How to prepare for your Audio Legacy
Can I see the questions ahead of time?
In general, I do not divulge the questions ahead of time and there’s a good reason why. It’s been my experience that if the questions are provided ahead of time, people either over prepare and the result is a wooden interview with which no one is happy or they answer the questions immediately and the recorder is not running. Unfortunately, if people have already told a story once, it’s nearly impossible to get them to tell the story again in the same manner. The on-tape rendition is always—without fail-- a much briefer, flatter and less vivid version.
Is there anything I need to know?
Microphones are a lot more sensitive than people realize and will pick up the darndest things. Although I always warn my clients ahead of time, when people are talking it’s quite natural for them to want to do something with their hands. At one point, I used clip on microphones with which people would invariably fiddle. The end result sounded like a hurricane, so…
To ensure you get the best possible finished recording
No playing with the mics.
No playing with the recorder.
No sucking candies.
No drinking (if possible). We can stop for a short break if necessary.
No audiences. Listeners will often jump in to ‘help’ with facts or memories, which interferes with the process, confuses the speaker and garbles the recording.
Does it always need to be an 'interview' scenario with prepared questions?
No. There are a variety of approaches that can be taken with an interview. For example, pictures or memorabilia may be utilized to prompt memories or an open strategy may be used with a story teller. Usually, however, questions are chosen from a master set which give a good life overview. The questions will obviously be different for a veteran, for example, than for a home-maker or a priest.
Uncle Max says Aunt Helen doesn't remember anything right! What's up with that?
No two people will remember an event the exact same way. This does not mean that Uncle Max or Aunt Helen’s recollections are incorrect, but rather that they had different perspectives. No two people are going to remember events exactly the same way, so keep that in mind if someone starts complaining. They could both be right.
In addition, a story may warp over time into different renditions (kind of like when you played “telephone” as a child). The important lesson in this is to accept the beauty of the various renditions and remember that those two perspectives can enhance each other and make the final story much richer. Remember that. It’s important.
Why audio and not video or books?
Well, quite simply because it’s better. How often do you listen to your favourite song? Compare that to how often you watch your favourite movie or read your favourite book. It’s easier and more convenient to listen to audio. It’s also much faster to produce and less expensive to purchase. A simple two hour legacy recording can be purchased for less than $500, compared to $10,000 - $40,000+ required for a book or a video.
What happens now?
People are more comfortable in their own homes where they open up more easily, so we will come to you. The format of the interview may differ, depending upon the person. I have a repository of questions to choose from that encourage people to talk about their early lives and their parents and grandparents. That said, the questions or format will be somewhat different for those in palliative care, taking a more thoughtful approach, inviting introspection and different again for a real storyteller, who may prefer to take the lead.
Regardless, relax! It’s going to be fun! Out of the hundreds of recordings already done, every single one of them has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both the speaker and their family. We’ll set an appointment time and someone from Audio Legacy will arrive at your home for the recording. After talking for a few minutes, we’ll begin recording with simple, “easy” questions like ‘What is your full name?’ (including maiden name) and ‘when were you born?’. After that, we’ll progress to more in depth questions about your family and your family’s history. What we’re looking for are stories, however, so dates and exact places don’t really matter. If the genealogical information is already recorded somewhere and you can look it up, so can your family-- so relax. This isn’t a quiz!
Is there any way I can prepare?
At the very end of the interview, you will be asked some questions like:
What were the happiest/proudest moments of your life?
Do you have any words of wisdom or messages you’d like to pass on to your children and your children’s children? (For example: things you learned later in life that you wish you’d learned earlier?)
How would you like to be remembered?
Please don’t worry about “preparing” your answers ahead of time, but rather, allow them to percolate in the back of your mind. They’re very big questions!
What we’re trying to create is an audio “picture”-- through stories, anecdotes and memories-- of not only your life, but the life of your parents and grandparents.
It’s a fun process and you’re going to enjoy it, I promise!
~Janet Nahirniak, Owner