Scottish music pack hits the right notes

21st September 2001 at 01:00
TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH SONGS AND MUSIC. Book and music CD. By Katherine Campbell and Ewan McVicar, illustrated by Finola Stack. Leckie amp; Leckie pound;16.25

At long last, the book and CD of Scottish songs and music that Scotland's teachers have begged for these many years is available.

In this weel stockit kist, you'll find "Clap yer Handies" and "Bee Baw Babbity" for the nursery classes, sangs and stories to bring to life projects on the Jacobites, the Industrial Revolution or the Highland clearances, and enough information to get a good pass mark in the Standard grade music Scottish option.

In 64 charmingly illustrated pages, Katherine Campbell and Ewan McVicar have managed to touch on most of the essentials - musical, historical and cultural - of this huge, fascinating subject.

Ms Campbell is a noted scholar in the field of Scottish music but manages to combine erudition with a talent for explaining things in a straightforward manner. Mr McVicar has been a pioneer in traditional arts education, having worked in countless schools as singer, songwriter and storyteller, and his experience in working with teachers and engaging with children within the 5-14 curriculum and in senior school informs every page of this book.

There are clear, readable and accurate notes on the various Scots and Gaelic song traditions, traditional instruments, music for dancing, music for marching, an excellent section on the pibroch and a good Scots glossary. Dotted through the book are little stories that are ideal as the basis of a drama. At the back there is a list of useful books, recordings, websites and organisations.

Written music is provided for 43 songs and tunes but, even more useful for the teacher less than musically confident, there is the excellent CD: 37 illustrative tracks, from Katherine and Ewan's cheerful presentation of "Coulter's Candy", through classic performances from the great Jeannie Robertson and Seonag NicCoinnich, to a specially recorded condensed version of the magnificent pibroch "I Got a Kiss of the King's Hand".

The CD also features five karaoke tracks. Dazzle the mums, dads, grannies and visiting members of the education committee at your next school concert. Let them hear Primary 6 voices skip through "The De'ils Awa wi the Exciseman" to a tasteful piano and fiddle accompaniment or enjoy Secondary 1 boys giving "Fitba Crazy" laldy, although they might have liked more guitar and less piano on this one.

Sheena Wellington is traditional arts development officer for Fife Council

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