Let the beat go on

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Tom Deveson chooses swinging music resources

Music Island Adventure Seven-plus Listen Hear (version 4): Understanding the language of music 14-plus Stewart Publishers CD-Roms pound;12 each + pound;3 pp

School licences from pound;12 each www.stewartpublishers.co.uk

Musical Instruments of the Indian Sub-Continent By Punitha Perinparaja Kala Anjali Arts pound;10 Orders: 020 8866 3015 Seven-plus

Music Island is set in a wide blue sea. Click on its landmarks and you're launched into games and activities that require you to engage in challenging musical thinking.

Every plank that helps build a bridge for Chico the monkey to cross the river is accompanied by a two-bar phrase; the trick is to arrange them in a series that makes a satisfying 16-bar tune.

If you travel on the Mountain Railway, you need to match the notation that you see with the rhythms and pitch patterns that you hear.

Children in the upper half of primary school will have great fun with this.

Their teachers might elbow them aside to play with the Rock Pool Band, a wonderfully surreal mixing console. The starfish is on drums, the crab on bass, and the octopus on keyboards. Other marine musicians provide the jazzy tracks, while you adjust the relative volume of their contributions to the overall sound. Three other games, puzzles and pictures and notes make this an attractive resource.

Older pupils revising for GCSEs will find themselves looking up a topic in Listen Hear: Understanding the Language of Music and going on to explore many others. This "dictionary of key musical concepts" brings together definitions and illustrations of more than 200 concepts, linking history, theory, notation and an excellent range of extracts. Click on melisma and you hear a chorus from Handel's Messiah providing a fine example.

Try accelerando, and you get a piece that demonstrates rallentando and adagio. Romanticism offers a brief but clear survey of the word's meaning and a recording of the end of Isolde's Liebestod in the Wagner opera. The links between concepts are nicely managed.

The entry on Koto (a Japanese string instrument) leads you to shakuhachi (a flute) and a track featuring both. Boogie-woogie is derived from its blues roots and can be matched with jazz and ragtime.

Enharmonic takes you to the broader notion of modulation with a series of successive chords that let you listen to and identify the appropriate changes. The video clips show techniques that can't be learned from hearing alone - a violinist demonstrating pizzicato with a cellist playing arco.

This is another resource teachers can profitably use.

Although Punitha Perinparaja's guide to Indian instruments in Musical Instruments of the Indian Sub-Continent relies on old-fashioned technology - colour photographs, line drawings and the printed word - it combines lucid information with suggestions for putting newly acquired understanding to practical and enjoyable use.

The instruments - strings, woodwind, tuned and untuned percussion and the harmonium - are set in their historical context, their distinctive sounds are described and players' methods are explained.

Playscripts and songs suggest possibilities for class assemblies or festival events. This resource is another reminder that the world of music has no boundaries

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