Storyteller Odds Bodkin is Back with Live School Shows!

Storyteller Odds Bodkin is Back with Live School Shows!

There’s nothing quite like watching hundreds of children sitting spellbound while laughing, singing and using their imaginations. Odds blends soaring acoustic music with amazing character voices to create movies for the mind for young listeners.

Learn about his live school shows specially designed for K-2 and 3-5 audiences.

A Teacher’s GOLDEN RULE Review:

“My goodness, words cannot express our ENORMOUS thanks and gratitude for your time and talents on Tuesday… The students were absolutely awe-struck (as was I and the other adults!)! I’ve waited on writing you because I wanted to gather the feedback for you and the biggest feedback I’ve gotten is “He is AWESOME!!” “He needs to come back!!” — Christina Catino, Music Teacher

Learn more at:


White Dove

White Dove

It was part of what used to make me very happy. Sitting in a big empty multi-purpose room in a school with my harp, guitars and PA system, with a half hour left over just to play music before the hundreds of children arrived for the show. I’d feel the harp music ripple through my fingers, filling the space with glorious sound. I’d be sipping at my black coffee. Often teachers would come in and stand to listen for a minute or so, smile and wave. “Can you come here every morning?” many would ask, as the harp music echoed down the halls. “It’s just so beautiful and peaceful.”

The children heard that music, too, in their classrooms. A faint, magical whisper that something special was about to happen.

And then close to the hour the principal would come over, or the arts liaison (usually a nice mom) and ask, “Mr. Bodkin, are you ready for them?”

“Bring them on in,” I’d reply. The doors would open.

Like goslings following mother goose, the little kindergarteners would usually arrive first with their teachers and sit on the floor about three feet away from me, row after row of them. They’d finally see who was playing the harp, and that it wasn’t a recording. Then the grades above them would arrive, sitting next in extending rows. These were shows for two hundred to five hundred kids, a growing sea of young faces. Often they wouldn’t say anything, forgetting to chitchat with their friends because of the music.

I’d finish one extemporization in a major key with a flourish, and they’d wildly applaud. I’d bow slightly, winking and lifting my finger, as if to say, “All right. See if you like this one,” and then launch into another piece in what I call Fairytale Minor, which is really just B minor but played in a certain lilting way. If kids came into the space talking, others who were already seated would shush them, which I found charming, and the most effective crowd control I could ask for.

And so as often as not, there was no reason for the principal to call them to quiet before the show by doing the double hand clap, the universal training American kids learn in school to signal when it’s time to quiet down. Since they were already quiet, at a heightened state of attention–the music having primed them for the listening–it usually wasn’t necessary. This was much to the surprise of the teachers, who I could tell were archly eyeing their problem children. What would they do? Act out? Embarrass the school? Ruin the show?

Instead, the principal would repeat what I’d asked her to say: “This is Mr. Odds Bodkin, and he’s here to tell you some stories.” No preamble about empathy, kindness, or walking in others’ shoes. “The stories will explain themselves,” I’d usually tell her beforehand. “We don’t need to mention those things.” And then I’d pull the harp aside and pick up the 12-string for the introduction. It was always the same:

“Well how’s everybody? Good?”

“Good!” they’d reply in unison.

“Good. Well, it’s a pleasure to be here. As you heard, my name is Odds Bodkin. Can you say that?”

A chorus of Odds Bodkins, or something close, would follow.

“That’s right, and believe it or not, here at the dawn of the 21st century, I make my living telling stories. Now, I have a few for you this morning, but before I can tell them, I need to offer you a thought, and the thought is this: if instead of being here at your school, you were in a movie theater getting ready to watch a movie, all you’d need to do to see the story the movie told would be to look up at the movie screen, and there the story would be. Same thing with television: you look at it, and there it is. But in what we’re going to do today, you don’t have to look at anything. You don’t even have to look at me. But I hope you’ll consider this thought: think about looking inside something. It’s your power of imagination, or your Mind’s Eye, and it’s right up here.”

At this point I’d tap my forehead. Some of the kids would wrinkle their brows and touch their own foreheads, wondering if they really did have an eye in there. “Now, I can offer you words, character voices, music and sounds. But it’s going to be up to you to be the moviemakers here. To take those things and in your Mind’s Eye spin them up into a kind of movie of your own making, and if you do that, then the stories will come to life, I’ll probably disappear, and we’ll have a really great time. So what do you think, deal?”

At this point, they’d all thunder back, “Deal!”

