Italian is one of the world’s most musical languages, so what better way to sing its praises than by joining a choir?
Griffith University language students are taking just such a choral approach to their learning, thanks to a program devised by the Italian Studies team.
“There is plenty of research showing the benefits of combining music with learning a language,” said Dr Claire Kennedy, a senior lecturer in the School of Languages and Linguistics.
“Music enhances attention to qualities such as intonation, rhythm and pronunciation. And repetition through singing is simply more fun.
“Not only that, participation in the choir alleviates some of the stress of learning, improves the vocabulary and speech fluency, increases self-confidence and motivation and provides insights into Italian history, culture and values.”
While the choir has yet to decide upon an official name, members gather each week at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music at Brisbane’s South Bank.
There they rehearse under the watchful eye, trained ear and waving baton of conductor Ms Rosalia Miglioli who, aside from her experience working with community choirs in Italy, is a sessional lecturer at the School of Languages and Linguistics and the Conservatorium.
Dr Kennedy said that while there were no audition requirements other than a desire to participate and to communicate in Italian, the choir demanded total immersion in the Italian language.
“Rehearsals are conducted entirely in Italian, although we cater for all levels of language proficiency,” she said.
“So far we have about 25 Griffith students in the choir and they sing alongside about the same number of members of the local community. It’s a great way for language students to interact with native speakers, Italophiles and other learners.
“We’re also very fortunate to have several members, including students, who are musicians and can act as accompanists.”
With plans for the choir to perform for Brisbane’s Dante Society later in the year, a Griffith University campus performance is also a possibility.
However, for as much fun as the new choristers are having, Dr Kennedy affirmed there was an important pedagogical element to the choir.
“It’s an opportunity to use Italian for real interaction with Italian speakers and that means developing language proficiency and an understanding of culture. Even the tea breaks are good because people mix and chat in Italian,” she said.
“There is no doubting the benefits of the choir experience. In fact, we believe that one hour at rehearsals is worth many hours of study at home.”