26th March 2004 at 00:00
Music Workshop

BBC Radio 4 Friday, March 26, 4.40-5am

This broadcast is the culmination of the 10-part "Music Workshop" series on Macbeth, which is also available on audio cassette and CD (pound;9.99 each from BBC Customer Services, tel: 0870 830 8000, where you can also order the teacher's book, playscript and pupils' booklets). The most recent programme in the series can also be heard online through the BBC schools'

website - the latest innovation in school radio.

Music has always been part of the core curriculum on BBC educational radio, which celebrates its 80th anniversary on March 31. In fact, music and Shakespeare came together in the first official BBC broadcast for schools, on April 4, 1924, during which Sir Henry Walford Davies talked about William Shakespeare's songs. An audience of children in the studio listened to a performance of songs, which included "There Was a Lover and His Lass ...". The broadcast went out from the London transmitter 2LO to about 10,000 listeners in the Home Counties, whose schools had been supplied with loudspeakers for the occasion.

Although this is officially commemorated as the start of school radio, there had been an experimental broadcast in Glasgow some five weeks earlier, and even before that some schools had started to use programmes on the wireless (as it was then called) for teaching purposes.

Sir Walford Davies went on to become a regular presenter, speaking off the cuff and coping effortlessly. On one famous occasion a producer had an accident in the studio with one of the records he was hoping to use. Sir Walford Davies carried on unfazed: "Well, children, I did promise you an attractive piece by Brahms, but Mr Dixon has just sat on it".

By the 1950s, school radio was broadcasting a wider range of programmes, which included subjects other than music, although anyone who attended primary school in those days will remember "Music and Movement" - a programme that helped pioneer the mass aerobic workout. Television did not join in until 1957, and then it was the relatively new commercial ITV channel that made the first tentative steps towards educational broadcasting in May that year. The BBC followed in September. The delay may have been due to a feeling that watching television was inherently bad for children, regardless of what was being shown.

Meanwhile, we can all look back with nostalgia to the days of "steam" radio and celebrate that first broadcast of April 1924, remembering a time before videos and computer terminals were considered necessary items of classroom furniture.

Voyeurs and Visionaries

BBC Radio 4 Thursdays from April 1, 11.50am-12noon

One to look out for on radio over the Easter break is this four-part series, introduced by Francine Stock. In it, she looks at the politics of cinema, cinema and literature (how writing has been influenced by the techniques of film), cinema inside the mind (ideas of perception and the effects of visual images on the brain) and how cinema has influenced fashion and romance in our everyday lives.

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