Wednesday, 7 December 2016


There’s a wonderful quote from the mystical poet, Rumi, who once said:
‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.’
There’s a lot of truth and wisdom in these words, as those of you who have felt this ‘strange pull’, will understand. It is something innate – unable to be resisted – something that one just has to do…
I myself, have experienced that ‘strange pull’ since childhood – the pull of words - playing with them, rhyming them, singing them, writing them, teaching them, ordering them into prose, puns, story chapters…

Our home is testament to this word obsession of mine, groaning as it does, under the weight of box upon box of information-laden paper, waiting to be uploaded onto my computer (scribbled notations, song lyrics, stories, quotes, research articles for the half-finished novel that I mean to complete before I leave this mortal coil)... but I digress!

Looking back, with the benefit of my 20/20 hindsight vision, over a lifetime of experiences (childhood, teaching, parenting, singing, writing, etc.), I now understand that my passion for singing, teaching and writing, is in fact, my heritage.

My childhood home was a ‘singing home’! My Irish parents were always singing - Mum, in choirs, and around the house; my sharp-witted Dad, a high school Head of English, who kept us all entertained with his self-penned songs, accompanied on his trusty (never rusty) old harmonica.

He would sing us, his 5 children, to sleep at night with his original compositions, and Irish ballads and rebel songs, making singing, for us, not only one of the most natural and enjoyable experiences in the world, but also, one of the most effective methods for learning about life, history, and the world.

I remember those songs, to this day, and still tear up whenever I hear ‘Danny Boy’, one of his favourites, which never fails to take me back to those idyllic childhood days.

They say ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, and I come from a long Irish line of singers who love to teach/teachers who love to sing, from great aunties, my father, two sisters and myself, to, more recently, my daughter and three nieces.

This Blog, then, is born of passion, belief, and experience: passion for writing, teaching, singing, and helping children to learn; belief in the power of song to help children learn, and diverse experience accumulated from many years in the field.

Teaching has changed in many ways, and it has taught me many things, but the one thing that remains constant, and really strikes a ‘chord’, is that children still love to sing! They respond to it, it makes them happy, engages them, gives them a sense of belonging, and creates a positive classroom mood for the day.

Image: A Year 2 assembly performance of our environmental rap song, 'Keep It Clean!'

The lightbulb moment, which led me to what I do today, is the firm belief that singing also aids learning – children learn what they sing!

I returned to casual classroom teaching a few years ago, after an extended stint, co-writing and publishing curriculum-aligned song packages for schools, with friend and colleague, Kathryn Radloff. Our company, Keystone Creations ~ Educational Songs, create professionally-produced songs that target learning sequences of curriculum documents, and enhance, support & integrate classroom learning across key subject areas ~ there is literally 'A Lesson In Every Lyric'

We are very excited about our latest series, Curriculum Karaoke! Teachers and students are loving these illustrated, read, sing & learn along MP4 videos that play on your classroom whiteboards!

Image: A sample slide from our curriculum-aligned song about the human body systems, 'Busy Bodies'.

Image: A sample slide from our song about multiculturalism & diversity, 'One World'.

We are absolutely delighted that they have found their perfect niche in ClickView, whose wonderful learning videos are available, internationally, to subscribing schools!
'ClickView curate and produce educational videos to give teachers the best opportunity to create rich learning experiences and drive deeper student understanding. ClickView is the world's leading producer of educational videos, providing curriculum-aligned video content to schools. With our interactive videos, teachers can turn passive viewing into active learning experiences.'

FYI: Our animated Curriculum Karaoke videos are available on ClickView, to subscribing schools.

Stepping into the classroom setting, along with a definite feeling of ‘coming home’, there was a renewed excitement for being back with the children, and for the whole teaching and learning process!

It is a joy to be able to use and share our curriculum-aligned songs where I casual teach, at a really beautiful local school. The students often request their favourites and it enables them to enjoy singing while actually extending literacy and learning curriculum content (win-win)! 

Singing continues to be an integral part of my teaching day - and my life; I am more passionate than ever about helping children to learn through this powerful, enjoyable and highly-effective medium, and look forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, on this journey.

For now, I'll leave you with words from the master, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who once said:
'The best way to learn is through the powerful force of rhythm.'

Yours in singing to learn, ♫

Nuala (ツ)

Nuala O'Hanlon
Teacher; Director,
Keystone Creations ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®
A Review: ‘In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.’ ~ Brendan Hitchens, teacher: Music In Action, A Magazine for Educators
# QUESTION: How do you use songs with the children in your care?

FYI: Our teaching teaching resources are available as:

'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

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