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Singing makes you good at languages. So, what else is new?

An academic called Karen M. Ludke is getting media attention this morning for her doctoral thesis at Edinburgh. It shows that people who sing in foreign languages are likely to become fluent in them much faster than those who don’t. Didn’t we know that already?



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  1. Given the Brits are not that high up on the list for speaking foreign languages naturally, I doubt it. What a singer needs is correct pronunciation with no regional accent of any kind, be it a foreign regional accent or a British one, and the ability to portray the poem or opera set, knowing what each word means. Most singers I know aren’t great at speaking languages, but certainly they know how to sing in them.

  2. Thanks. Very interesting. Let me think about this.

  3. PK Miller says:

    Years ago, when I was a budding young singer, I started learning to sing in Italian–vocalizes, the Vaccai method that’s been around since Nero, basic canzone (NOT calzone!), Ariettas etc. My background is very Germanic. German is as much my native tongue as English–if now rather rusty. I began my “show biz career” at age 5 singing Stille Nacht & O Du Froeliche to Santa Claus. My sister has the pictures to prove it if, mercifully, the phonograph record made became unplayable w/in the year! After the first few lessons in Italian singing I declared, “I LOVE singing in Italian!!!” My teachers were all but on the floor as I had resisted so long, so much. I certainly picked up other languages quickly including Russian which, to this day, I find impossible to sing or speak. I understood the sonorities implicitly & sang it well. The irony is I had colleagues who had the same problem with German that come so naturally to me. (If Faust is unsingable in German!) I think it’s the same principle as stutterers not stuttering when they SING!

    My only regret is the schools I attended did not require formal study of Italian. (Almost all do now for singers) I took a 1 semester course in “Italian for Singers” and that was it. My teachers guided me through the pronunciations etc., but no formal study other than this quickly course–a la the “science for music majors” that even then, in that dinosauric era, was a “skate course.” I do p[ick up languages quicker singing them if, to this day, I am grateful that a concert performance of Janacek’s Jenufa was auf Deutsche. There wasn’t time to teach us the Czech, word by word, its sonorities, unique challenges….

  4. Gabor Fuchs says:

    In 1978 while working in International Opera Studio of Zurich Opera House I had to coach Cimarosa s Il marito disperato in German.Accompanying singers 6 hours a day I was able to learn German in about 6 weeks.

  5. Theodore McGuiver says:

    I think Ms Ludke is on to something. I’ve also suspected for a long time that musicians gradually improve the more they practise. May I have my doctorate now, please?

  6. Mary Hitch says:

    My husband was a coach and repetiteur and had never learned Italian, but when I won a Peter Moores Scholarship to study Italian in Florence, he came over and conversed slowly but correctly with my landlady to my great surprise!

  7. Roland Thomas says:

    “Singing makes you good at languages” and practizing music makes easier learning other activities ( mathematiques, physique, technique, artisanat et autres activit├ęs artistiques ). Singing makes easier matching the languages born in theses activities.

  8. thank you Theo Bikel for your debut album.

    And Cynthia Gooding

    And Elektra Records.

    and all the rehearsals of Chorus

  9. Cool article, It was good,show it to everyone.

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