Music is a powerful tool to help children and adults learn languages
Writing songs for linguistic educational purposes is a specific art. As well as the obvious, you need to have catchy tunes with arrangements that avoid distracting the ear from the words. The lyrics are necessarily focused on target vocabulary, and the sentence structures develop in complexity through progressive course levels.
In general, the melody should follow speech patterns, which is not as easy as it sounds. Nothing should be rushed or indistinct. Every syllable and consonant needs to sound clear in vocal performances.
If the product is aimed at children, then the pitch range has to be narrower than that which would be expected for an adult singer. A balance has to be struck between creating a breezy modern pop feel and the strictures anticipated of the task.
Songs can vary in style from guitar pop to musical theatre, from country to rap and synthetic pop to disco – any style that suits the theme of the song or the editor’s request.
I have nearly 20 years of experience as a freelance Music Composer writing ELT songs for Oxford University Press
Commissioned by the most prominent educational publisher in the world, since 2002, I have composed and recorded hundreds of classroom educational songs to order for many OUP English courses for the foreign schools market.
I work from a script to provide a vocal demo of the tracks, which, when approved, I dub with professional adult and child singers at a larger facility. The courses are then published in several countries, such as Turkey, Spain, Egypt, the US, Poland and China etc., where they usually become part of the national school curriculums.
I supplied music for one project, the ‘Three in a Tree’ book and multi-media package, that won a British Council ELTON award in 2005.
All ELT Sample Songs Copyright © Oxford University Press
I also wrote the music for an animated CD-Rom phonics course scripted by successful children’s author Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom), ‘Oxford Reading Tree eSong Birds’.
I am one of only a handful of specialists in this field in the UK.
I usually have more than one project on the go at any time. I can modestly claim expertise in this narrow field.