Fivehundred and third Åsic- The Pianist of Yarmouk

This summer I had to let go of my piano when I moved from a house to an apartment. I tried to find someone who could accept it as a free gift, but in the end we had to leave it on the city dump. I felt sad and nostalgic when thinking of all the moments I’d spent with my instrument, playing or rehearsing for numerous piano lessons in the past.

This morning I was browsing the suggested documentaries on the Swedish Television channel #SVT. One of them caught my attention, first because there was a comment ”only two days left to watch this video” (So hurry up and watch it, all my friends in Sweden!), secondly because the story was about a man who played the piano. The pianist was a Palestinian, who had lived in Yarmouk in Syria and many of my adult students come from Syria. Some of them are Palestinians, too. I thought I needed this story as an example of what living in exile means, but I was also curious about the piano…

Music is a way to make contact. It is also an excellent way to express emotions. It doesn’t matter whether we mean happiness, sadness, anger or frustration. Whatever feeling or emotion we’d like to express, there is music to it! The pianist of Yarmouk found his way to deal with the war, through music. ❤

The documentary on http://www.svtplay.se is called ”Ett piano, en hjälte, ett krig” (= a piano, a hero a war). Ayham Ahmad tells his story and we follow him for a few years from the beginning of the war in Syria. He works together with his father in a wood shop, making music instruments and playing the piano. When the acts of war spreads in Yarmouk, he brings his piano to the street, in order to sing together with children, to help them focus on something positive rather than the ongoing war. Everyone of us with a heart, will be moved by the story. But those of us who has left an instrument behind for some reason, will realize there will always be solutions. By spreading the music from Yarmouk, Ayham Ahmad tells the world about the war in his own way.

The horrors of the war in Syria is a reality for people still there and also for their relatives and friends in exile worldwide. The war must come to an end! If you live in Sweden, you have access to svt.play and two more days to learn more about Ayham Ahmad and his piano:

Ett piano, en hjälte, ett krig

Annonser

Four hundred and thirty-fourth åsic- When music serves as a tool for learning languages #Londonfrossa

musikaliska-noter-vag-i-snygg-vektor-elemwnts_753461.jpg (626×396)

When I was a child, I spent very much time with a family across the street. The two girls in that family were my best friends and we had great fun doing a lot of different things. We had a theater group and our family and friends every now and then were more or less forced to go to our shows. One of the girls was playing the piano and so was I. Sometimes we spent time learning how to play four hands, but we also sang. For Christmas we either went Carolling in the houses close to theirs, OR we went to a local church in my area and sang there. I remember one morning in their house when I suddenly realized from whom the sisters had got their skills in music and also their feeling for singing and playing instruments… From the bathroom I heard a beautiful opera aria! The father was singing in the shower. In my home my father played the violin and my grandpa played the accordion.

bad+9+26jan+2010.jpg (400×300)

I have always loved singing! As a child I WAS one of the members of ABBA… Three other kids and I, two boys and a girl, in fact spent EVERY single afternoon being soap opera actors, always ABBA, never ”the real” kids… We even painted clothes we had sown, so that they looked similar to ABBA:s stage costumes. When I drive my car alone, I sing along. An amusing detail with our very old car, is that we still have just an old cassette player… Guess what??? My collection of home-recorded cassettes is still in the attic… SO whenever I feel bored by the current music in the car radio, I indulge myself with the oldies from the seventies or eighties…

 sjunga_i_bilbildekalet-re7d354ee9b5f427aaed85af7180ebae7_v9wht_8byvr_512.jpg (512×512)Apart from just being FUN, I know that learning languages comes easier when you sing along! When you sing a song repeatedly over and over again, you may be doing so because you really love that particular song. But at the same time as you enjoy the music, you also learn the lyrics by heart and you get a feeling for words and phrases, sounds and melody in language. Intonation and stress also comes easier with the help of music. So, next time you sing in the shower or in the car, challenge yourself with a new song, maybe in a language you are not yet familiar with! What if you turn out to be a speaker of a foreign language and your pronunciation is really good, because you applied your singing skills into language learning??? When words are not enough, music may be the bridge…

I remember once when I was in Italy and two choirs were having dinner.  After dinner, when both choirs sang with and to each other, we didn’t know each other’s languages, but we did singalong in the melodies, since we were familiar with the music of Guiseppe Verdi. Listen to the link below. I am pretty sure that you would be able to sing along, too, wouldn’t you?

London Philharmonic Orchestra – Nabucco: Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves (Va’, Pensiero, Sull’ali Dorate)

körsång(1).png (146×169)

Four hundred and seventh åsic- Saint Lucia brings the Light in the Dark!

Lucia-13.12.06.jpg (874×691)

Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy of Syracuse, from round 300 AC, is today’s protagonist in many different settings… The legend says that Saint Lucia was born in Italy in Syracuse. She was of noble family, but since her father had died Saint Lucia and her mother didn’t have any other solution to support themselves but for the young Lucia to marry a rich man. Lucia, however, had already dedicated her heart to God and did everything in her power to prevent a marriage. According to the legend, Lucia’s eyes were very beautiful. She even tore her eyes out and gave them to one of the men who came to propose, because she wanted to discourage the man. When Lucia was buried her eyes had been restored through miracle and that was also why she was honored as a Saint during the Middle Ages (1).

