Italian Through Music: A Pedagogical Seminar

Do you teach Italian? Do you love music? Join us Friday February 27, 12-4pm, to discover how you can use music in your Italian classroom.

This seminar is offered to K-12 teachers in existing Italian programs as well as to individuals and schools that may be interested in establishing a new Italian program. It will lead K-12 teachers of Italian on an exploration of the use of music a) to introduce students to the study of the Italian language and culture; b) to introduce or reinforce specific grammar structures, communicative situations, and cultural themes, with work aimed at developing all four language skills – listening, speaking, reading, writing - at different levels. The seminar provides Act 48 credits in Pennsylvania.

The seminar is structured in a series of presentation by experienced University of Pennsylvania faculty and invited speakers, followed by a workshop that will offer the opportunity for small group brainstorming and to create activities at different grade levels. A light lunch will be served during the presentations.

NEW! It is now possible to connect to the seminar remotely through BlueJeans. Space is limited please register as soon as possible.

Read on for a detailed program and the registration forms.


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Italian Through Music: A Pedagogical Seminar

27 February 2015, 12-4pm

Cherpack Seminar Room - 543 Williams Hall

255 S. 36th Street

Philadelphia 19104



12:00 General introductions and light lunch

12:15 Learning to sing in Italian/ Singing to learn Italian - Karen Lauria Saillant

In the past 11 years, Karen Lauria Saillant's International Opera Theater has created 11 world premiere Italian operas at the Teatro degli Avvaloranti, Citta' della Pieve, Italy. The annual project has become a living laboratory with the majority of singers, actors, instrumentalists, fine artists, interns & composers, including a few dozen children, going to Italy from different countries and learning to become more comfortable speaking and singing in front of native Italian audiences. In tandem with the exploration of the body as an expressive vehicle, a system for teaching Italian, as well as coordinated singing, “La Voce Luminosa” has evolved.

2014, being the 450th birthday of Shakespeare, called for a special production, and Karen Lauria Saillant has written an original fantasy tale for fifteen children (ages 7-17) who portray young characters inspired by Shakespearian plays. She is currently working on the staging of her new opera in Città della Pieve with a group of children who had no prior knowledge of Italian.

Through video, images, and live exercises with a device developed to facilitate coordinated breath, Saillant will elaborate on a 3 point process through which children can easily and enjoyably be introduced to the Italian language and arrive at more accurate Italian comprehension, inflection & pronunciation.


12:45 Le Passioni dell’Aria: Italian Sounds for a Children’s Choir - Federica Anichini and Roberto Scarcella Perino

Singing is a superb tool for learning a foreign language, and especially for learning Italian, an inherently musical language. Roberto Scarcella Perino, composer, and Federica Anichini, medievalist and Latin teacher, grounded their work in this fact. Le Passioni dell’Aria is a set of seven short musical pieces inspired by atmospheric conditions. Scarcella Perino’s original music is combined with Anichini’s texts, loosely based on Aristotle’s Meteorology. These pieces have been expressly created for a children’s choir since the authors felt that children’s choirs don't have an adequate repertoire from which to select their programs. The project also aimed at offering young kids valuable encounters with the Italian language. The kids of the New York City Children’s Choir who premiered it in New York City on May 15th, 2014, did not speak Italian, and most of them had not had prior exposure to the Italian language. As two of them conclude in the short video that will be included in the presentation, the chance to sing in Italian made their experience unique. Singing Le Passioni in a new language fostered their imagination and made them feel the thrill of combining sounds and meanings in a creative, engaging way.


1:15 From Children's Songs to the History of Music - Jamuna Samuel

For grades k-6: We will draw from the long tradition of the Bologna-based Piccolo coro dell'Antoniano children's choir, and the related song festival Lo Zecchino d'oro. We will focus on songs about Leonardo da Vinci (“Quel secchione di Leonardo”) and Galileo Galilei (“Messer Galileo”), also as a way to introduce the Italian Renaissance at the elementary level. In groupwork we will enliven the repertoire through the use of Gallucci editore’s book series illustrating other individual songs and related youtube video. Finally, we will explore possibilities to acquire and reinforce language through physical movements for selected songs. 

