Music & Speech – Edward Hughes

Notes from the IATEFL PronSIG event, 2013

Ed Hughes is a British composer whose music is published by University of York Music Press and he is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex.

file2821269738390Ed’s talk wasn’t from an EFL perspective, but looked at the relationship between music and speech and the cross-over point between musical ideas and spoken texts.  In truth I felt somewhat out of my depth during Ed’s talk – perhaps because I’m not particularly musical and am unfamiliar with a lot of the terminology, or perhaps because we were nearing the end of a long day.  However, while it might not have been what he intended, what Ed was talking about did lead me to some interesting thoughts relating music to the EFL classroom.

In the past I’ve used music in theatre as part of a development process.  When devising work for the stage I often found it useful to observe the effect of different styles of music on a scene – both physically in terms of the body and rhythmically in terms of speech.

My partner is an actor who writes and develops his own solo shows.  He works closely with a composer who writes an original musical score for the piece he’s working on.  When it comes to the performance, his speech and movement are set to the music, which tells him where he is in the piece at any given moment.

Ed’s seminar got me thinking about this relationship and whether, and how, it can be used in the classroom.  It might be interesting with higher level students doing presentations to experiment with how particular styles of music affect their speaking.  This is something I’ll give some more thought and return to, as at the moment I’m not confident about how well it marries in with actual language teaching.

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