“Good enough, then,” I’d say, setting aside the 12-string, which I’d have been playing in an upbeat way all during this introduction. “I’ll put away my 12-string guitar, which I’ll play for you later, because my first story comes from Africa, and in order to tell it to you, I need to use this.” I’d reach down and pick up my sanza, or kalimba, as some folks call it, and plink a few notes. Instant delight on their faces. “This is my sanza. Can you say that word?”

“Sanza!” came the chorus.

Holding it up so all could see, I’d explain the instrument. “All it is is a little wooden box with a hole in it to let out the sound. And there are strips of metal of different lengths along it. The long ones make the low tones (plunk) and the short ones make the high tones (plink). And with it, I’ll tell you my first story. This sanza was made in South Africa, and so, too, this first story. It’s called The Tale of the Name of the Tree.

I’d make the sound of dry, singing savannah wind, tinkle the notes, and begin the story.


The reason I bring all this up is because for two years, I haven’t done any of it. Haven’t set foot inside a school to perform for kids, haven’t asked where the adult bathroom is, haven’t dodged crowds of munchkins in their brightly colored jackets, haven’t been offered cupcakes or cookies– none of it, not since March of 2020. Been on Zoom plenty of times, and Facebook Live, and recently I’ve begun doing live shows again for adults in Cambridge at a club called Grendel’s Den, but I haven’t set foot inside a single elementary school in all that time.

But now that the masks are coming off and the fears are waning, lo and behold, the schools are calling to book shows once again. Live, in-person shows. Performances in schools I visited often in that life I lived before the world came apart.

Come May, I’ll be back with the little kids, playing my harp in those big empty rooms before they file in. As I write this—as much to remember how to do it as anything else—I’m getting a lump in my throat. I really missed telling stories to schoolkids, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever do it again.

It’s as if after two long years, a magician has pulled away his dark cape to reveal the same white dove I’ve always loved, still there, still alive.


–Odds Bodkin


To book a show, go here.








Odds Bodkin’s Live and Zoom Shows Now Booking for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022

Odds Bodkin’s Live and Zoom Shows for Are Now Booking for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022!

Fully vaccinated and delighted to be back performing for live audiences, storyteller and musician Odds Bodkin is now booking live assembly performances for K-12 schools in New England and beyond. Plus a host of other incredible offerings for adult audiences. All shows are also available on Zoom.

Last year, Loyola University Maryland opted for their annual Iliad/Odyssey performance via Zoom, and 200 Classics and Honors students tuned in. That was Odds’ 13th annual September show for Loyola. But this year, he’ll be flying down in person with his 12-string guitar to regale his college audience once again. That’s 14 years in a row!

Special thanks to Gavin Bodkin, Odds’ son, for building a Zoom studio for his dad and engineering a host of appearances during the pandemic. Full day GOLDEN RULE residences for elementary schools in Merrimack, NH, complete with custom workshops, were completed to rave reviews (watch video). A Halloween show of Dark Tales of the Supernatural for Syracuse University. An Odyssey: Belly of the Beast performance for Old Greenwich School in Connecticut. An adult concert for a Long Island library. All took place on Zoom.

But now Odds is back live with his 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and other instruments. He’s ready to travel once again.

What is he offering?


GOLDEN RULE: World Stories About Empathy for K-2 and 3-6

FAIRY FOLKS AND OLD OAKS: Two Long Fairy Tales told with voices and 12-string guitars

DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL adult scary concerts for Halloween

DANIKA THE ROSE: A Blend of Dvorak’s Moravian Duets with an original Odds Bodkin fairy tale performed with sopranos Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer, available for concerts nationwide (the next show is for The Groton School on Jan. 9, 2022!)


STORYBLAST! Family concerts for libraries, churches and museums are also available.

Be sure to check out the storyteller’s amazing family recordings at Odds’ Shop!






THROUGH A TEACHER’S EYES: Odds Bodkin’s Zoom Storytellings for Schools/Watch Video

THROUGH A TEACHER’S EYES: Odds Bodkin’s Zoom Storytellings for Schools work well for 2021.

I’d just finished a long day on Zoom visiting a school full of 5th and 6th graders. Beginning with an hour-long show, GOLDEN RULE II–three fun and absorbing musical stories filled with conversation points about kindness and empathy–I followed up with six workshops. Laura Piccolo, the school’s Language Arts Coordinator, had sent me a list of topics she wanted covered. She’d even requested a workshop about how music enhances emotions in stories.

Here’s a video of our conversation that afternoon.

With the pandemic easing, not only am I always available via Zoom for schools, but I’ve decided to journey forth into the world again to do live shows.

