Music for and from the Young and the Old. This time we take you to Australia for some great dancing for young children, then take a rest by listening to some international lullabies and finish off with some songs that a folk legend recorded with school kids...
Anybody up for a dance? Well, if you have young children, this book & two CD set is a perfect introduction to dancing. Mike Jackson's "Rig-A-Jig-Jig! Dances for Little Kids" is a collection of dances and musical games suggested for ages 3 to 7. The book provides a total of 24 dances, each with dance instructions and cartoon illustrations, lyrics if it's a song and sheet music. The dances are graded from * (easiest dances) to *** (more challenging).
The two companion CDs offer good quality music and song to each of the dances, played in by Mike Jackson, renowned Australian childrens music singer/songwriter, and the Rantan Bush Band, a highly accaimed childrens entertainment band. There are dance instructions/calling at the beginning of most numbers (unless dance movements are obvious according to the lyrics of a song), so once you have familiarised yourselves with the dances, the book is not required for dancing. The music is generally based on traditional music and ceilidh music, with instruments including accordion and guitar but also the occasional addition of e.g. clarinet giving the music then a more jazzy flavour. The music includes classic childrens' activity songs such as "Hokey Pokey", "Birdie Dance" and "Dingle Dangle Scarecrow", as well as traditonal tune medleys to go with the more difficult and "grown-up" dances such as a Circassian Circle, Reels and Polkas.
Key target groups for this set are schools and playgroups - but it is a great set to own for parents as well. Most of the activity songs can be done and enjoyed just between parent and child, while the group dances may form the perfect basis for a fun activity at a childrens party. Yasmine, 2½ years, enjoys the music, happily dancing along to the simpler activity songs, and jumping about to the more difficult ones. Recommended!
After all that dancing it may now be time for a rest - so why not listen to "Cantilena - night songs from around the world. This attractive album presents mostly traditional lullabies literally from around the world - with origins and in languages as varied as French, Scottish Gaelic, Argentinian, Japanese, Italian, Swedish, Irish and Romanian - alongside a few classical tracks. American singer Patrice O'Neill has a beautiful clear voice, making this variety of songs her own. She is backed subtly and very effectively by master classical guitarist Hilary Field, with even more subtly occasional additions from a range of other musicians, including members of a Symphony Orchestra. There is a classical feel to this music from mostly traditional sources. This is a very pleasant and calming album - perfect for young and old for winding down at the end of a day.
Finally, staying in America, a childrens' album from a living folk legend - Pete Seeger. Pete, who is now already 91 years old, has spent over the last few years time in schools in his home town Beacon NY, teaching students through songs about the river Hudson and related environmental awareness. These class sessions, quickly becoming song fests, have led to this studio recording, "Tomorrow's Children", with Pete Seeger in all songs, joined by the "rivertown kids" and several other musicians. The choice of songs on the album provides a mix of Pete Seeger classics such as "Turn Turn Turn", a new song, and songs adapted and added to by the students. Pete can be heard on all songs. The pace of the songs is similar throughout the CD, which makes the songs sound a bit same-y.
While I can only applaud Pete to work with school children and inspire them through music and song, I have to say that I am disappointed by this album. The recording quality reminds me more of an amateur recording of a school production - while that may keep the authenticity of the sessions, it is not the kind of recording quality I would have expected. No doubt a great souvenir for all involved, and no doubt Pete Seeger fans will wish to have this album in their collection. But beyond that I am not sure how far it will appeal. Shame really.
Photo Credits: (1)-(3) Book & CD Cover: Jackson/Craig 'Rig-a-jig- jig!', Field/O'Neill 'Cantilena', Pete Seeger 'Tomorrow's Children' (from website.)