06 March 2012

Yo Ho Ho...The Benefits of Developing a Pirate Voice

Several years ago I became acquainted with International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept 19th, you've got plenty of time).  The day harkened me back to swashbuckling tales of Blackbeard and Long John Silver (the pirate, not the restaurant chain).  After learning about this fabulous (probably not a term most pirates used) day I went home and began talking like a pirate to the kiddos.  Immediately they were enthralled, and immediately I knew I had to cultivate and work on my pirate lingo and lore.

Jump ahead five or so years to last week.

Last week I was called to substitute for the librarian at the school my progeny attend.  Librarian.  I couldn't think of a higher honor then being a librarian (think of it as my George Costanza always wanted to be a pretend architect/marine biologist).  I thought how hard can this be, let the kids check out books, sing some songs about books, recommend my favorites, and maybe even read a story or two.  To my surprise the librarian left lesson plans, and worksheets, and books for me to read to the kids, and told me they were not allowed to check out books since she would be gone that day.  Ah man.

Again I still did not see any complications: worksheets, detailed lesson plans, and books dutifully marked for me.  All in all it was not a difficult day - other than kids being kids: a little noisy, letting stinkers, asking to get a drink, sharpening pencils every five minutes, picking their nose, fighting over where to sit on the carpet, & etc.  But the hardest part, believe it or not, was reading to them.  How many of you have read out loud for 15-20 minutes for seven periods?  It is quite the strain on an adult voice.  Plus the kids drift in and out of the story.

Okay reader, here is where you go aha, they only drift in and out of the story if you don't have a pirate voice!

I was absolutely amazed at how they paid attention when I would slip into my pirate voice.  It didn't matter if they were almost asleep, day dreaming, or salivating over the cookie in their lunch as soon as I would start talking like a pirate they would perk up and give me their full attention.

I do not have many voices, only three, and those kids demanded all three.  They did not ask for them but to keep their attention I had to pull them all out.  Other voices, yeah I have two others.  One, the southern lady - Why, Sylvester I've never didn't know you could grow tomatoes so big.  And Two, the Jack Perkins voice which Darrell Hammond dramatized on Saturday Night Live.  When the Kindergardeners and First graders came to the library I read them biographies.  After reminding them what a biography was, and explaining the Greek etymology (probably went a little overboard there) to them I said kids this is a "biography" in my voice, then had them repeat after me.

you only need to watch the first five seconds to hear the voice.

I am curious if of the kids when asked what they did in school today went, "We read a bi-o-gra-fee"  And yes there aint much difference between my Jack Perkins and pirate voice.  Get to work folks, you never know when you may have to lull a pack of kids to a workable calm.  I think I may even try this on this Sunday during the sermon...probably not but I will at least put this into my pastoral toolbox.

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