I recently started using songs in class – last year it was just a few, but this year I’ve been using songs in class since the first few weeks. I love them! The students – whether they admit it or not – love them! Within the first two days of teaching our first song, the students’ pronunciation in Latin improved and their confidence to speak aloud grew. Students were also more invested in class, motivated during class, and, just the act of singing… some suffering, built community quickly.
What follows below are my song resources, collected, and organized. As much as possible, I have given credit where credit is due.
For help in teaching songs in class, here is the basic outline of what I do:
- I hand out or present on the board, the lyrics. If it is an well-known children’s song, I don’t always give the the English translation. With most songs, though, I provide the English lyrics as a comparison.
- We then talk about the lyrics and how the Latin means the English. Depending on the song, why I’ve chosen it, and how complicated it is – I might talk about the whole song as once or a few lines at a time.
- I introduce the song by playing the tune, either in English or Latin, depending on what is available. I usually play it twice – once for students to jam to, once for students to try and read the Latin lyrics along to the tune quietly or in their head.
- We then practice saying the lyrics without the tune, to get comfortable with the words and pronunciation. I do a lot of “Repete/Redite me” and make the students keep saying it until everyone is participating. They learn quickly how to make the torture stop. We recycle next lines with previous lines, words with phrases, etc.
- Next, we “sing” a stanza at a time without the music, while mimicking me. Slowly.
- Then, we add in the music. If I only have an English version of the song with music, I keep the volume low and we sing the Latin over it. If I have a Latin version, we sing along with it. Sometimes, if the song is super simple, we always sing without music.
- Oh, and if there are gestures… always do them! It adds an element of silliness to whole activity!
Nota Bene: I am a horrible singer. I have no rhythm, can’t carry a tune, and don’t remotely hit the correct pitch. It doesn’t matter. The students love that I keep trying even if I can’t. It gives them courage. If we all are horrible, then no one can laugh. Sometimes, even my good singers purposefully sing poorly to make us all a community of off-key musical artists.
Others’ Resources / Websites
- In Medias Res’ collection: https://medium.com/in-medias-res/tagged/carmina-convivalia
- John Piazza’s collection (with an overview of how he uses songs): http://johnpiazza.net/using-latin-songs/
- My YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLO9WbPZPc8mcHxUccju0cbL2zFDjZJxyc
- Alexander Veronensis’ collection: http://www.alexanderveronensis.com/p/carmina.html
- Miriam Patrick’s collection: https://www.matermonstrorum.com/original-songs
My Collection / Transliterations
- What Does the Fox Say?
- Feliz Navidad (aka Saturnalia)
- Milites (which I use alongside Lance Piantaggini’s novella Tiberius et Gallisena ultima)
- If You’re Happy and You Know It (lyrics by Andrew Stephen Olimpi)
- Old MacDonald Had a Farm (lyrics by the Latinum Institute)
- Baby Shark (lyrics by Sarah Scullin)
- Hello, Goodbye