Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unwelcome noises from machines

When I taught fourth grade, I was in a pilot program for a Community Music in the Curriculum project. We taught our children how to interview. They learned by interviewing each other and then writing a news article type of product. We even sent tape recorders home with them to talk with their grandparents' generation about music.

At the same time I began collecting stories of people in our community through recording our conversations and then transcribing them. The history committee in my little town is hoping to have a museum and these conversations will become a part of the collection. Now I'm onto a new project, collecting stories for a book about a schoolhouse in what the locals call the South Mountains. Same method. Same machine. It has served me well.

But tragedy. Last night, I plugged this trusty tape recorder into the socket and heard a strange bzzzz. I changed sockets. Same bzzzz. Several sockets later, I realized my recorder was on the verge of death. Now what? Should I change over to newer technology that would save me time by transcribing directly by voice recognition like so many people have suggested?

Alas! What will I do with the hundreds of casettes and their valuable contents? I did four interviews for the project yesterday alone and haven't transcribed one. I must have the recorder for that.

But more than that, I must hear the voice of the mountain people in my ear. I must capture their cadence and lilt and weariness and joys that only listening to the voices will allow. Modern conveniences have drawbacks and I'm not ready to relinquish my hours with these voices. Some things are worth spending time on.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Gretchen,

    Anything worth doing is worth spending time on. You've made this something worth doing. I'd want the voices of the mountain people if it were my project.

    Linda A.