Her school also purchased an EPIC DRIVE for its library–a collection of all my audio stories.


as well as copies of THE CRANE WIFE, one of my children’s picture books.

It was a full arts and literary experience for her school.

Visit to learn how you can bring such a program to your or your child’s school.



Hello, Odds!

My goodness, words can not express our ENORMOUS thanks and gratitude for your time and talents on Tuesday… The students were absolutely awe-struck (as was I and the other adults!)!

I’ve waited on writing you because I wanted to gather the feedback for you and the biggest feedback I’ve gotten is “He is AWESOME!!” “He needs to come back!!”! They LOVED your choice of stories, they were fully immersed and involved and captivated and your workshops were the perfect format to digest and disseminate these stories even farther into their true meaning! They really enjoyed getting to go deeper into the stories and their meanings with you and to learn more about you! Letting them have time to ask about you was perfect as well! You had clear evidence of being an educator previously, in the way you worked with the kids and how your broke down your lessons and how you were able to reach out/teach them! Your content and style was perfect! The format was perfect to hear everything as a full group and then let it “sink in” for a bit and then break it down more with you. 🙂 You are true treasure and I plan on spreading the word even more about you! I will even post your website on my web page, if you’re ok with that! 🙂

I look forward to hearing more of your tales soon!
Christina Catino
CSDA General Music, Chorus, Orchestra


If you know any elementary schools that could use a dose of storytelling and civility learning, tell them about GOLDEN RULE: WORLD STORIES ABOUT EMPATHY.

Odds Bodkin School Performances for 2018-2019

What better way to start the school year than with magical harp music echoing through your school’s halls? The children wonder where it’s coming from, and teachers stand smiling at their doors because they know Odds Bodkin is beckoning to his audience. Soon the children file in and see a man playing the harp, surrounded by instruments. Quietly, three hundred students sit, forgetting to talk to each other, and Odds weaves the rich music, preparing them for stories.

“By the time I’m ready to speak words, we’re all friends,” says the storyteller. “The music does it. It uplifts them. The harp is a crystalline, magical starship, it really is.”

And then the stories for GOLDEN RULE begin. Stories from around the world that teach empathy. A collection for K-2 audiences. Another for grades 3-5. All with ongoing music, blended with the words.

It’s literacy, performing arts and solid ethical learning for kids, all in one show. To learn how to bring Odds Bodkin to your children’s school this year, visit:

Elementary School







A school principal wrote me recently, commenting on GOLDEN RULE, my storytelling assembly for elementary kids. Sure, I tell stories for adults, but it’s close to my heart, this empathy issue. Kids raised without notions of civility and simple human kindness toward others––no matter what somebody else looks like or where they come from––just makes the bullies feel that power. In the long run, though, it hurts them just as much.

Although many Americans follow faith traditions, just as many don’t these days, and with that change has come a loss of religious teaching stories, traditionally told to kids by adults in their lives. In their absence and in the presence of cynical cartoons and visual games, the fabric of civility has worn thin in lots of children. It’s not their fault. They’re kids. They’re not born civil; they need to be taught why it’s important.

Be kind. Treat others honorably. Yes, you can say those things to kids, but nothing penetrates the cruelty they see in media like a spoken-world story told by an adult. Instead of saying “do this,” a good Golden Rule story simply offers a lesson about power and its uses. Kids can’t help but internalize its impact because they’ve been opened up. They’ve been opened up because their minds are overwhelmed. The boys. The girls. The ADHD kids, all attentive. With the voices, music and wild sounds, the storytelling is too evanescent for them to ignore.

At a public school in Massachusetts the other day, my young audience looked like the United Nations. Kids from everywhere. Never knowing what religions, if any, their families practice at home, I tell stories from non-religious wisdom traditions. Folktales from Japan, Ireland, Africa, India and Italy. And Aesop’s Fables from ancient Greece, which is about all I can fit into an hour. But I always ask the kids the same questions about them afterwards, and about the Golden Rule.

And if they’ve never heard “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” before they’ve attended a GOLDEN RULE assembly, they certainly know it by the time it’s over.

If kids don’t get these kinds of stories from adults in America when they’re young, stories that buoy up their best angels and sink into their souls, when they get to high school, more and more of them are so fragile and full of violence that they misuse their power and end up thinking it’s okay to bring guns to class, and all to often these days, in the ultimate act of bullying, to use them.


–Odds Bodkin



BOOKING NOW: World Stories About Empathy for Schoolchildren

I read countless news reports about kids treating one another badly in schools. Lately, it appears, things have grown worse. Telling kids how to behave is less effective than it’s ever been, it seems.

