I can write you a story, teach you French, or sing you a song.

Cantare in italiano

After playing the clarinet since fifth grade, I was ready for something new. When my sophomore year of high school rolled around, I decided to join the high school choir instead of continuing with band. My parents didn’t mind what school activity my brother and I did, as long as we did something we liked.

Since our high school chorus was a performance-based class, we students didn’t receive individual attention from the teacher beyond “oh you have a low voice, join the bass section,” or “you have a low voice, go with the altos.” (That was me.) So my mom signed me up for voice lessons.

Every week for two and a half years, I went to Mrs. Baldwin’s home for voice lessons. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did I learned how to breathe properly, how to enunciate, and what my range was, but most of all, I learned how to sing in a foreign language.

My two favorite classes in high school were French and chorus. No surprise there for this proud music and language nerd. So I delighted in singing songs in Italian. Not only is it beautiful, but also Italian is one of the easiest languages to sing in, bar none. Ah eh ee oh oo. That’s it. So much easier than English when it comes to vowels.

Singing Italian art songs and arias as a teenager led me to choosing to take Italian language classes when I entered in college. As a French major, I was required to take another foreign language. Oh no. *sarcasm* Everyone else took Spanish, so I went for Italian to be different. I could’ve really gone for different and chosen Hebrew or Arabic, but I wanted to stick with a Romance language.

I took two years and a half years of Italian and loved it! While the similarities in vocabulary with French helped me with my learning (the verb manger means “to eat.” So does mangiare), I loved the language enough on its own. There is a reason that so many operas are written in that language. It’s musical and sounds gorgeous. The grammar at times was also different enough from French that I felt like I was learning something new, i.e. the placement of direct object pronouns and the more frequent use of present participles. I considered myself not fluent but conversational by the time I finished Italian 301. I got the gist of Italian pop songs and I could read basic Italian.

Then I forgot most of what I learned.

You know what they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. That was my Italian knowledge. I didn’t find a use for what I’d learned. I haven’t been to Italy yet. One day. My French knowledge stayed, of course. After all, I teach it all the time, so it’s kind of hard to forget that!

Then I got an idea a few days ago.

One of my favorite singers, Eliza Rickman, wrote about a challenge given to her from her producer Jason Webley. He challenged her to write a song on an instrument that she had never played before. She came away with not one but two songs that day, written on the ukelele, which she hadn’t picked up before that day.

I thought to myself, That’s a cool idea, writing a song with something you’ve never tried before! Why not try writing a song in a language you’ve never written in before? I had been meaning to keep up with my Italian anyway. And I could still form basic sentences, enough to teach the basics to someone. Why not give it a try?

I am proud to say that today, I wrote my first song in Italian.

What was it like to practice a song in Italian?

Well, it goes without saying again that what a musical language Italian is! And SO easy to rhyme in! Unless it’s a foreign word like il bar, most words in Italian end in either -a, -e, -i, -o, or -u. So creating a rhyme scheme was easy peasy lemon squeezie (or however that last word is spelled!). I wrote a basic draft of some lyrics in a little under an hour, then music was put to it in about forty minutes. Not bad!

And of course, I will be sharing this song later, once I’ve practiced it a few more times! Who knows if it will make my next album. I really enjoyed the process nonetheless! I got to brush up on a language that I don’t speak everyday, and I have a beautiful song to play too!

Who knows? I might end up writing an album’s worth of songs in Italian in the future!


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Speaking of songs and such…. My collection of Italian music isn’t as extensive as my French music collection, but I do have some favorites. When I began learning Italian, I sought out as much (modern) Italian music as I could, like what I did when I learned French. Italian music, however, was not as easy to come by as French music.

Elisa is hands-down my favorite Italian singer, not just because she’s actually one of the few Italian singers to write and sing most of her material in English. She has an amazing voice that can be soft and vulnerable but also powerful and emotional. I also got to meet her a few years ago ( :D :D ) but that’s a story for another time!


Here’s one of my favorite Italian songs of hers, called Luce (Tramonti a nord est) which means Light (Northeastern sunsets):

I also enjoy Laura Pausini, who is more known here in the U.S. for her Spanish albums. She records each of her albums in Spanish as well as in her native Italian. Given the large Hispanic population here in the U.S., her Spanish records are easier to find. I, however, prefer her in Italian. Her music is a bit more adult contemporary than much of what I listen to, but for clear diction and interesting lyrics, I like her music. And she has a killer voice!

This is probably my favorite, called La prospettiva di me or My perspective. I love the lyrics, which talk about getting away from a bad relationship and striking it out on your own, finding your own perspective on things:

And OK, because I couldn’t choose between two songs, here is my second favorite of Laura Pausini’s, a cover of a 70s song called Io canto, which means I sing, and is the title track of the album of the same name. What I like about Io canto the album is that its a covers album full of songs that I don’t already know. So I’m not making constant comparisons between her version and the original. What it has done is expose me to more Italian music! :-)

And now, here’s Io canto.

Another Year Older!

They say that you are only as old as you feel.

Today, I may be another year older, but goodness knows I don’t feel (and look!) like it!

For the record, today I’m turning 30! It’s really hard to believe, to be honest, that I’m turning 30. I know that I feel different. Goodness knows I’m a far happier person than I was the last time I turned an age divisible by 10! I know I am. I can feel it and see it in my face.

But I don’t feel 30!

The only way I feel 30 is that I’m far more comfortable in my skin than I have ever been. I’ve never been happier with myself! I’ve found what makes me happy (speaking French, making music, writing), I no longer cringe when looking in the mirror at myself, I’m a LOT more patient, and most of all, I enjoy the gifts that God has given me, such as my ability to pick up a foreign language without much difficulty, my musical talents, and my writing. Everyone has their own talents and what they are good at. I have found mine and I’m happier than ever with them. They are a part of who I am and I should not hide them from the world.

As for looking 30….. yeah, no I don’t look 30! :P I’ve never looked my age. When I was a teenager, I always looked younger. I hated it! Because when you’re young, you want to look older. Then when you’re older, you want to look young. It’s weird how that works. You always think the grass is greener, I guess. Everyone tells me that looking young is a good thing when you’re older. I’ll take their word for it! :D

In any case, I’m looking forward to what 30 will bring. It will be even better than 29! :D

New Website

Welcome one and all to the new Cecilee Linke (dot com). This new site is designed to highlight Cecilee’s tutoring services and make it easy for clients to get in contact with her.

Cecilee is also at work adapting her lessons into a format that can be easily viewed online. Once this is done all clients will be given the option to register at this site to review all material between lessons or even look ahead and learn at an accelerated pace. This registration will, of course, be free to current tutoring clients. Those of you who do not live in the Hampton Roads area will also be able to register for remote lessons delivered through this website and online conferencing software, such as Google Hangouts and Skype. Online lessons will be offered at at discounted rate.

We look forward to helping you learn French!

-Cecilee and the website guy.