Why would a country like Sweden celebrate a saint from Italy, you may think? In the winter Sweden and the other Nordic countries long for the summer not only because of the cold and snowy winter, but also because of the darkness. Saint Lucia is celebrated every year the 13th of December and in Sweden the tradition is still very important for Christmas celebration. Many of the traditional songs are sung not only the 13th, but also during Christmas.

Lucia processions are organized all over Sweden and throughout all different sectors in the society. Kids celebrate in pre-schools or schools and adults celebrate if they are choir members for instance. Many towns or cities i Sweden have their own Lucia processions and on TV they show the official Lucia show of the year.

As a young girl I was in my first Lucia procession when I was a few years old. As a teenager I started to sing in a girls choir called Bjursåsflickorna. We gave many Lucia concerts every year. One of the years we were asked to perform at a dinner in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. It was very exciting and a memorable moment. Princess Madeleine who is now a Mom herself, was climbing on the chairs and crawling under the table and was quite an active little girl at the time. The very same choir also performed a traditional Lucia concert at Lugnet’s sports stadium in April… We were pretending it was winter, because of some honorable guests from the International Olympic Comittée. One of them was the chairman at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The idea was for us to sing to bring the Olympic Winter Games to Falun… Obviously that was a  mission impossible. Falun lost.

Singing for Lucia in strange places seemed to be one of the habits of this choir. I remember we even sang in the Falu Copper Mine, in almost complete darkness and with the damp vitriolic scent in our noses, helmets on our heads and just a candle to light our way down there. Very exciting and completely unique at that time. I know that later on, many other choirs have sung in the copper mine, too. Nowadays I come across Lucia processions ”by accident”, like for instance today when I visited the shopping mall Kupolen in Borlänge, or when students at school perform. I have also accompanied my own children on different occasions, but for myself, I would say my celebration of the Saint Lucia is found in memory lane…

Before I let you go, let’s just glance at a picture of a typical saffron bun, called ”lussekatt” in Swedish.#lussekatter, #asaole

But hey… Why invent the wheel??? Please check this link from youtube in order to finally understand this topic!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

One hundred and third åsic- When music serves as a tool for learning languages

musikaliska-noter-vag-i-snygg-vektor-elemwnts_753461.jpg (626×396)

When I was a child, I spent very much time with a family across the street. The two girls in that family were my best friends and we had great fun doing a lot of different things. We had a theater group and our family and friends every now and then were more or less forced to go to our shows. One of the girls was playing the piano and so was I. Sometimes we spent time learning how to play four hands, but we also sang. For Christmas we either went Carolling in the houses close to theirs, OR we went to a local church in my area and sang there. I remember one morning in their house when I suddenly realized from whom the sisters had got their skills in music and also their feeling for singing and playing instruments… From the bathroom I heard a beautiful opera aria! The father was singing in the shower. In my home my father played the violin and my grandpa played the accordion.

bad+9+26jan+2010.jpg (400×300)

I have always loved singing! As a child I WAS one of the members of ABBA… Three other kids and I, two boys and a girl, in fact spent EVERY single afternoon being soap opera actors, always ABBA, never ”the real” kids… We even painted clothes we had sown, so that they looked similar to ABBA:s stage costumes.

abba.jpg (630×480)

When I drive my car alone, I sing along. An amusing detail with our very old car, is that we still have just an old cassette player… Guess what??? My collection of home-recorded cassettes is still in the attic… SO whenever I feel bored by the current music in the car radio, I indulge myself with the oldies from the seventies or eighties…

 sjunga_i_bilbildekalet-re7d354ee9b5f427aaed85af7180ebae7_v9wht_8byvr_512.jpg (512×512)

 Apart from just being FUN, I know that learning languages comes easier when you sing along! When you sing a song repeatedly over and over again, you may be doing so because you really love that particular song. But at the same time as you enjoy the music, you also learn the lyrics by heart and you get a feeling for words and phrases, sounds and melody in language. Intonation and stress also comes easier with the help of music. So, next time you sing in the shower or in the car, challenge yourself with a new song, maybe in a language you are not yet familiar with! What if you turn out to be a speaker of a foreign language and your pronunciation is really good, because you applied your singing skills into language learning??? When words are not enough, music may be the bridge… I remember once when I was in Italy and two choirs were having dinner.  After dinner, when we both sang with and to each other, we didn’t know each other’s languages, but we did singalong in the melodies, since we were familiar with the music of Guiseppe Verdi. Listen to the link below. I am pretty sure that you would be able to sing along, too, wouldn’t you?

London Philharmonic Orchestra – Nabucco: Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves (Va’, Pensiero, Sull’ali Dorate)

körsång(1).png (146×169)