23rd February 2001 at 00:00
WHAT WILL WE PLAY TODAY? By Veronicah Larkin and Louie Suthers. FUN WITH SONGS. By David Jones. pound;12.95 each. START WITH A SONG. By Mavis de Mierre. Brilliant Publications pound;14.95


What Will We Play Today? is a personal collection of games and songs that has been developed over many years of working with adults and children. It contains more than 100 splendid suggestions that can be used with small babies through to preschool children. Many use chants and songs - some with familiar tunes and one or two that pleasingly reflect a multi-cultural dimension.

Almost all involve physical movement, some with hoops, balls and other props, some are simple dances and many are action rhymes. The authors warn inexperienced teachers to take things slowly at first. Each activity is clearly laid out with immaculate instructions. A collection worth every penny.

Fun with Songs is another personal collection of 30 songs written by a primary school teacher with simple piano accompanimen. They are grouped under headings that could link to national curriculum topics, and several might be used in assembly to stimulate thought and discussion.

Start with a Song contains 70 new songs to use with children aged two to five years. This collection also results from many years of personal experience. The introductory advice is mildly patronising, but the six sections contain some very useful ideas. The notes for adults cover suggestions for each song, ideas for extending and modifying, things to talk about and in some cases suggestions for music to listen to.

Sing a song of Africa, Ireland and Latin America are from a series of piano arrangements for children to play and sing. The authors suggest that they are suitable for players of Grade 12 standard though some are rhythmically quite tricky. What a shame that tempo or dynamic markings are not included - surely these are essential ingredients for any music to have character or interpretation. Let's hope discerning teachers will chose to discuss this with their pupils.

Leonora Davies is music inspector for Haringey

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