A Month of Music – How I Learned Songs

Can’t believe its already December. My how time flies by. For those who don’t know, I was doing a little mini project for myself about using music to learn Japanese . While I sucked generally at keeping my progress tracked on the site, I did a lot of work with it through the month. Thanksgiving made things a little rough, but in the same time it helped out, so here I’m going to share what I learned.

Fumbling Beginnings!

In the beginning I did something I think that was beneficial, but not really realistic for long term application and for those who don’t have a lot of investment time. I basically took a song that I liked (Gackt’s Love Letter), that I knew I could sing the range for and looked up the lyrics for it on the goo site. I ended up going to a different site because sometimes Goo doesn’t love me and wouldn’t load up properly. But the new site had a colum for romanji, natural script with kanji, and then a rough translation. To get rid of the nonesene I copied and pasted the real lyrics into my Ooo text file. I also bolded it, if that matters to anyone. So anyhow, now set with the words and the song, I listened first.

I knew a good portion of the kanji from my RTK and then some took me a moment to realize I knew them. After listening a few times to get the sounds for the kanji, I painstakingly (not really, I love writing!) wrote out the first line and put the kana on top. I then wrote out the line again and again, and sung the song as I wrote (no longer doing the furigana past the first line) until I had about 4 or 5 of the 1st line total. Yeah. Time consuming. But I’ll tell you what, its been a whole month since I did that first line like that and I can still read it like no bodies business and write it out easily.

I would then make two cards, one with the lyrics on the front, no furigana, and sing it from memory, then hitting the space bar would show the reading and the clip of audio from the song. (I used audacity to get my audio clips). Then another card would have the audio and I’d have to produce the writing for it, and then hitting the answer button check against the sentence. I put no English on it whatsoever. I did look up the words and stuff in the dictionary to get a better feel, but I’m about total blindness on some things. The less my English can touch my Japanese the better.

I spent a lot of time with the song and half way through it wasn’t fun anymore. On the plus side, I can sing this bad boy almost like Gackt himself. Hey, bring out the カラオケ!But, its not very practical when wanting to learn faster (or with a cute chibi ビビちゃん hanging off your ankles!). After all this I realized I didn’t want to be a mega master of just a few songs, but rather have many songs under my belt, sacrificing the writing aspect to speed things up.

Children’s Songs

You may or may not like children’s songs. They’re easy, often not super meaningful, and sometimes nauseatingly cute and fluffy. If you’re lucky enough to have an audience like I do, them maybe its not so bad though! Plus, you learn countless of songs that a lot of people in Japan know. It covers a variety of simple vocabulary in their natural sentences/phrases. You open up a new can of enjoyment when you get your random 10 year old and 6 year old 2nd cousins to enjoy it and want you to sing it over and over again too! Or have relatives staring at you as your sing them to your kid. 😀

Once I started on this track it was on. Not only because the little wins kept me motivated but because Vivian absolutly loves Japanese children’s songs! I used a lot of material from an awesome Youtuber named Cotohachan. A vast majority of the songs have the kana on the bottom as the song plays. This was actually very nice, being able to focus on the words if you needed, or enjoying the fun video instead while you sang along. Most songs were relatively short and catchy. Sadly though, not really any kanji, but this was still a vast enjoyment over the process I did with the first song.

Really all I did was watch them over and over, sing along with them over and over, then sing them on my own over and over. No writing involved.

I haven’t SRSed any of the children’s songs, and the one reason is I’m doing it naturally. All day long when changing diapers and feeding Vivi I sing to her. She loves this! Man, she sways and waves at me and sometimes even pretends to sing along. In the changing table department its really helped out, she doesn’t fight me nearly as much to get away. Also at night when I’m rocking her some, I sing to her the ones she loves the most. When she gets on her little giraffe horse thing, I sing the one about horses (since really its just a horse that has the coloring of a giraffe lol). When she sees and plays with the cat, I sing the one about the cat. So forth and so on, so really, I’m getting a natural setting of SRS. I’ve sung these songs so much my honey do started to sing along with me and he doesn’t even want to learn Japanese!

Did My Japanese Improve?

Yes and no. haha, sure, I know a lot of words now that I didn’t know, learned how to say them in a fun catchy way, and I remember them easily from the music, however I didn’t really get much reading practice as I had originally hoped for doing this (save for kana). I was really hoping to see and use a lot more kanji (Since I’ve been studying them for almost 2 years now!). This monthly experiment helped me find the next method that I’ve begun to test, but can’t really prove since I just started on it! So hopefully I can combine what I learned with the kid’s songs and what I learned with the writing/singing thing I did at first to create a good method for learning more complex lyrics/songs.


Till next time! じゃまた!



One Response to “A Month of Music – How I Learned Songs”
  1. Lan'dorien says:

    Sounds like you had fun 🙂 I can just picture your relatives’ faces!

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