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Local musician to offer summer language-learning camps

ST. CHARLES – After living in Europe for four years, Brianna Smith will return to her native St. Charles to share a unique program that combines music and foreign language-learning for children.

With a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, the musically inclined Smith will teach Music Lingua – German and Spanish foreign language-learning summer camps – in July and August.

Music Lingua is a program that uses music movement, storytelling and art to teach foreign language to children ages 2 to 8 years old (ages up to 10 years old can be considered).

“I just think it will be something fun,” Smith said. “When kids are so young, they learn really quickly. People think, ‘Oh it’s too young to learn,’ but I started playing piano when I was 5 years old, and now I still play.”

Smith said she fully realized music’s ability to connect to memory when she played piano during a previous summer at the Hunter Club Village apartment community for seniors in St. Charles, where her grandma, who experienced brain damage after having a cardiac arrest, resides.

“We were doing these Broadway hits that [my grandma] would have known when she was younger, and right away without even looking at the words, she remembered the lyrics,” Smith said.

In addition to Smith’s love of music, she discovered a passion for languages after living in Vienna, Austria, and Madrid, Spain, where she learned German and Spanish.

“Music is one of the best ways to learn other things because it breaks down inhibition and makes it fun to learn,” Smith said, adding that – as a certified instructor – she taught English and music through the Helen Doron early English learning schools in Austria and Madrid. “I did it myself in Austria … so why not try it [in St. Charles] and see if it works, because it worked so well there.”

The camps will consist of learning a foreign language through song, vocabulary, visuals, games and crafts. Depending on the level of interest in each language, children will be separated by age, and classes will be coordinated to best fit the schedules of interested participants. The Spanish class theme will be “Under the Sea,” and the German class theme will be “On the Farm.”

The location of the class still is being considered.

“It depends on how many people sign up,” she said. “See how much interest we can drum up and then go from there if we’re going to rent out a space or if we’re going to do it in my basement or in my backyard [in St. Charles].”

If more children sign up, Smith said the MECA music school in South Elgin may be a suitable meeting space.

Participants will receive learning materials, books and a CD.

For information, camp dates, pricing or to sign up, email Smith at or call 630-377-2513.

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