Return to site

Spelling by Song.

By Rosma Buza

We all love music. Our lives are surrounded by it. We cannot have a ceremony without singing, dancing, drumming and of course donning our traditional outfits. It’s here that everyone is free to join the dance and share in the happiness. Come to think about it; this is how we go about life in Africa!

Long before we start going to school, our mothers hum away at us to fall asleep.

We learnt nursery rhymes. We were taught our traditional songs. We were taught the alphabet at home and in nursery schools through song. The pattern continued in primary school with our multiplication tables. Not a single child advanced academically without knowing their multiple tables by heart. We learnt from each other, both in and out of class, in all the games we played.

Music plays to the rhythm of our heartbeat and we react. Either by the click of our fingers, tap of a foot, rock our head, hum to the tune, whatever moves us. Our memories travel to places where that music takes us.

We normally listen to music with the utmost attention and emotionally engage in the process. When our emotions are involved, our memories retain that information permanently so that particular songs remind us of particular events. It never goes away, just like our first years of learning. You never forget the experience.

To a child all things are normal. Nothing is impossible. Their minds wonder with all its doors open, unlike in adults where creativity and innocence are unfortunately shut out. Children remain wide eyed and more like sponges, they are ready to soak up anything.

After watching his son struggle with coursework, George Hammond-Hagan, a music producer, came up with an idea of compiling a song from his son’s syllabus song over a hip-hop track. It worked, his son’s grades improved almost immediately. Happy with the results, Hammond-Hagan went on to build an App, called ‘Studytracks’ that now helps many other students.

For that reason, spelling can never be divorced from singing in order to increase the capacities of learning. We can also employ other forms or methods to engage every child to reach their full potential in learning how to read and write through good spelling.

In addition to this, we can double the fun by applying a reward system which will challenge the children and make them proud of their learning achievements. The monotony of long car journeys and traffic jams can be punctuated by spelling games. Pen and paper should be as important as other pass time toys in the lives of our children. Through healthy competitions, spelling can be promoted. In case you get stuck, here is the good part; ask the children to contribute different ways of how to learn spelling and you will be amazed with what their growing curious minds can produce!

We are also currently trending to the poetic verses of grime and Afro Beats. Our children know the words off by heart. And why not, it’s music. Kit and caboodle.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs which goes like this, ‘ABC as easy as 123 as easy asdo re mi ‘