Voices that need to be heard;Primary;Reviews;Books;Music and the Arts

12th February 1999 at 00:00
Primary Music: Later Years By Joanna Glover and Susan YoungFalmer Press pound;13.95 We need a book as good as this. It follows the authors' excellent guide to music for the early years and gives intelligent consideration to key stage 2, that amorphous aggregation that includes both tiny believers in magic and sceptical proto-teenagers.

Joanna Glover and Susan Young have a serious thesis: that music should be considered developmentally, as children become increasingly aware of a complex external musical world and of varying (and antagonistic) styles that carry cultural significance and value, often of a self-defining kind. They are also growing more mindful of the multiple ways in which different styles combine the elements of musical language.

The book is by no means as theoretical as this sounds. It is a guide not a syllabus, rooted in subtle observation, clear thought and sympathetic practicality. The authors know what goes on in classrooms and offer dozens of suggestions for influencing the best kinds of work.

They are particularly concerned with the need to support musical awareness, which needs time (an increasingly precious commodity) as well as the ability to explore experiences through questioning and language, both analytical and metaphorical.

There are excellent sections on voice and instruments. These both present a range of challenges. There is advice on breathing and posture, but also on extending vocal techniques, part-singing, song-writing, call and response, hocketing, drones and ostinati, each with its own useful and stimulating example.

The emphasis on the need to be uncompromising is especially welcome. True musical learning needs individual opportunity as well as group work, occasions to "hear it, think it and hear it". Pressure on the timetable is inescapable, but music can't be fitted into the dwindling intervals between literacy and numeracy demands. The authors suggest intelligently how this can be done.

Sections on dance, drama and listening move smoothly from choreography to jigs and reels, from Hildegard to Sondheim, from investigating the invisible to recognising the features of a Tudor In Nomine. This is an optimistic, encouraging, impassioned and honest book.

Tom Deveson Tom Deveson is music advisory teacher for the London borough of Southwark

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