For grades 9-12: How does a composer interpret a poetic text in music? Claudio Monteverdi (Cremona 1567 - Venice 1643) was a master of the Renaissance musical genre called madrigale, a short polyphonic piece setting Italian poetry (by Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, among others). Taking one of his most famous and dramatic madrigals, the Lamento della ninfa (publ. 1639), this session will explore how a simple poem in Italian, expressing the sorrows of a woman abandoned by her lover, is artfully transformed into something else thanks to powerful music. Students can experience the basic form and content of Italian poetry and can exercise their listening and comprehension skills by paying careful attention to the words of the poem, hearing them diffracted by music, like light through a prism. Groupwork will consist of preparing lessons around other, similar poems and their madrigal settings.


1:45 Connecting Culture over the Centuries: Rapping  in Italian Class with 13th Century poet Cecco Angiolieri - Helen McFie-Simone

This presentation will show how culture comes alive in the foreign language classroom with the interaction of the printed word with musical videos on You tube and students working with the new platform Canvas.

Students of second-semester Italian at the University of Pennsylvania, when learning the conditional tense, are introduced to a 13th century sample of “poesia giocosa”,  Cecco Angiolieri’s “s’i’ fosse foco”, which they read both in the original and in a contemporary Italian translation.   This poem introduces students to the conditional tense but also presents them with the opportunity to analyze its content and its reflection on the times of its author, its rhythm and its rhymes. 

Considered an important early work in the Italian vernacular, the poem has lived on in contemporary music. Students study how the famous sonnet was sung by Fabrizio de André in a style that could be considered “folk” music and then how the same sonnet has been transformed and elaborated in the 2007 rap video by Amotivo.   Both versions are readily available on You tube.  After studying the text and the two musical versions of the poem, students then work in pairs or small groups to create their own version of it in a rap video in Italian.


2:15 Italia 1988-2012: Hitting the 5 Cs with Jovanotti - Lillyrose Veneziano-Broccia

This presentation demonstrates how to use the 2014 EF Music Study Program, Jovanotti’s Italia 1988-2012, in the Italian language and culture classroom.  Through this text, music becomes a valuable communicative and cultural tool.  Jovanotti’s Italia 1988-2012 accompanies students of Italian as they listen to the CD to reinforce their knowledge of grammar while expanding their understanding of vocabulary and of Italian culture. Used appropriately, this text helps students meaningfully and enjoyably expand upon listening and reading comprehension, speaking precision, confidence, and thinking creatively and independently.

Jovanotti’s Italia 1988-2012 corresponds to eleven of the thirteen tracks included in the artist’s CD of the same name.  Each unit includes four sections: Ascoltiamo; Leggiamo; Analizziamo un grafico; Per approfondire.  Each section contains lexical, grammatical, reading, listening, writing, and contextualized discussion-based activities for students to complete in pairs, in groups, at home, or online.  Each chapter also offers students the opportunity to do research and to create original work outside the classroom.  These activities foster the students’ feeling of independence while creating a community of learners that continue their meaningful interaction outside the classroom.


2:45 Coffee break


3:00 Workshop


Jean Farinelli, Edizioni Farinelli (, will be available for the duration of the seminar with a showcase of Italian Books. 


Click here for the REGISTRATION FORM - please print and return it with your $50 participation fee no later than February 17.

NEW! It is now possible to connect to the seminar remotely through BlueJeans. Space is limited please register as soon as possible with the form for download here. The remote registration fee is $25.

For directions and parking information follow this link, FIND YOUR WAY

27 February 2015
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cherpack Seminar Room, 543 Williams Hall - 255 S. 36th St. Philadelphia
Music Seminar Registration3.pdf223.32 KB
Music Seminar Registration-Online.pdf223.76 KB