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Sing it and Say it: A Bookful of Ancient Greece (Audio CD)

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1 Review

Author: Sara Ridgley, Gavin Mole / Audio Cassette / 156 Pages / Book is published 1996-09 by International Music Publications

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      21.06.2009 10:22
      Very helpful



      Much more than a musical!

      Sing It and Say It- a Bookful of Ancient Greece, is a piece of musical magic in my opinion, written by Sara Ridgley and Gavin Mole, a professional partnership since 1999.

      Sara writes the lyrics and Gavin is an absolute genius with the melodies.

      With qualifications coming out of her ears, Sara is also a member of the Society of Authors, the National Union of Journalists, the Poetry Society, the Royal society of Literature and Women Writers' Network.

      Gavin has been a professional musician since he was a whippersnapper at the age of 11, so he's well qualified and the music in their collaborations proves it. His main passion is music in education and using music as a confidence builder in all children, enabling them to work together as a team to produce something worthwhile.

      For anyone who's a Primary Teacher, especially in Year 6, this production is absolutely spot on for two reasons;

      Firstly it fulfils most of the objectives in the National Curriculum history unit 14: Who were the Ancient Greeks? but in such a lively, memorable way even you will be singing the tunes in the shower and secondly because if introduced immediately after SATs in May, the kids don't realise they're about to leave primary school, they are so engaged in the whole thing, the days and weeks roll by and the 'I don't have to do nowt now' mentality never sets in! It is a true lifesaver for Year 6 teachers for the summer term.

      Having said that, it could be used anywhere, not just in school.

      So, what's in it?
      The musical is made up of three fabulously funny acts.

      Act 1 Thoughts and Theories
      Act 2 Myths and Legends, Heroes and Heroines
      Act 3 Stories of the Gods

      You don't have to all of the 10 minute acts. Each one starts and ends with the 'Sing it and Say it' theme tune which is a rousing starter and in it's finale version an even better ending. It's immediately appealing and gets the show on the road perfectly.

      Act 1 Thoughts and Theories
      This act is all about the daily life of people in the agora, or market place, with a trio of famous thinkers who pop in to say hello. In this act the ensemble get to grips with the Greek alphabet, and I never thought I'd say it, but when University Challenge is on and Jeremy Paxman says "What's the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet?" My class would all be screaming at the screen, as the clever ones from Downing confer, "Lambda, woolly fellow" because the song is so very memorable.

      The three thinkers are Archimedes, in his bathrobe accompanied by his sister ( usually a boy in our case), Pythagoras clutching his little abacus, surrounded by circles, squares, pyramids and cubes ( only year sixes want to sing 'pubes' for some galling reason) and Socrates with a dimwit kid who mistakes an idea for a deer, quite hilarious from the audience's viewpoint.

      We are taught about displacement, which can then be tested in a science lesson, the rules of right angled triangles which can be drawn, cut out and measured in a maths lesson and finally having ideas and opinions which can be discussed in a class debate in philosophy sessions - yes, primary schools do cover some elements of the subject believe it or not!

      Act 2 Myths and Legends, Heroes and Heroines
      The second act introduces the children to a doomed Hyacinthus and her dreamboat Apollo stalked by the evil Zephyrus ( the Greek god/spirit of the west wind).

      Icarus is introduced next, along with Daedalus (his dad), Minos (King of Crete), Ariadne (his daughter) Theseus and the Minotaur. It's a brilliantly written song with each member having to work with everyone else in order to 'pull it off'.

      After a quick scene change, we meet the vampish Medusa and her gorgeous sisters (again played by boys) who are having extreme difficulty in finding boyfriends. This scene is incredibly funny and one of the highlights of the whole performance.

      Finally we have a song about the constellation Pegasus: a fitting finish to the second act before moving on to the all action final section of the production.

      Act 3 Stories of the Gods
      This act is set primarily in the studios of Olympus News, the TV News programme of the year at the time no doubt. The programme introduces what's been happening to "All the Gods of Ancient Greece, their comedies and tragedies".

      We start off at the Apollo ballroom where Paris, Prince of Troy has to choose one of three stunning goddesses to win the golden apple, but unfortunately this gentile scene is interrupted by sudden 'Newsflashes'.

      The Newsflashes are firstly the story of the Typhon - who's eating maidens hand over fist, but who is conquered by the mighty Zeus, King of the gods, looking remarkably like Elvis, to be honest.

      The second is the sad story of Persephone, who's been captured by Hades and is being forced to dance at his entertainment establishment, The Underworld nightclub. Here Costas the roving reporter interviews Demeter (Persephone's mother) who tells her tale of woe, just before Elvis.... Sorry, Zeus returns to save the day.

      Thankfully, amidst all this news chaos, the beauty contest finally comes to a successful conclusion and Paris chooses Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and lurve. (She promised him Helen of Sparta by the way, that's how he made his decision!)

      The final lines of the performance are "And so the Trojan war began, but that's another story"

      I have to say that in all my years of primary teaching (that's 22) I've never quite enjoyed a musical performance so much. The beauty of Sing it and Say it is that every child in the ensemble - and we're a two class year group - can have a part. There are fabulous opportunities for teaching the complexities of music such as four part harmonies and also chances for the children to show off their talents in solo roles.

      There are masses of creative opportunities in the production too. We have two sets of children performing gymnastic/dance routines to two of the songs and they have had to put hours of effort into choreographing these themselves.

      Not only is the production fabulous (dahling) for all the singers and dancers, but there are vast opportunities for set, costume and programme design too. We produce invitations for parents and other classes to come and watch us in school and the children also create the slide show that provides the scenery on the massive screen behind them.

      We invite the local paper for photographs and write letters to some local dignitaries to also attend, so you could say that this is far more than a musical event. It really brings the class together to achieve something that is staggeringly successful.

      Having said all that, one downside is the fact that you really need a very proficient pianist. I'm taking Grade 5 currently and cannot play these pieces. Thankfully, we are blessed with four Grade 8+ teacher-pianists at our school so we have been able to rehearse as much as we need to whenever we need to.

      All of the ideas I've talked about are given explicitly in the book. Everything is included: lyrics for children to learn, manuscript for the pianist and oodles and oodles of thrilling ideas for teachers to develop if they want to. Of course you can always add your own ideas to it too. There's nothing saying it must be done this way, or that!

      Sara Ridgley and Gavin Mole have also written other Sing it and Say it productions for Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, France, Asia and Festivals. The Egyptian one is also fantastic as I've done this with Year 4, I have two of the other books, but haven't tried them out yet.

      A link to their publications is:http://www.music-at-school.co.uk/
      Details for this book:

      Sing It and Say It (Can Anyone Play It?) - A Bookful of Ancient Greece
      3999A £7.99
      ISBN: 1-85909-389-2

      Book & Tape Pack
      6754A £12.99


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