Key Stage 3

1st June 2001 at 01:00
PERFORMING MATTERS. By Barry Gibson. Heinemann. pound;66.99 plus VAT. Available from TES Direct pound;54.99.

Bridging the gap between promise and performance is as important in music as in the political or the private sphere. Barry Gibson's lavish new pack follows the excellent Heinemann tradition by supplying all - sometimes slightly more than all - that a key stage 3 teacher needs to turn pupils' potential into something real.

This is a 150-page collection of practical ideas prefaced by 60 pages of well-argued rationale and supported by two CDs. These theoretical ideas are far from abstract. They cover such topics as memory, ensemble playing, improvisation, the avoidance of "note-bashing", and, above all, the function of good listening.

Gibson then offers a useful compilation of warm-up games and activities. These are by no means all new - though they are given catchy titles - but it is convenient to have tem gathered together, whether the purpose is to explore Gershwin's I Got Rhythm with voice against a clapped pulse, to improvise sung harmonies over canonic chords or to use a set of riffs serially or simultaneously.

The bulk of the book is taken up with two sets of projects, clearly divided into smaller manageable units. Some draw on general musical principles, such as the use of repetition with dynamic change, the creation of atmospheres or the combination of sound modules into larger structures. Others are concerned with different styles, sometimes using classical forebears such as Monteverdi or Purcell to help generate contemporary aural offspring, sometimes using features of pop or world music to provide opportunities for pupils to transpose, harmonise or develop bass-lines. Anyone with an instrument or just voice, hands or feet should be able to combine enjoyment with accomplishment.


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