Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Crescendo of teaching: French singer uses music to teach concepts

Published:Sunday | December 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
French singer, songwriter David Cairol in a discussion with students of St George's College, during a working conducted him recently.
French singer, songwriter David Cairol in a discussion with students of St George's College, during a working conducted him recently.
French singer, songwriter David Cairol conducts a workshop at Shortwood Teachers' College.

"Bob Marley taught me English," said David Cairol, French songwriter and musician. "Now I am teaching French through my music."

Cairol's love affair of Bob Marley music, Reggae and his education to English language was a result of a mix up his friend had to give him a CD of Lenny Kravitz, but he got a CD of Bob Marley instead ... magic evolved.

"The first time I listened to his (Bob Marley) songs, I got goose bumps," Cairol said, he still does, by the mere mention of that moment.

Cairol was 14 then, belting songs, wanting to do something different, he said, and to bring about social change, like his inspiration Bob Marley, and as he puts it 'Spiritual Father'.

Two and half decades later, this teenager from Anglet, in south-west France, finally journeyed to Jamaica and the core focus of his visit is to use music to teach concepts.

His first composition Initiales, (initials) released in 2013, was integrated in the French language teaching program set up by TV5 Monde in French, and the Alliance Francaises and language institutes. In April 2017, TV5 Monde didacticalised and integrated Cairol's song Numero (number) into their French language learning program (FLE) in Alliances, French institutes and other organisations or institutions.

"Every word of the song (Initiales) begins with an initial, which makes it easier to learn the concepts of letters," Cairol said.

Cairol leads school projects at Atabal Biarritz in France. In Jamaica, he conducted two workshops at St George's College and the other Shortwood Teachers' College. The audience was across the spectrum and according to him, the outcomes have been encouraging.

"Every problem has a solution," he said. "Through music we have the ability to bring people with conflicting views together and make them work democratically."




He believes that music has the power to change the world, and is a formidable force help in resolving conflicts. The idea is to bring collaborations in the age of competition.

In the three hours, Cairol said, the students get an opportunity to work as a team, come together with their ideas, write a song, drum the up lyrics, and singalong at the end.

"It is amazing," he said, "what can be done in the space of three hours, for something that might take days, weeks or even months to make."

Cairol, in his compositions offers a clever mix of genres that he appropriates and redefines through his melodies and texts.

Cairol is encouraging the use of music and the arts as a part of teaching methodologies according to him they help in better understanding, not only of the concepts, but that of coexistence, harness creativity and also help in working seamlessly as a team.

"You cannot put everything on paper, there are some expressions that come easily verbally," he said.

More and more French schools, he said, are using arts and music to teach. Use of creative methodologies have been affirmed and ratified by UNESCO.

According to the Road Map for Arts Education document from The World Conference on Arts Education:

Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century, in Lisbon in 2006, "The arts provide an environment and practise where the learner is actively engaged in creative experiences, processes, and development.

"Research indicates that introducing learners to artistic processes, while incorporating elements of their own culture into education, cultivates in each individual a sense of creativity and initiative, a fertile imagination, emotional intelligence and a moral "compass", a capacity for critical reflection, a sense of autonomy, and freedom of thought and action," the document continues.

Cairol said that it is imperative, given the world today, its complexities and conflicts, to infuse non-traditional methodologies in the classrooms in essence to encourage and inculcate the 'how' in their thinking processes than the 'what'.

The UNESCO document further says that "Education in and through the arts also stimulates cognitive development and can make how and what learners learn more relevant to the needs of the modern societies in which they live."

He said that during the workshops at the two institutions in Jamaica, he was able to bring coherence in the classroom, adding that the students were able to grasp the thought processes faster with music being the common thread.

Stringing a guitar and belting out tunes might not be an everyday occurrence in the classrooms, but it is a welcome change for many, to go beyond the realms of brick and mortar and transport their thought processes to think 'outside of the box'.

These approach, as research suggests, enables the development of unique perspectives on a wide range of subject areas; perspectives which cannot be discovered through other educational means.

Cairol says he will continue his quest, as he builds his musical repertoire, and encourage more schools to use music and the arts in their course delivery.

Through his musical and educational journey, Cairol is hopeful of spreading the message of goodwill, coexistence and coherence, one classroom at a time.

... and it all began with a misplaced CD.