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Reviewed by John Dabell
OMG!!! Under new government rules, primary pupils will only get credit for using exclamation marks in sentences beginning with ‘What’ or ‘How’ – which sort of puts the brakes on their enthusiasm.
I’m struggling with this, because I use the exclamation mark freely when excited. For example, I have two new resources from Out of the Ark Music and I want to say that I think they are fabulous!! But now I’m only allowed to say that I think they are fabulous. Even without an exclamation mark or two, though, you’ll hopefully still be able appreciate my enthusiasm…
Songs for EVERY Growing School is a brand new collection of 15 refreshing and exciting tunes. Schools are all about development, so it makes perfect sense to use singing to celebrate growth, whether that be in mind, health, community, bricks and mortar, life, love, celebration or gratitude.
If you are looking for fun, tried-and-tested songs to teach and inspire, you’re in the right place. You get an Activity Songbook and an interactive Words on Screen CD ROM, which is fabulous. The Songbook is your source of inspiration, with imaginative ideas and curriculum links, and the songs forming the basis for a whole host of activities.
The book also includes a handy song information chart, giving you a spreadsheet-like overview of what each one is about, the intended ages, subject links and musical style – as well as the vocal range, key, musical elements covered, activity ideas and inter-related dimensions. And, of course, it comes supplied with lyrics and music, in the form of a piano music score, melody and chords.
As mentioned, there are plenty of activity suggestions. Each song has teaching tips, a spotlight on the musical genre being covered and a ‘Write your own verse’ pupil worksheet – not to mention a ‘Bright idea’and ‘What’s achievable’ suggestion.
The Words on Screen CD-ROM is a must, as it allows you to display lyrics on any whiteboard, computer screen, TV or interactive touchscreen. The lyrics synchronise with the music as it plays, making the songs much easier to learn. All this for £42.95 – now that’s worth getting.
Another resource from Out of the Ark is the wonderfully entertaining Mystery At Magpie Manor – a 60-minute musical gem just begging to be used as an end-of-term production. It’s the roaring 20s, and in the dilapidated Magpie Manor, Lord and Lady Pica find themselves having to take drastic action in order to save their home. A plan is hatched between the family and their bank manager to sell off the family silver at auction – but at the things go pear- shaped at the auction house when a priceless family heirloom disappears…
Inspector Spectre is soon on the case, partnering with none other than Agatha Christie herself. Between them, they have to work out who’s to blame for the carrying out the deed – and everyone seems to have a motive…
Mystery At Magpie Manor a lively production with eight fantastic songs, a very witty script and brilliant twist in the tale. There are 48 parts in total, so enough for a couple of classes, with 32 speaking parts and 16 non-speaking parts.
The Mystery At Magpie Manor package comes with a Teacher’s Book containing the music score and lyrics, a character list, ideas for costumes (such as Flapper fashion) suggestions for props and the full script with stage directions. There are also choreography suggestions for a couple of the songs and dance routines.
If you are looking to entertain with plenty of razzmatazz and humour, then this show is the one to get – and you can do just that by buying the book, audio CD, Words on Screen CD-ROM and instant performance licence, all for £59.75
VERDICT: Hitting the high notes
What I like about the Out of the Ark resources is that all the songs are teachable by anyone and everyone. If you have zero prior knowledge of music education (perhaps something that perhaps applies to 99% of all primary teachers) then you’re in safe hands. All the materials you need to give your children confidence and inspiration are here. The vocal tracks in both resources are beautifully sung by children to an extremely high standard against professionally-recorded backing tracks, so what you’re getting here is a high-quality production.
Out of the Ark is one of primary education’s favourite creators of musical resources – and having seen these two new releases that deliver plenty of exclamation marks for their energy, creativity, high standards and fun, it’s easy to see why.
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