I've had a log of iconic American music in my head after doing lessons with particular songs with my students, and so I thought I'd share them here so we could all take a stroll down memory lane.
First up is Summer Nights from Grease. My students told me they had to beg their parents to let them see the movie here in Chile when they were teenagers. I remember playing the music for Grease in my high school orchestra.
Then we have Help by The Beatles. The song is universal, and I think everyone can relate to the theme of the song. My students have all had interesting interpretations of the reason for needing help, ranging from being in the hospital to being an unexpected father.
Another song we've done together was the Do Re Mi song from The Sound of Music. The lyrics are very simple and catchy (and very easily get annoying), but it's interesting to see that people here don't understand what they mean. Listen at your own risk.
Another great song is What a Wonderful World by Louie Armstrong. I actually sang this (badly) with my school chorus when I lived in Germany, and I've liked the song ever since then.
Today I listened to The Voice Within by Cristina Aguilera with one of my students. This isn't normally the genre of music I listen to, but the lyrics and music was a part of the textbook, so we did it. It was a really beautiful song, and I'm glad I gave it a try.
Perhaps my favorite is a classic by Bobby McFerrin, Don't Worry, Be Happy. Chileans love the phrase "Don't worry" in English, and if something ever goes wrong or they are unsure of something, I like to tell them in English, "Don't worry, be happy." It almost always gets a smile.
All of these songs have words and messages in them, but there is something deeper to teaching with music. It also shows the target culture (if you are using a video). You can also learn about slang that you wouldn't typically use in a textbook. Perhaps the most important part, in my opinion, is that music is memorable and a personal experience for every person that listens to a song. Not everyone will interpret a song in the same way, and it will not evoke the same emotions or response from the same person. And the indvidual experience is what I love about it.
In other music news, I found out from a fellow Linkin Park fan from the Las Vegas concert in 2008 that Linkin Park announced their US tour dates. They'll be in Philadelphia on January 31st, and coincidentally I'll be back home in Jersey during that same time. I totally want to see them in concert again (I know that I just saw them last month), but the ticket is $80. I'm contemplating saving the money for traveling, but at this point I'm really on the fence.