Eins, Zwei, Drei, Prost! German music appreciation course planned during Oktoberfest

David Holmer (left), a former ISE exchange student, teaches German to Manistee seniors earlier this year. He will host a series of free classes on German music appreciation which are open to the public. (Courtesy Photo)

MANISTEE — Between the enthusiastic toasts and reverberating deep brass of Bavarian oompah bands, the sounds of Oktoberfest are unmistakable.

Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, Oktoberfest boasts the title of the world’s largest folk festival with 5 to 7 million visitors each year.

Local Germanophile, David Holmer, plans to highlight the distinctive sounds of this event in a series of German music appreciation classes which will coincide with the popular folk festival.

The classes will be held every Tuesday from Sept. 17 to Oct. 8, with two times made available for each lesson.

One will be held at 2 p.m. in the Green Room of the Manistee County Council on Aging (MCCOA) located on River Street. The other will occur at 6:30 p.m. in the parlor of the First Congregational Church on Fourth Street.

Holmer said that the music appreciation classes replace a German language course he taught at the Manistee County senior center in April.

“The first classes started out as German conversational classes,” Holmer said. “We went through vocabulary — learning to speak and pronounce it. Over the summer, we changed our classes from strictly conversational to German music appreciation classes.”

The course won’t focus solely on German folk music, it will also introduce attendees to the German language through translations of Oktoberfest song lyrics and toasts.

“I know it’s easier for me to learn something new if you put it to music,” said Jeanne Barber, MCCOA assistant to the executive director. “I think it would be so much easier to learn a language with music. It’s just such an innovative idea and it’s going to be fun.”

Though the free program will be open to the public, Barber said the earlier language courses were a hit at the Senior Center.

“I think it’s important that we stretch our capabilities of what we think we can do,” said Barber. “Our seniors were tickled pink when we said we were going to start a German class — they really liked that idea.”

Beer drinkers are advised that this will be a dry event, with decaffeinated coffee taking the place of Bavarian Marzen and German Lagers during toasts.

Holmer also intends to host a companion series for Christmas, beginning Nov. 26 through Dec. 17, in which he will be discussing four German Christmas carols.

If these courses are successful, Holmer hopes it may lead to greater things for the Manistee community.

“If these take off, we’re hoping that when we move over to the Wagoner Center we can offer a community class-time,” he said. “I would love to see it grow from a class and actually start a festival or do an Oktoberfest here.”

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