70. Language and Music (with Francis Duncan)

What are the similarities between learning a language and learning to play a musical instrument? Listen to this episode to find out, while following an authentic conversation between two native speakers of English who are also musicians.

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Learning English and learning music are quite similar actually. In this episode I talk to a great musician and English teacher about how learning English is similar to learning to play music.

Listen carefully to the conversation to get some extended listening practice.
This is a completely natural and authentic conversation between two speakers of British English.
You can sharpen your listening skills, pick up some bits of vocabulary and also just ponder the question of “What are the similarities between learning English and learning music?”
Feel free to send me your comments.

In this episode I talk to Francis, who has been teaching English for nearly 40 years. He is from the UK and he works with me at The London School of English. Francis worked for a while in Colombia where he learned Spanish to a good level. Francis is also an excellent guitarist. He’s been playing guitar for all of his adult life. In fact, we both play in a band together and I can assure you – his playing is great! It is a pleasure for me to be able to interview Francis in this podcast and we all feel lucky to share some of his knowledge and experience.

I recorded the conversation on a Blackberry mobile phone. I apologise for the fairly poor sound quality of the interview. You can imagine you are listening to a telephone conversation, or a conference call over the internet. In fact, listening to this conversation will give you valuable practice in listening to English in realistic conditions – you will often have to communicate with people over the telephone or maybe Skype. This is a good chance for you to practise listening in that situation.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. Below you will find a list of some of the points I make during the conversation.

These are some of the similarities between learning English and learning to play music. Do you agree with me?

Love music / Love English
Live music / Live English
Listen to music a lot / Listen to English a lot
Do it with others
Learn from masters
Melody and rhythm
Copy others
Choose the type u want
Learn to read it
Learn to improvise
Study the history of it
Watch it happen live
Put it on your iPhone
Do it with your body
Use it to communicate
Realise it is special and personal
Keep your instrument clean
Do it every day, until it hurts
Start early and don’t give up
Use it to entertain others
Enjoy the way it sounds
Record yourself and listen to it
Watch other people do it on YouTube
Think about how it changes depending on the situation
Sing it regularly
Keep it in your heart
Enjoy the different types from around the world
Realise that the english do it best!!! Lol

Transcript of Language and Music – This transcript was sent by a listener, but I have not proofread it yet! There are some gaps (____?___). Please feel free to offer corrections. Just add corrections as a comment. This could become like the Luke’s English Podcast wiki or something ;)

