and your curriculum.
Superhero Play and Preschoolers
Only if you understand the roots of superhero, ninja, and other violent fantasy play can you make intelligent, flexible decisions about boundaries, banning the play, etc.

Doug will outline the developmental issues causing children to be so receptive to these images, their struggles with:

  • power
  • competence
  • violence
  • sex roles, and
  • the expression of feelings.
In longer or multi-part versions of this workshop, Doug will also teach songs, games and stories that circumvent superhero play by speaking directly to the underlying needs.
Using Rhythm Instruments
If you think that passing out rhythm sticks to twenty children leads to unmusical're right!

In this workshop, you'll learn structured, enjoyable activities to introduce rhythm instruments to children--in a way that encourages:

  • listening
  • cooperation
  • respect for the instruments, and
  • musical understanding.
The "instruments" will range from our own bodies, to newspapers, to simple home-made instruments.



Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
Copyright©2003 Doug Lipman