Get into singing with a new style manual

Youth Music UK launched its Singbook project in Scotland last week with a workshop for teachers and youth workers at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Three more will follow in March and April.

The Singbook has been developed in England as part of Youth Music UK's commitment to promote singing experiences for the young in school and community contexts. The Singbook is a collection of 12 songs specially commissioned from established songwriters and lyricists in various musical fields, from rap to classical. They include Don Black and Debbie Wiseman, Howard Goodall, Eugene Skeef, Steve Martland and Nirmala Shah.

The songs are in several languages in addition to English, including Chinese and Gujarati, and colour coded to indicate the likely level of difficulty.

The next workshops, in Aberdeen (March 24-25), the Borders (April 21-22) and Stirling (April 28-29), will be residential.

"We will be looking to attract not only class teachers, but anyone who is involved in teaching children to sing," says Nicola Killean, the Scottish development officer for Youth Music UK. "The residential element of the workshops is an important part of the experience."

The Glasgow session, which went under the title "Sing! One Scotland, Many Voices", introduced the Singbook concept to class teachers from the nursery, school and college sectors, music service co-ordinators, cultural co-ordinators, education managers, and representatives from community-based outreach projects.

"We want to reach people who are in a position to take it out into their own areas and encourage others to come to the spring workshops," says Ms Killean. "Those people in turn will take the Singbook concept to the thousands of children they teach."

The songbook prints both lyrics and music in a photocopy-friendly manner and includes suggestions for warm-up exercises, aids to teaching each song and suggestions for exploring issues raised by the songs which are relevant to other areas of the curriculum. It comes with two CDs, featuring recorded versions of the songs with accompaniment, and is supported by online resources.

"We chose not to use the standard song categorisation by age or school class level," explains Helen Price of Youth Music UK, "because children do develop at different speeds, and the book will be used outside school as well."

For more on Singbook workshops, tel 020 7902

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