You’re listening to Luke’s English Podcast. For more information visit teacherluke.podomatic.com
Hello again Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to another edition of Luke’s English podcast. Thank you very much for those of you who sent me emails,
people who have left me comments on each episode, people who have given me reviews on iTunes, people who have responded to me on Facebook and
have left comments on my Facebook page, people who have tweeted me on Twitter and mentioned me in various other forms. thank you very much for all
of you attention and your supports. It’s much appreciated. Thank you if you’re a listener to this podcast a long term, if you’ve been listening since the very
beginning when I’ve started doing this and of course if you ‘re a new listener then welcome of the world of Luke’s English podcast and if you (___)
subscribed to this then well done. I think you’ve probably made a good choice there and if you listen to every episode, you’ll realize it can help your English
a lot and I do get emails from people regularly saying that after listening to lots of episodes they have noticed an improvement in their English. Often
because it’s helps them with their vocabulary but also just listening to this regularly is a very good way of improving your English. Imagine it being like sort
of having a friend that you can meet every now and then and kind of sit with in a café and the pub and just talk to them or listen to them speaking to you. A
real English friend. Just like being in London. Well you can do that here but it coasts you much less money and time. you can just do it by listening to
Luke’s English podcast. Sure you can’t actually speak in responds, you can’t have a conversation but when you’re, you know, in a country where it’s
difficult to meet foreign people, it’s difficult to meet learners, it’s difficult to meet native speakers of English then this is obviously a very good opportunity,
isn’t it? Thank you also if you’ve sent me some donations. I have had a few donations recently. The (_odd_?_) kind of payment here and I’ve appreciate
very much. Hm, it’s certainly helps me to keep doing these things and pay for things like the website subscription and for other things like my microphone
which I’ve recently purchased. Now, in this episode you’re going to here an interview which I did. A conversation really between me and another English
learning teacher who works with me at my school. Now, let me give you a little bit a back round information to this one. Recently I was just thinking about
language learning, learning English and music and particularly learning music, learning to play an instrument. I was thinking actually in many ways they
are quite similar. They are not too different. Now, I have got a big passion for music. I love to play it, I like playing the drums, the bass guitar. I’m trying to
learn the guitar and I’ve played the piano since I was a child and so I got a big passion for music and I often listen to music on my walk man, my mp3
player. So I always get music in my head and obviously as a professional English language teacher, I’m always thinking about ways in which people learn
English and learn language and how they can become masters of English. So actually, I’ve noticed there are many similarities between the two. So what I
thought I would do is, have a conversation about that subject. About the similarities between learning a language, learning English and learning to play
music. So I thought who better to talk to than my college and friend and fellow musician Francis who I work with at school. Now, Francis has being
teaching English for many years. he started way back in the 1970th. I think he went to Colombia originally in South America and he thought English there.
He started in the mid to early seventies and he has been teaching English ever since. So that’s over thirty-five years of experience of teaching English. It’s
incredible isn’t it? He also has learnt Spanish to a very high level after living in South America for many years. He first started to learn Spanish when he
moved to Colombia back in the 70th and as well as that he’s an excellent guitarist. A very very good guitar player. I fact, I play in a band with Francis and
we perform live music in London and we enjoying playing together very much and I can honestly tell you he’s a great guitarist and I respect the way he
plays music very much. So I thought it would be very interesting to talk to Francis about music, about learning English and about learning language in
general. And so I thought, I’d record the conversation, so I can share it with listeners to my podcast. Now, I thought that would be useful for you because
you can just listen to (___) ,natural, authentic conversation between two native speakers of English talking about a subject which I think you will find
interesting, revealing and informative. So let’s just get straight to it. So you can listen to it. Now, I recently changed my mobile phone. I don’t use an iPhone
anymore, because I couldn’t effort it. it’s too expensive for me to use an iPhone these days. So nowadays I’m using a Blackberry, which is fine. i love it very
much, it’s a great phone but some things are not as good as the iPhone and I actually recorded the conversation with Francis using my Blackberry. Now,
you’ll notice that the recording quality is not as good. In fact the sound quality is rather like listening to someone speaking to you over the telephone. So
you’ll probably notice immediately, oh my God, it doesn’t sound perfect! It doesn’t sound perfect. I can’t understand every single word because it is not
