Tessa Bartley reports on a primary singing resource
Curriculum emphasis on literacy, numeracy and science in primary schools has left little time for the arts and humanities, according to Kevin Stannard, course leader for the BA music degree at Wolverhampton University. He says that an average state primary can dedicate just 24 hours a year to teaching music, and warns that BEd courses specialising in music have rapidly declined.
Kevin has written Junior Voiceworks, a new title in OUP's acclaimed Voiceworks series. Aimed at teaching singing to key stage 2, the book seeks to arouse an interest in singing at a young age. Written with non-specialist teachers in mind, it provides sheet music for 33 songs with catchy tunes and rhythms, great lyrics about topical subjects and harmonies to get pupils' ears tuned to. Encompassing chanting, two-part harmonies and rounds as well as unison singing, each song is accompanied by information about its history and a guide to rehearsing it. There are warm-up exercises, advice about posture, breathing, pronunciation, rhythm and dynamics, expanding on the songs, how to overcome the tricky parts and how to achieve a great performance.
Kevin drew on his own experience of singing. Since 1998, he has been the chorus master for the National Association of Primary Education's Festival of Voices, leading thousands of children in singing across the UK.
Some of the songs in Junior Voiceworks can be performed unaccompanied, others have a simple piano accompaniment. A complementary CD with performance and backing tracks for all songs is provided.
At the Music Industries Association 2004 awards, the UK's 100 top independent music shops selected Junior Voiceworks as Best Classical Publication.
Steven Maxson, performing arts teacher at Foxhills School Technology College, Scunthorpe, and musical director of North East Lincolnshire Youth Choir, says: "I've used Junior Voiceworks to very good effect. It is a tremendous resource, suitable for a wide variety of situations. Children enjoy the songs, and the arrangements work extremely well." Di Matthews-Levine, from Stagecoach Theatre School in Leamington Spa, says it is "an excellent resource, with a wide range of songs that motivate students and improve their technique and musicianship."
lTES Teacher has six copies of Junior Voiceworks to give away. To win one, email your name and school address by Friday July 29 to: firstname.lastname@example.org