top view of morning learning ukulele play process in bed
Language Learning Advice

All Language is Music

I found an article from blog.landr.com and came across these words: 

 “All language is music. The best lyrics unlock the music in all spoken words.” 

It really made me think… Maybe that is why I feel so connected to music and words all my life. Maybe it is because language is actually music. 

Shortly after embarking on my language learning journey the covid-19 pandemic started all of a sudden. I knew I had to spend even more time at home so I decided to learn the ukulele. I started playing the ukulele and writing songs in English, Spanish, and some other languages. The lyrics and melody took time to develop but they came to me almost as if they were within me all along. It may be strange to say but I truly believe that there is music everywhere. The beat of my heart is like the metronome to the songs in my life. Though, my life isn’t a musical production; it is full of vibrant sounds that form words that give meaning and inspire me everyday.  

I may not be fluent (yet) but I can write a song! 

Song-writing in my target languages has been transformative. It helps me connect with the language and create something new…something special. I take creative ownership for my original songs and that’s a powerful feeling. Self-expression through music gives me a chance to grow as a ukulele player, creative person, and as an avid language enthusiast. 

Below, I’ve outlined my process for song writing in my target languages.  Feel free to try it out for yourself and see what you create. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the finished product!

My process for song-writing in my target language

  1. Get inspired
  2. Know the message of the song 
  3. Write the lyrics 
  4. Create the melody 
  5. Practice and have fun

First, I have to get inspired. Not every idea turns into a song but I write all my ideas out on paper anyway. I might be inspired by a phrase, an emotion, or a memory. Inspiration can come when I least expect it so I like to jot down notes in my phone or on my notepad when I’m at my desk. When I have some inspiration I think about what message or story I want to convey through the song. Sometimes it’s a feeling that I want to communicate through a song like joyfulness or empowerment.

Next, I roll up my sleeves and start writing. I start small with a line or two and build the song from there. I usually have a beginning, a middle part (also known as the bridge of a song), and an ending. I like to keep my songs simple with relatively short stanzas. I usually sing through the song twice so I would write x2 by some parts just to remind myself to play it twice. When I write in Spanish I often have a few translator apps open so I can make sure that it’s grammatically correct and makes sense. I prefer to use multiple translating devices so I can compare the translation and select the ones that fits my message the best. I like to share my lyrics with a trusted Spanish speaking friend so that I can get their opinion and feedback.

When I’m happy with my lyrics and the layout I practice on my ukulele.  I play around with different chord combinations and strumming patterns while recording myself so I can remember the melody if I like how it sounds. Sometimes, I already started with a melody before even writing any lyrics because I freestyle on my ukulele so often. Naturally, it all starts coming together. I got the lyrics, the chord progression, and the strumming patterns. All that is left is PRACTICE. I like to practice late at night or early in the morning for some reason.  Practice is where the song can transform: meaning you can experiment further by making small changes to see what sounds better to your ears. 

Remember, There are no set rules when it comes to creating your next favorite, original tune. This is my personal process for song creation and the entire process can take anywhere from an hour to weeks. It just depends on how much time you’re willing to dedicate to creating the song.  You definitely don’t have to be a professional musician or study music theory to create original music.  Even simply creating parts of a song is fun. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 3+ minute fully developed song. 

Connection through song-writing

Song creation is so fun and makes me connect with my target languages on a personal level because I get to come up with the lyrics and create an emotional attachment to them. Honestly, some of my songs trigger SO MUCH emotion in me that I may tear up while playing the song, such as a song that I wrote in Spanish about Gung Gung, my late grandpa, who played the ukulele back in his time. My original songs are very meaningful to me so when I write them in another language the meaning is still there and , thus, strengthens my connection to the target language. 

  I have gone months without studying French (recently started using my French study program again), however,  I wrote one of my favorite songs in French that I keep coming back to because it’s a pleasure to play and sing. My French pronunciation was not the greatest but over the course of about five months singing my French song my pronunciation has improved. The repetition of a song not only helps the  pronunciation but also the  rhythm of a language sticks in my mind. I feel that every time I play my French song my pronunciation is getting a bit better.  

I think the topic of music and language is really interesting. They are truly interconnected. Do you create songs in your target language? Do you feel that music connects you to the language better?  

Con una sonrisa, 

Rosa Janelle

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