Sounds limited

10th May 1996 at 01:00
BLUEPRINTS MUSIC KEY STAGE 2. By Aelwyn Pugh and Lesley Pugh. Stanley Thornes. Teacher's book Pounds 12 Pupil's copymaster book Pounds 15. Cassette Pounds 12 + VAT

Blueprints Music is a collection of musical activities to be used as a self-contained course or as and when the teacher wishes. It is suitable for specialists or teachers inexperienced in music, with the cassette providing song accompaniments and listening material.

It does indeed cover a lot of ground, developing a sense of pitch, rhythm, pulse, dynamics and shape, introducing concepts of texture and timbre and establishing some basic principles of notation.

The material has been structured with a clear sense of purpose and incremental progress through the book, developing, for example, basic notation from the metrical stress and rhythms of the songs almost to the point of introducing actual musical notation.

This is all useful and workable, but many teachers will find the actual material chosen to be narrow and heavily Eurocentric. There is a token representation of music from other cultures, but while a large section of the book carefully introduces us to European music from Gregorian chant to the 19th century, pupils are expected to absorb the complexities of Indian music in two paragraphs.

In the format and presentation of the book one again senses a rather cosy world where children sing sea shanties and folk songs which are in themselves excellent teaching material, but they encounter little that reflects the world beyond their horizons.

There are some good ideas in the graphic representations, such as the use of right and left symbols for beaters on chime bars and pictorial representation of strong beats and rhythm patterns, but some of the worksheets are potentially confusing, and include some inaccuracies.

In the accompaniment to "Old Molly Hare" the note C appears to introduce an intriguing tritone but is in fact a misprint for the note G. Again, the instructions for "Leap Down" suggest that the chime bars have been drawn the wrong way round.

On a practical level, this song and others introduced early on have a rather daunting range for children in the early stages of singing, especially if being taught by an inexperienced or non specialist teacher.

This collection provides a great deal of good classroom material and will be welcomed in general by non-specialists, but one feels that there should be much more exploration and stimulation of the imagination at this level; in the end children do not merely move step by step, sometimes they may leap a whole octave, given the appropriate stimuli.

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