Perhaps this will give somebody else some much needed hope when I say that I’m not a great audio-processor. Neither music nor verbal language skills come easily to me. And yet, here I am, my life hobbies and obsessions revolving around both. Paso a paso, sigo adelante. Aprendo algo nuevo cada día. It’s amusing to me that most of my Spanish contextually revolves around music, which is why when I wrote the above, song lyrics began to play in my head: Cada día más, voy a quererte cada día más, voy a quererte cada día más, mi amor, cada día más….** I haven’t heard that song in a long time, and there it was, waiting in my head.
Ever since I plunged into learning the diatonic accordion, I realized I was going to have to put my Spanish skills to use, as every beginning tutorial and music book I ordered was in Spanish. That has remained the case to this day. Thankfully, as I’ve stated before on this blog, I’m a fluent reader in Spanish. I was forced to learn that skill while having to read full-length novels in university classes. I still remember a 200-level Spanish professor giving us articles to read and telling us we weren’t allowed to stop and translate or look up words. We were reading for fluency rather than complete comprehension. As with one’s native language, most words can be understood contextually, and the ones that are incomprehensible can simply be looked up at a later time. His forcing us to do that early on was immensely valuable later, when I was taking 400/500 level classes. And to be honest, yes, there are always words I can’t contextualize or derivate…a handful. If audio-processing is not one of my skills, having an immense English vocabulary is one of my skills, and I can find the derivatives of most words in Spanish. Multisyllabic, snooty Latin-based words in English are commonplace words in Spanish. People with a poor English vocabulary are going to struggle with Spanish, which is why I despise Duolingo so much (and no, I still haven’t done my review on that app, but suffice to say they only accept very dumbed-down English as translation for the Spanish…why? Why, when English has so much Latin influence? ¡No tiene sentido!).
Lately, however, I’ve been watching video tutorials on the accordion. Unfortunately, as I’ve said, I’m a better reader than I am a listener. But sticking to skills that come naturally to us is a way to stunt our own growth as humans. Why do this? Why intentionally stunt our own growth? Very foolish. Or very boring. As it turns out, listening to Spanish is very much like reading it. If you don’t allow yourself to stop and translate (oh, I know, it’s hard), you can become a fluent listener in the same way you become a fluent reader. Words are understood through context. If you don’t catch every word the speaker is saying, who cares? Do you catch every word a speaker says in English? I don’t because…see above. I’ve found I can understand these tutorials just fine, and some of them are easier to understand than others. I’ll post a link to one of my favorite teachers below, just in case there are any other people out there who are determined to learn the diatonic Mexican style accordion and don’t know where to start.*
There are moments when I want my chosen hobbies to be easier. Why, for example, was I never taught to read music? We had a music class in elementary school, but the basic learning of FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge was never put to use by adapting it to playing an instrument. I suppose that was outside the school’s funding. And, of course, why do I have to struggle through music and Spanish at the same time? The answer to that latter question is obvious: I do it because I want to. I love the accordion and I love Spanish and, thus, I might as well combine the two and learn those skills the school system was ill-equipped to teach — she said through her tears. I’m sorry; I’m being dramatic. I should write a song about it all.
After reading fluently and listening fluently, I suppose the next step is to speak fluently. Growth, right? Cue the need to write another dramatic song.
*Start with this guy called Bigshow. He has hundreds of videos. Here is a link to his YouTube channel: BigShow Acordeón. You can also find him on Facebook.
**I decided to post a video of this song because I realized it has a simple accordion part. I think I could learn it, and maybe you could too if you’re learning the accordion.