29th June 2001 at 01:00
VOICEWORKS: a handbook for singing. Oxford University Press in association with the British Federation of Young Choirs. pound;45 with two CDs.

Choir directors will be delighted with Voiceworks, a superb resource for leaders of choral groups aged 11 to 14. Starting from the premise that singing is a neglected area of the school curriculum, ripe for revitalisation, this handbook covers all the areas a leader needs to know about.

A detailed introduction is followed by sections on how to warm up the voice and rehearse. The discussion of a boy's changing voice is particularly useful. The undoubted triumph of the publication is the very approachable material: 60 songs, from unison to four-part harmony. Songs from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States join spirituals, part songs and popular numbers.

Detailed notes for every song give background information, suggest suitable warm-ups to help with technical details, and include teaching notes and performance ideas.

Ranges are suitable for young voices and can be transposed to suit the forces available: boy, girl, upper voice or mixed SA(T)B. Riffs and harmony parts can be used as the talents and abilities of the group dictate, and some quite sophisticated and multi-layered songs can be built up, if appropriate.

Wordsheets can be downloaded free from the OUP website, and for those choirs that wish to learn from the notes themselves, the song pages are photocopiable, so pound;45 buys you all the resources you need, including the material, on two CDs.

Christopher Bell Christopher Bell is chorus master of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and artistic director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the Ulster Youth Choir and Children's Classic Concerts

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