Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning About Holidays through Bilingual Music

After the holidays roll around, I’m usually a bit relieved when they are over. For me, it means the multitude of student winter performances are done, and that we have survived the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So once New Years was over this year, I really felt thankful that the whole season was so special. For some reason, more than other years, the tone of the 2013 holidays was so peaceful, loving, and happy. And I’m so glad it was.

As a children’s musician and teacher, and a parent of bilingual children the holidays become a wonderful time to learn about culture and traditions though music. Learning songs in Spanish in my household, and among my students at a Language Immersion Magnet has proven to be first and foremost the most fulfilling and easiest way to really learn the language. I first began teaching at this Language Magnet five years ago, and to see the growth of each student’s Spanish-speaking abilities has been amazing. There are students in the 3rd grade who have tackled multiple Harry Potter books in Spanish! It just amazes me to see and hear how well children can learn a second language when there is support at home and at school.

But getting back to the music! One way I teach my students about holidays and traditions is through song. With singing, not only do students enjoy the learning more, they are able to bring special meaning to each unique event. The resources for Christmas songs in Spanish are quite overwhelming! There are so many from various countries that I can barely decide each year what to teach. However, when it comes to the smaller holidays it’s not always easy to find the right song for the occasion!

With the help (and a bit of a push) from my friends, Emmanuel and Kristine Munda, we began series of bilingual Holiday songs to help children (and adults) learn vocabulary for that special day, and to have a fun song to really bring the festivities to life! We began our holiday music adventures with our Thanksgiving song in 2011, and since then recorded and made bilingual videos (with paper animation) for a Christmas song called “Rat-a-Plan”, the very popular “Los Monstruos” for Halloween, and even a bilingual Father’s Day song called “Superhero Dad.” But I have to say my favorite bilingual song is the “Valentine’s Day” song for “El día del amor y la amistad.”

Kristine of created the cutest characters that show the fun little activities and traditions we share here in the United States for Valentine’s day, like sharing tiny Valentine cards, candies, and making crafts. This is such a catchy song that all my students have loved to sing it! In fact, I’ll have to upload our choreography that goes with the song one day!

You can check out the video here at Mommy Maestra, and download the song on my Bandcamp page HERE!

The Munda team and I are happy to announce a DVD in the works with our collection of Holiday videos, which will include a bilingual song for Earth Day, a new Mother’s Day song, Día de los niños, and for birthdays! You can stay posted for these new releases on my twitter or facebook and on my website

Have a wonderful día del amor y la amistad and I hope you enjoy the “la la la’s!”


Sara Quintanar is the teacher and mommy of three behind "Music With Sara." When she's not cleaning after her 2 year old, she teaches music in Spanish to hundreds of children in Glendale, California.


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