Music to learn verbs to

I’ve been doing avoir to the Pink Panther theme since finding this lovely TES resource at the very start of my teaching career.

Last week I found I didn’t really have anything for haben and wasn’t that impressed with my options. I went googling and found some absolutely lovely Mozart songs for both key German verbs that are very catchy, slightly silly, and will be used by me for ages to come.

I even wonder if we can get them into the soundtrack for foreign trips.

(slightly chipmunky, also very reminiscent of Sound of Music – I can imagine curtain-clad pirouetting alpine children singing these)

(This is from the Magic Flute and I’m quite interesting in trying to find sheet music. It’s classic choral harmony and I can’t hear it without trying to busk through all the parts)

This is also a great excuse for singing the Queen of the Night song. Not that I would ever do that in front of a class (ahem!).

Up until now I had been doing both sein and être to the tune of Michael Finnegan. You have to include the English in this to work as well. “Ich bin, I am, du bist you are, er ist he is…” and so on.

Both sein and être also work nicely to the Mission Impossible theme. You can fit versions of the whole verb both to the bass introduction and the treble theme once that kicks in.

There is also this balmy and awesome aller song to complete the trio of vital French irregular verbs.

The images are starting to be dated, and some classes can be obsessed with the visuals whilst not listening to the actual French, but it still plays well with most groups. I generally use it with older classes as we start really working on the near future tense. Using mixed / boy and girl bands to explain ils and elles is inspired and chimes much better with students than “on the day the priest visits the convent, they turn from elles to ils.” (although I still tell that story too)

If you are actually going to sing the songs yourself to your class, you need to practise privately before trying to do it with everyone, so you can be consistent with your underlay (how the words fit the tune.) This is why several bemused colleagues have put their head around my classroom door in the last week to find me singing Pink Panther in a darkened classroom. Even my set of personal pronoun hand gestures isn’t moving enough to turn the occupancy lighting back on.

These wonderful youtube videos mean you can use song to teach verbs even if you are the sort of teacher who does not sing yourself.

Stop press – here’s a version of the Pink Panther powerpoint converted to a youtube video!

My differentiation on this – ALL do the jazz hands on vous allez MOST sing all the words SOME sing in tune.


Apostates for Evensong

Some interesting things have been happening on the Facebook group for fans of Choral Evensong in the last few days.

Firstly, people from some fairly major cathedrals have been highlighting when they have spare days for visiting choirs – and there has even been some suggestion of setting up a Facebook Scratch Choir. Which would be hugely fun, even if only to get some po-faced precentor to thank the Facebook Singers at the end of evensong.

Secondly, there was this rather good article from an Australian atheist called Apostates for Evensong that ticks rather a lot of boxes for things I have been pondering lately.

I’m fairly ambivalent about things Godly these days, but I maintain pretty strong links with the church through bellringing. Somehow I’m more into that than now than I have been for years and even my Sunday morning attendance – for ringing if not for services – is now hugely more than it has been for years.

How do you square a fairly strong agnostic position on the whole God front and still turn up week after week to ring the bells? I think bellringing and choral singing, especially evensong, are huge parts of the English cultural heritage. It may be that the church has the monopoly on all the equipment and costumes, but it’s culturally important that evensong and bellringing continue, whether or not it’s to do it just because it’s beautiful or to the glory of God. If God is there and listening, then it’s an expression of human worship. But there’s a purely humanist dimension as well. Hearing the bells and the choirs as an expression of human skill and talent, with no spiritual dimension, is just as uplifting.

I spend a week every year singing choral evensong with a touring choir, and every year think to myself I should a) sing routinely and not just in August and b) I should make a greater effort to go and hear other choirs singing evensong. Heck, on at least two nights a month I ring for evensong in St Peters but never stay for the service. St Peters and St Marys in Nottingham both have strong choirs and it’s not that far from Southwell Minster, which has a choral foundation. And yet in almost every year since I started singing over the summer, thirteen years this year, I don’t think I’ve been to evensong for the rest of the year more than once or twice. (I do remember one particular year taking P to evensong at St Mary’s, only to get lumbered with a Surprise Eucharist, and overly keen meeters and greeters on the door who wouldn’t let us leave afterwards…)