perfect. Well, what I would say to you is; I think it’s still a very good exercise for you to listen to this because think about it,.. In real life you’re probably
going to use English over the telephone. Aren’t you? It’s very common for you, you know, if you gonna using English at work, you gonna to listen to
people speaking to you over the telephone, you might be doing conference calls, it could be through Skype and in those situations the sound quality is not
perfect So I think, actually it’s very good practice to you to listen to English when the sound quality is not perfect. So you should listen to the whole
conversation even if you can’t understand everything. It’s very good practice, it helps your ears to get used to hearing English when it’s spoken to you over
the telephone and when you’re using a conference call or Skype or something It’s very good practice for you. Okay? So, stick with it, keep going, don’t give
up even if the sound quality isn’t perfect, okay? there will be more podcasts in the future where the sound quality is excellent. I realized, I’ve recently
bought a microphone in order to improve the sound quality. I hope The sound quality is better. Who knows, maybe it’s exactly the same. I don’t know. You
know, I hope that the sound quality is better. I’ve got a really good microphone which allows me to record in various ways. This one I’m using on the stereo
function. So should get a kind of stereo effect if you’re listening to this on your headphones you might get a kind of stereo effect as I move my head around
the microphone like this and I don’t know if you can hear that if you’re listening to it on headphones you should hear me going from one ear to the next ear
like that. That’s pretty cool. Isn’t it? It’s always like a special effect almost. it’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Well, I realized, Id just bought this microphone into
improve the sound quality, now I gonna play you a recording which is got pretty low sound quality. But anyway enough nonsense, I’m gonna stop speaking
nonsense because I do this too much. I gonna play the conversation now. Listen carefully to it, try in understand it. If you feel generous enough you could
even try and make a transcript and send it to me, so that other listeners can read it, while they listen and understand it Also if you’re feeling generous, send
me a donation via PayPal. You should find a button on the website. You just click on that and send me a little bit of money, so that I can keep doing this.
That’s it. Now you can listen to the conversation between me and my college and friend and fellow musician Francis. Here it is Ladies and Gentlemen, by
the way I will include some consent from the conversation on the webpage. You’ll see the list of points that I make during the conversation. That’s it for
now. Enjoy the conversation Ladies and Gentlemen. Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye ……
LUKE: So , I’m here with Francis and so we’re just sitting here at work and I’m recording this on my phone. I have never tried to record anything on
this phone before so if it’s sounds rubbish then don’t blame me, blame Blackberry because they aren’t obviously as good as iPhones. So, I’m here at
work with Francis and I’ decided to speak to Francis because I know that you, you play music and also speak Deutsch.
FRANCIS: Spanish, Spanish yah.
LUKE: Yeah okay. So, though I was just thinking about this idea of the similarities between learning a language, about learning English and learning to
play music.
LUKE: So first of all, I just wanna ask you, well,I mean how long have you been teaching in English now?
FRANCIS: Well about… since 1973
LUKE: Wow!
FRANCIS: As long as I’ve been born. Hahaha… (___) let’s say, ‘ll go 43 years experience or something but now, if you do the same thing every year it’s
just one year experience.
LUKE: Right. So in fact (___), I agree with that.Is that 48 years of experience?
FRANCIS: Yeah something like that.
LUKE: Yeah, it’s very good and okay so you play music, right? What kind of music do you play? What instrument do you play?
FRANCIS: Well, (___)
LUKE: Yeah I know the answer already. Yeah what kind of guitar it is? I mean, what sort of guitar playing do you do?
Well, actually when I started at school, I did every day, an hour a day and then on holidays two hours every day over two years.
LUKE: Right
FRANCIS: And it really was, you know when it’s a sunny day, it was really hard when I just made myself (good or work?) and I might, you get you
know,get random so really to focusing on the movement and the pain of it and it just was difficult. getting it wrong endlessly and just getting back to get lots
and lots and lots of practice and…
LUKE: Frustration and pain and stuff.
FRANCIS:Yah but also concentration but it’s like sort of just like learning Grammar or something. Really thinking because you got a (___) notes and know
which notes it is what it is thinking all the time, where do I got my finger and (hold it ?)something.
LUKE: Hm, well so…
FRANCIS: But so, yeah, so was was one, but at the same times this is good. I played in a band and that was just getting together all these guy who
couldn’t play. Just learning and so it was much less concentrating in a sense because we just had just kind of having fun and it was just, you know…
LUKE: So what (___) you kind of studying but quite hard the art to play a guitar and (___) of British band, you just sort of messing around with the music
as well. It’s quite interesting.
