My daughters have sung along with everything they hear on the radio, old-fashioned cd’s, Spotify or, more recently, Tiktok, for as long as I can remember. Mostly English songs, even though Dutch and Spanish are their native languages. They mimic the sounds and ask me what it means. Little by little they learn English words and pronunciation by imitation. Is it a coincidence that in countries where movies are subtitled instead of dubbed, people tend to speak more languages? Compare Portugal to Spain, or the Netherlands to Germany, for example!
Research has shown that older people who are suffering from dementia often still remember old songs and are even capable of learning new ones. So when speech and memory have deteriorated, they can still learn a new song to tell them in what order to get dressed in the morning: “first your socks and then your shoes”. Music is a very powerful tool to teach you new things.
Also, learning through music is fun! It not only teaches you new words and helps with pronunciation, but it’s also a great way to learn more about the culture and to meet other people. In Amsterdam, for example, there is a monthly event in Paradiso where you can sing Dutch songs together with Dutch speakers and other Dutch learners (https://www.paradiso.nl/nl/programma/zing-nederlands-met-me/50374/). Also, there are Dutch bars that organise sing-along evenings.
What is the challenge?
The challenge is to find Dutch music you enjoy listening to. The Dutch music that you hear on the radio is not all there is on offer. With a bit of digging, I am sure you can find something to your liking! From ska to rap to love ballads, rock music or even punk, metal or country, there is something to love for every taste.
Look up Dutch songs that you like on YouTube that come with the lyrics, or find them online. Sing along!
If the typical Dutch songs from Marco Borsato, Trijntje Oosterhuis and André Hazes are not your thing, no worries, because there is Dutch music for all flavours. We have Doe Maar, a reggae and skaband from the eighties and nineties. We have some pretty awesome hiphop artists like Fresku, Sep, Saman Amini, The Opposites, and others.
We also have old-fashioned rock in dialect, like Rowwen Heze or “Lekker Dieng” from Nuff Said. We have plenty of singer-songwriters as well. Old school singers like Boudewijn de Groot, Drs.P and Ramses Shaffy, or the younger generation, with Eefje de Visser, Tim Knol, Stef Bos, Spinvis, Maaike Ouboter. Anouk is a rock singer who sings both in Dutch and in English. Heideroosjes is a Dutch Punk band and Heidevolk is a Dutch Folk Viking Metal band (yes, I know…). Furthermore, there are bands like Nielson, Raccoon, De Kift, De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, De Kik, and Waar is Ken?. Also Jacques Brel has some songs in Dutch and Rita Reijs, the Dutch jazz legend from the past century, also has a few songs in Dutch.
And… even if you don’t find any Dutch-spoken music you enjoy, try going to concerts from Dutch bands that sing in English, to get to know Dutchies with a similar taste in music! https://theculturetrip.com/europe/the-netherlands/articles/10-dutch-musicians-you-should-be-listening-to/