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Jolly rocking funky maths

Old-timers who grumble that modern music has neither lyrics nor tunes could find their prayers answered in September.

Singing Tables is just what it promises: all the way from one times one to ten times ten, set to four jolly tunes and warbled by the children of Moorfield Junior School Choir in Stockport.

The CD-Rom was inspired by Education Secretary David Blunkett earlier this month when he suggested schools should make maths lessons more fun by setting times tables to reggae music.

Educational software company Europress immediately commissioned Mel Dean - a composer more used to working with the likes of Shirley Bassey and Des O'Connor than a class of 11-year- olds - to create four funky times tables backing tunes for the school choir to record.

Mr Dean has toned down his wilder rock n' roll urges to create a sedate military style march, a chugging train, a slow waltz and, of course, a reggae number.

Moorfield head David Phillips admits the reggae one sounds more like "a cowboy moseying across the desert" than true Caribbean rhythm. "People may mock, " he says, "but if David Blunkett and Stephen Byers had learnt their times tables to, say, the cha cha, some nice blues or even Des O' Connor, then Mr Byers might have known the answer to seven eights was 56 not 54. And Mr Blunkett might not have been forced to giggle for five minutes when asked what seven times nine was."

Apparently anything with a disruptive beat won't work. That rules out most pupils' favourite music. But Mr Phillips thinks the Spice Girls' Wannabee and the Mike Flowers Pops version of Wonderwall might work.

However, Mr Phillips is keen to point out Moorfield's pupils are diverse in their musical tastes. "We enjoy all sorts of music here", he insists. "Recently, we've listened to the 1812 Overture and a Dave Brubeck jazz track in assembly. And we do listen to modern pop music. I brought some Dire Straits in last term."

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