Immerse yourself in what you’re learning..

… you might just be surprised by what you discover …

I often tell my students that the best way to learn a musical instrument (or anything else, for that matter) is to make it part of your everyday life. I try to live by this principle myself in my own learning; my close friends, family and students will know that I am on a constant quest to learn to read, write and speak French.

I hear myself saying to my piano and guitar students all the time that they should try not to worry too much about how much time they spend practising each week, but instead focus on what they want to get out of any given practise session. Then, not to let too much time pass before the next practise – preferably, get to your instrument at least once a day.

In the same way, I try to work on my French on a daily basis, combining a variety of techniques: reading the news in French, listening to French radio, working through exercises in text books or my French language apps, watching TV in French (sometimes quiz shows and sometimes kid’s cartoons), and occasionally trying to memorise lists of verbs and other vocabulary.

And, so it was when I was listening to French radio over breakfast this morning (Cherie Peronne) that I heard a song that immediately struck a chord with my. I didn’t initially understand what the lyrics were about – they came too fast, but I loved the melody and the mood of the piece:

After I’d listened a couple of times, I looked up the lyrics in French then checked my translation on the internet. And, finding out the details the lie inside the song strengthened my connection to it:

Petit Portoricain, bien intégré quasiment New-Yorkais
Dans mon building tout de verre et d’acier
Je prends mon job, un rail de coke, un café.

Petite fille Afghane, de l’autre côté de la terre
Jamais entendu parler de Manhattan
Mon quotidien c’est la misère et la guerre

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

Un 747, s’est explosé dans mes fenêtres
Mon ciel si bleu est devenu orage
Lorsque les bombes ont rasé mon village

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

So long, adieu mon rêve Américain
Moi, plus jamais esclave des chiens
Ils t’imposaient l’Islam des tyrans
Ceux-là n’ont-ils jamais lu le Coran?

Suis redevenu poussière
Je serai pas maître de l’univers
Ce pays que j’aimais tellement serait-il
Finalement colosse aux pieds d’argile?

Les dieux, les religions
Les guerres de civilisation
Les armes, les drapeaux, les patries, les nations
Font toujours de nous de la chair à canon

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

The song tells two parallel stories: one of a Puerto Rican immigrant in New York who is killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and another of a girl in Kabul who is killed by the resulting American invasion. The female vocalist takes on the role of the Afghan person, while the male singer is the person killed in America. For me, there’s one really moving section in the song:

Gods, religions,
Civilization’s wars,
Weapons, flags, homelands, nations..
Always make us into cannon fodder.

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