For some years now I’ve offered a school assembly program called GOLDEN RULE: World Stories About Empathy in two versions, K-3 and 3-5. Using ancient stories from world cultures, GOLDEN RULE taps the unconscious in kids and delivers a message while they’re completely entertained and having fun.

One principal called it “The best anti-bullying program we’ve ever had, hands down.”

If you know any schools who are facing this problem, find out about GOLDEN RULE and pass the word along.

–Odds Bodkin

THE ODYSSEY: Belly of the Beast this Friday at Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA. The public is welcome.

Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA presents The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, Odds Bodkin’s telling of Homer’s classic this Friday, January 12th at 6:30 p.m. With his 12-string guitar and panoply of characters and sounds, Odds will take the stage to offer this evening of entertainment and education for students and faculty. Generously, Lawrence Academy is also inviting the public to attend, free of charge.


The stars have aligned for Homer’s tales this coming January 2018 in Groton, Massachusetts. Two fine independent schools, Lawrence Academy and Groton School, have invited Odds Bodkin to perform his Homeric classics two weeks apart.

First, on January 12th at 6 p.m., Lawrence Academy hosts The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, Odds’ 75-minute storytelling powerhouse tale, as a performance for students and open to the public. Haunting 12-string guitar music, grafted adroitly onto Bodkin’s characters, plus narrative and uncanny vocal effects, all combine to take listeners through the beginning of Odysseus’s wild journey. Longing for his wife and son after ten years of war, he’s homeward bound from Troy at last, but the Fates intervene. The tale includes the Fall of Troy, Death on the Beach, the Great Storm, Isle of the Lotus Eaters and lastly, the deadly Cave of the Cyclops.

But Homer’s other great work, The Iliad, goes back in time to before Troy falls. And so Groton School has invited Odds to perform The Iliad: Book I, his hour-long psychodrama with music that explores everything from insulted goddesses to furious men at loggerheads on the battlefield. The show is at 8 p.m. on January 26th, 2017. Characters for Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Achilles, Agamemnon and a host of others bring the tale to life, along with Olympian themes performed on 12-string guitar.

Two of the greatest tales of Western literature, performed in modern storytelling style along with background lore, are coming to Groton, MA.

If you can’t be in New England next month, you can still experience them as an audio and a video, here at Odds Bodkin’s Shop.

Absolutely Gushing

The highest hilltop in Greenwich, Connecticut is the location of Sacred Heart, a fine school for girls. On the sunny day I was there last week, Long Island Sound was visible in the distance. In the school’s big empty auditorium, as I warmed up my 12-string guitar to perform The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, the doors were open. The PA was blasting and the music was lyrical, and as I played onstage I noticed girls peering in from the hall to listen. It takes me a half hour of playing to ready my hands for the seventy-minute story, and whoever’s in earshot gets to listen. They smiled and waved and I waved back. Sacred Heart School enrolls elementary through high school girls, and I’d been told by Megan, the English teacher who’d brought me in, who I’d not met before, to expect 5th and 9th graders. 5th was studying Greek mythology. 9th was reading The Odyssey.


So to give them something to listen to as they filed in, I decided to play them an overture. It’s a free-flowing exploration of my story’s musical leitmotifs. The 5th and 9th graders sat, but then other grades began to arrive. 4th graders, I found out later during the Q&A, 7th graders, and others. The auditorium kept filling up, which was fine with me, of course. I think it was the music’s Siren Song that wooed them in. That and a very civilized faculty willing to let them go, I suspect.


Afterwards I drove home on the Merritt Parkway in rush hour traffic and arrived back in New Hampshire five hours later, somewhat bedraggled and too tired to wonder how the show went. The next morning I received this email. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if things go well. That afternoon, I think things did.

Dear Odds, 

This morning all of the students arrived to school absolutely gushing about yesterday’s performance. In my classes this morning, all the girls wanted to discuss the wonder of the performance. We were all absolutely captivated. It was a magical and transportive experience. Thank you so much for giving us such a gift. We hope you will be able to visit us again. 

Kind Regards,
Megan Monaghan


Megan gave me permission to share her letter. Reactions like this remind me of why I got into this business, and I’m still in it, enjoying every rarefied moment. It’s an aesthetic delight for me, and kids never forget this show. If you know anyone who’d like to invite me to tell The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast at any elementary, middle school, high school or university, send them to this link. Kids don’t forget it. Why? Because their Muse has been summoned. It shocks them, since often it’s the first time they discover they’ve got one.