Cory Crossman: Words that tell stories

Whether online or offline, your child’s best teacher is you. We’re pleased to share words from local community leaders on how they connect, create experiences, and share the love that builds happy, confident, successful kids. No screens required!

Daily life is storytelling. 

Every day we teach kids about this amazing world of ours. Taking a minute to stop and ask a simple question opens a dialogue with a child. I love how kids approach surroundings that we as adults blow right past. This curiosity presents opportunities for storytelling. 

Storytelling takes many shapes, including song. There isn’t a more natural form of storytelling than songwriting. We’ve all been struck by a song that stops us in our tracks and jolts our head around to fixate on the story being told.

Music is fundamental to our family life. It’s ingrained in our daily activities from sunrise through to sunset. We’re social people, and connect with our friends through music. A major goal for my wife and I has been to include music, literature and experience-based learning in our daughter’s life. 

The night our daughter was born I played guitar to her. Music was a way for me to connect with her that night, and remains a way for us to connect today. I can’t think of a better way to build memories than singing songs and dancing around with her.

Music is a constant in our daughter’s life, to the point where it became one of the first ways she communicated with us. Getting her to start speaking largely came out of listening to music. The first song she sang was Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys. The ‘ba ba ba’ at the start was a great way for her to first learn to communicate. Nowadays I’m amazed at the sentences and words she picks out of the songs we listen to. 

As she grows up I’m happy to say that her musical sensibility has also grown. Along with traditional children’s songs she has really gravitated towards some our favourite music, which has helped her to pick up melodies, rhythms and, importantly, words. The repetitive nature of some of these songs makes it easy for her to learn and sing along.  

While storytelling happens through song and music, most people make the connection to books. Reading goes beyond literature- it’s an experience. I think this is especially true at a young age, and so we try to make it to the Central Library once a week to check out new books and explore. These trips get her engaged in conversation and learning, and are a fun way to enjoy one another’s company. 

Like many young families, story time is bed time’s main event at our hosue. We read a book, recap the day, tell another story about a fun time, and finish up with a song. Picking a song to sing is another great exercise to get her talking and using words. She debates one song over another, and then tells us why we need to sing the song she has selected. This often ends with another set of questions! 

Our daughter is three years old, now, and one constant she has is being able to connect with us through music and song. Music allows us to express ourselves and connect on a different level. So for us, storytelling always leads to music, and both are an essential element in our everyday lives. 

Cory Crossman is the Music Industry Development Officer for the City of London’s culture office, where he works to implement London’s music strategy. He’s spent eight years as the festival director for the KOI Music Festival in Kitchener, Ontario, and is co-owner of Civilian Printing. He lives in Kitchener with his wife and daughter.