Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The Power of Music
I have always been interested in the use of music (songs) in language teaching/learning. I consider myself a very "musical" person. Some of my friends make jokes because they say I always have a song for any situation. I must admit it's quite true and more often than not I find myself saying "Hey...it reminds me of a song..." I have even been thinking about singing. Some say I have a strong "powerful" voice and they may be right. However, I have never tried singing and as a perfectionist I'd certainly have to spend hours with vocal lessons and all that. I believe no one can deny music is a very integrating tool if I can put it that way. It is a way to connect people and many times I think people do get together thanks to music. Now that we live in this globalized world it's even easier to actually get to know a lot more about other cultures and musical manifestations. I try to be kind of selective whenever I use music in the classroom. Honestly I don't like the idea of giving the students a song because it's been playing on the radio(sounds so old-fashioned)or because I would have nothing else to do in those last/first 10-15 minutes of the lesson. Whenever possible I try to find something connected to whatever subject we've been studying and if it's not the case I like to show them things they'd probably not come across if they were doing things by themselves. I must admit it's risky because you may simply choose something they "hate" and the whole idea would be a failure. So far I have been quite lucky. I have never ever expected to please everybody all the time - this is totally utopian,IMHO. I am a true believer that people surrender to real talent and quality. It may not be the kind of thing you would personally look for and when we think about music maybe you would not buy the CD/DVD let alone pay for a concert but as you are introduced to it you have to recognize its quality. And this has, as I said before, happened quite often throughout these almost 20 years I have been in the classroom. The video you find here is an example of the kind of music most of my students (teenagers and young adults) would not see if I had not found the appropriate time to share. Recently I had been teaching a lesson about storytelling and I remembered Loreena Mckennitt had this wonderful song (IMHO) called Penelope's Song based on the story of Penelope who waited for her beloved husband for more than twenty years- from The Odyssey by Homer.We had a brief discussion about the story and in every class there were 3-4 students who knew a lot about it so they could share with those who knew less or nothing. I prepared a short summary for the whole group, we listened to the song and had a traditional "fill in the gaps" activity with the lyrics and concluded with a group discussion about dedication, faithfulness, patience and other aspects which are clear in the story. The same has happened many times with some other artists like Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Alanis Morissette and some others. Now, enjoy another fantastic song by Loreena and also her reflections about a historical event which led into the composition of Dante's Prayer.
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