I’m really excited about Listen & Celebrate, a new book I’ve co-written with Helen MacGregor and published with Collins Music. It is designed especially for KS1 and KS2 teachers who are interested in introducing the children in their care to a range of different music created around the world and across history. This book aims to be a resource that any teacher can pick up and use straight away, no matter your level of expertise or resources in your classroom/setting. Diversifying the music and people that children learn about is extremely important, and so we wanted this resource to represent various groups, either through the 15 pieces featured in the book, or the recommended extended listening.
A deeper understanding of music and the world
Trying to focus on only 15 composers was tricky, given the amount of amazing music there is out there! We had a lot of fun listening to different music and thinking about fun activities to go along with them. We included music that encourages children to dance or use their imagination, rather than focusing solely on understanding technical music elements. The activities have been expertly put together by Helen MacGregor, aimed at helping children gain a deeper understanding of the music they hear, making links to the real world and the society around them. We encourage you to use and expand on these activities. Adapt them to suit your settings and environments to make them more culturally relevant to your students. Please share your success stories with us!
What is a composer?
While many of us understand that being a composer does not mean someone sitting by a piano with manuscript paper, it is still a word that can exclude certain groups of people. It can be difficult to find a single composer for certain folk tunes and in some cases, whole styles of music are built upon communities and people who make music together, keeping ancient traditions and stories alive through music and dance. Some children may only associate the idea of a composer with middle-aged white men creating classical music, and we hope that this becomes another resource which will help change those perceptions. We hope this book helps children to realise that composers come from different places, are of many different genders, and create many exciting styles of music.
A path of discovery
Instead of familiar composers and music, we decided to explore music from traditions and places we may not often hear about. People such as Sebó, Sona Jobarteh and Yoko Kanno have not only made amazing music, but their personal journeys contain incredible stories. From Gilberto Gil becoming a musician and politician in Brazil, David Hudson being an expert didgeridoo maker of Aboriginal origin and Evelyn Glennie being profoundly deaf and a world-famous percussionist, these stories can help children to connect with these musicians, their music and realise their own possibilities. Although these tunes and people may not be familiar, we hope that you grow to enjoy listening to them. Feel free to adapt the exercises for the extended listening pieces and share how your lessons are going with others.
We look forward to hearing about how children (and you!) enjoy the activities, stories and music! Tweet me at @n8holder or @CollinsMusic with pictures or stories about how you are using the resource. Don’t forget that when you listen and learn, continue to celebrate the cultures, places, and technology that helped these incredible people express themselves!
Pick up your copy here: