Read this entire page before beginning the Trope lessons on your own -- they'll make much more sense afterward!
What is Trope?
Trope, also called cantillation marks, are the symbols around the words of the Torah that tell us how to chant the text. The V'ahavta prayer comes directly from the Torah, so it's a great place to start learning trope, whether you already know the tune for the prayer or not.
Every word in the Torah has a symbol assigned to it called a Trope Mark that tells you how to chant (sing) that word.
Soon you’ll be “teaching yourself”: once you learn the patterns (with just a little help from the online audio, videos, worksheets, your teacher, and even your classmates), you can apply them to any part of the Torah you want – not just the V’ahavta, but also your Bar or Bat Mitzvah portion and any Torah reading in the future!
There are two types of Trope: Royals (Kings, Queens, Dukes, etc.) and Servants. Imagine the entire Torah as a vast kingdom, and the various Royals often travel around their land. Some of these Royals like to travel with a several Servants around them; others prefer to travel alone. Many of the Servants travel with multiple Royals, and sometimes they sing a different tune depending on the Royal they are serving at the moment. The Royal is always the last symbol in the caravan (traveling party) and the Servants always announce their Royal's arrival ahead of them.
Your task will be to find each Royal and, if applicable, any Servants traveling with him or her.
As you learn how to identify each new Royal, go to your V’ahavta Highlighting worksheet.
Each Lesson introduces one Royal, except for the Rare Trope lesson all the way at the end, which will include a few.
The way I set up the lessons work best if you follow this protocol for each lesson:
Have a printout of the V'ahavta Highlighting Exercise available, as well as highlighters. A 10-pack is best -- it'll have enough colors.
Read the names of each symbol and click the play button by it to hear its audio. The word is the name of that symbol.
Chant the Practice Lines on your own, then play the audio to check yourself.
Find an example of the Royal trope from that Lesson's phrase on your V'ahavta page, and highlight it in the color listed at the top of the Lesson page.
Go backwards from that word and see if that Royal has any Servants by matching them to the options on the Lesson page. Highlight those Servants in the same color as the Royal.
Match the phrase you just highlighted to the Practice Line with the same symbol combination. Practice that phrase with the names of the trope, as it's written on the Practice Line.
Then apply that same tune to the words in the V'ahavta. Check yourself with the audio on the Lesson page.
Continue through the V'ahavta, repeating steps 4-7 for each Royal you find of the trope you just learned.
Once you're comfortable with the tunes for the phrases you've highlighted, move on to the next Lesson.