Haftarah cantillation – Teachers’ guide


What are cantillation signs ?
        This video will explain:

      1. The role of cantillation signs (trope)
      2. The difference between trope when reading Torah and Haftarah
      3. Teaching trope (demonstration)
      4. How to use the flash cards


Printouts to download

3. Musical notation

2. כרטיסייות הברקה

1. Cantillation signs

The history of cantillation signs. Dr. Emanuel Alon

Dr. Emanuel Alon

The tradition of using cantillation signs is an ancient one. In the Talmud, which was completed by the year 500 C.E., we find a number of references to the tradition of melodic reading of the Torah.  The cantillation signs themselves developed at a later date. They were developed over a long period of time, and were completed at the end of the 9th century at the same time that the vowels were instituted. 
The system of cantillation signs and marks we know today was developed in Tiberias, and is associated with the Ben Asher family.  The Bible has two sets of signs, one for the majority of the books of the Bible, the melodies with which we are familiar (from the Torah, Haftarah and Megillah readings in the synagogue), and the other for the books of Job, Proverbs, and Psalms, the melody of which is unknown.
The most important role of the trope is a musical one. The melody and rhythm help to learn a text. Remember that before the invention of print, most people only heard the Torah and the Haftarot when they were read out loud in the synagogue.
The cantillation signs also help make different linguistic distinctions. They indicate which syllable of the word is accented (which determines the meaning of the word), and they serve as punctuation marks that change the meaning of the sentence.


Teaching sequence

1.Teach the trope in the order they appear on the worksheet:

  • Have the student listen to the recording of the first cantillation sign.
  • Repeat the melody.
  • Look for the trope in the text, and have the student practice singing the word with the trope melody. If you printed the text, choose a color and mark the cantillation sign.
  • Go through the entire reading and practice the trope melody in every word in which it appears.
  • Continue the process for each of the cantillation signs, marking each sign in a different color.

2. After you have taught the individual trope melodies, work on the various combinations of trope melodies

  • Have the student listen to the recording of the combination.
  • Repeat the melody of the combination.
  • Find the combination in the text and practice the phrase.
  • Go through the entire reading and practice the combination every time it occurs.
  • Continue in the same manner for all the combinations.

3. Have the learner listen to and practice the blessing before the Haftarah

  • Practicing this blessing helps to remember the trope.
  • Have the learner listen to the recording of this blessing.
  • Have the learner sing the blessing with the melody.

4. Practicing the entire Haftarah reading:

  • We recommend having the learner listen to each verse and then repeat it.
  • After practicing individual verses, have the learner practice the entire reading.
Cantillation signs

The most frequently found trope

The less frequently found trope

The least frequently found trope