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Stage set to go solo

THE ESSENTIAL STRING METHOD. Boosey amp; Hawkes. Four books for each of violin, viola, cello and double bass. pound;4.99. key stage 2 upwards. BUY A BAND. Boosey amp; Hawkes. 30 different CD-Roms. pound;4.99 each. key stage 3 upwards. WANNABE A POP STAR. Boosey amp; Hawkes with Attica Interactive. CD-Rom, pound;14.99. key stage 2 upwards.

Three packages have been awarded Millennium Product status in recognition of their contribution to innovative music education. They represent different strands of musical learning and distinct attitudes to musical history.

The Essential String Method appears to be traditional but is really timeless in its focus on young musicians as whole people. The violin, for example, is a collaborator and friend who speaks and dances and questions and sings. Notation is taught as a direct reflection of musical experiences, not as an abstraction; pitch is taught as something that can be discovered interactively, its movements mimicked by bodily activity. This means that the development of posture or bowing methods arises from a growing musicality that reinforces the specific lesson being learned.

This is a very welcome guid, providing an initiation into a lifetime of pleasure.

Buy a Band is for teenagers who want to play their solos backed by a virtual ensemble or try their hand at arranging. The CDs use old music in modern digital recordings. The opportunities come in two forms. The CDs will play versions of the entire piece, together with accompaniments for instruments in C, B flat and E flat. Or users can print off the melody and bass lines, change the instrumentation using 128 possible timbres and transpose and alter tempo at the click of a mouse button. It is also possible to mute individual channels and to bring out solos.

The Wannabe package puts a pop star fantasy inside your computer, ready to be retrieved whenever more active or adventurous music-making seems too challenging. You can audition from arrays of animated guitarists, singers and drummers, each with their own name and musical idiosyncrasy. Then you can combine sets of interlocking intros, song segments and choruses into your chosen permutation, rehearse your band and give a performance - all good fun.

Tom Deveson


Boosey amp; Hawkes stand PV261

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