FRANCIS: Yeah, because you learn in a different way with a band, because it is really hard and as you know, you play the guitar, too. When you’re
learning it’s really hard to change from one cord to another, and
LUKE: Yeah at the right time.
FRANCIS: and(___) because (___) you’re playing without the people. You got it, so just you do it.(___) you do it wrong but you do it.
LUKE: A bit like, in a way it’s one of the best ways to learn a language apparently . It’s just you put into a situation where you have to survive.
FRANCIS: You can’t run away.
LUKE: Yeah, like if you have to work in English or something and this is one of the best ways because you’re forced to improve just by survival.
FRANCIS: Yah, that’s right.
LUKE: So just going back to music. What may you want to play because obviously You need to keep all these difficult exercise with your fingers and
everything. You must have had to want to improve. So what was it that made you want to keep playing?
FRANCIS: Well, I think I want,to start there’s not a reason you know,I have had to use a few a cheap guitar before I could play
LUKE: You’ve had a hero?
FRANCIS: Hank Marvin.
LUKE: Hank Marvin from the shadows.
FRANCIS::(_And the Captain and Jeff Beck and…__)
LUKE: Hendrix?
FRANCIS: Yeah, but not, I mean like I could, I never. You know it was no quite so much. I mean I really liked it but It was just on another structure (___)
LUKE: You have these heros where you look up to. So you wanted to be like and that’s what maybe pushed through over the pain on your fingers.
FRANCIS: But I think it was just being a bit obsessive as (___)
LUKE: Right.
FRANCIS: That was complicated.
LUKE: Hm so, okay what about language then? You speak Spanish?
LUKE: How long have you been speaking Spanish?
FRANCIS: (Whatever?) , probably since 1973.
LUKE: LUKE: Everything started in 1973?
LUKE: You didn’t stop playing guitar in 1973?
LUKE: Okay, so you’ve been speaking Spanish for long time? So how did you end up learning Spanish? Why did you choose to learn Spanish?
FRANCIS: Yeah, well it was amazing but it was(___________) Why? Just because I wanted to go to South America for , just because, just because. Just
because I had met a few people been and I heart some music from there. I just wanted to go to (___) you know. (___) and so it just happened. It wasn’t,
you know, I didn’t want to. It’s just because I went there so I had to learn it.
LUKE: Right, I see. It’s more about because you chose to go to South America then you chose to learn it.
FRANCIS: Yeah, absolutely.
LUKE: What was it like in South America in 1973?
FRANCIS: Yeah it’s great. I mean I’m pretty always good to go, when you’re young and there’s another place it’s just amazing. So it is, it is, yeah, it’s
brilliant. (________) because I remember, because I did French
LUKE: Yeah, I did French at school.
FRANCIS: And I remember for years you don’t (___) and people just (__________) and it was like a horrible torture (___) And everybody hate to do it
because learning the French subjunctive in books. It was just like the hardest thing ever. (_____) and it took two years before (___) to do the subjunctive
and when I finally got to do it , it was just as horrible as (___) It was really hard. Learning Spanish, what happened was, it was just a classic thing. I just ,
somebody point it out to me that what I just said was subjunctive. So I just picked it up just like a parrot. Lots people would say (___) but the way they say
(___) including the subjunctives. So it is (___)
LUKE: So you just picked it up without having to…
FRANCIS: And it was so easy because I picked it , you know. Except of the bits. If one bit of subjunctive which I didn’t pick up and I still can’t did it right.
LUKE: Subjunctive is just a titled verb form isn’t it? This specific kind of verb form that occurs in certain grammatical structures.
LUKE: I mean in English that subjunctive would be like…
FRANCIS: Oh we don’t really have it I think.
LUKE: We got types of it. Haven’t we? Like for example if you say in a second conditional, that is a subjunctive, isn’t it ? Like for example (___)
FRANCIS: Yah but I would say that’s kind of like, that’s like, it’s like the past simple but used in the same way but you know the trouble is that the
subjunctive in Spanish or French, I mean is actually a different form.
LUKE: Okay.
FRANCIS: So you got to learn all these different endings and so as well. At least in English you got he same word.
LUKE: Yeah, in French and English there are like many many different verb forms depending on the subject that you use.So , he, she, it ,they, we, you,
and stuff.
FRANCIS: Yah and there are all these different endings, what would you call that?
LUKE: Conjugations. Endings for verbs depending on …
FRANCIS: And so subjunctive, yah, because you got the present and then you got, you know, all different (___) . There are all the different tenses, there
are all these subjunctive forms and so.
LUKE: Yah, right. Yah, it’s complicated isn’t it?
LUKE: Hum, okay, so then, right , establishing you’re playing music and you’ve learnt a second language. The next question then is really, how can you
become great at music or how can you become great at English. So I’m trying to find some kind of comparison between Learning English ( MUSIC) and
learning a language and what I did, that I was thinking about this the other day and I have just written down a list of things that I think is similar between
learning music and learning language. So, but the first thing I’ve got here on top of the list is to love, you have to love music.If you’re willing to learn how to
play guitar or another instrument very well, you have to have a love of music.