TES Schoolbook Award Judges report

Tom Deveson

12/03/1999 Times Educational Supplement

The judges’ reports;Primary and secondary schoolbook award for music;TES competition

 

THE SECONDARY SCHOOLBOOK AWARD FOR MUSIC - WINNER: Singing Matters. By Patrick Allen. Heinemann. £43.99.

Photocopiable pack

 

Children are still required both to enjoy and to understand what remains of national curriculum music. We looked for books that would help their teachers help them to do so. We were sent just over 30 works, in all sizes, from bulky ring-binders to minimal paperbacks, and in all modes, from the embarrassingly imprecise to the wonderfully liberating.

 

When it came to the secondary books, our range of choice was smaller and our decision immediate. We knew that hard-bitten, sceptical teenagers have firm group tastes and won’t be condescended to by well-intentioned teachers, but also that once aroused, their enthusiasm can be powerful.

 

Singing Matters made an immediate impact. We liked its loose-leaf format. “Try these songs,” it seems to say, “but add your own, too.” We appreciated its accurate and positive advice on warm-ups and exercises, its appendix of chants and social songs for informal occasions, its well-considered suggestions on the use of keyboards and instruments, its flexibility in the matter of pitching vocal lines for breaking voices. All these attested to the planning and judgment of an experienced teacher.

 

But above all, we liked the great range of material on offer, combined with the thoughtful ways in which melodic structures are used to reflect the singing strength of the class, and coaching strategies are outlined for challenging higher expectations in singing. From Schubert’s “Trout” to “Barbara Ann”, from “Loch Lomond” to the Zulu “Siyahamba”, from “Wonderwall” to a 16th-century pavane, there is enough here to keep spirits high and walls echoing term after term.

 

It was hard on dependable compilations like the new Music Matters 11-14 to come up against such outstanding opposition. But Singing Matters did for us what music should do, as the national curriculum rubric still commands; it gave us knowledge and it gave us pleasure.

 

TOM DEVESON

 

JUDGES: Michael Burnett senior lecturer Southlands College, Wimbledon, south London

Leonora Davies inspector for music for the London borough of Haringey

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