When I started my after school Kodály classes several years ago, I was looking for material that was suitable for older children who still needed to start from the beginning with s m and ta ti ti, but who would probably be reluctant to sing Here Sits a Mousie and Snail Snail.
I found the answer in “Go For Bronze” by Christopher Bell, Artistic Director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and Lucinda Geoghegan, familiar to anyone who has attended a BKA Summer School in recent years or one of her early years weekends.
“Go For Bronze” is suitable for children of eight and over. There is a Teacher Book and two Pupil Books. Don’t be fooled into thinking you won’t need the Teacher Book! The Teacher Book is absolutely essential, as it provides instructions for all the games, explanations of how to introduce concepts and – most importantly – supplementary activities that expand on each topic.
It is suggested that some time is given before starting Book 1 in preparing the students unconsciously for each concept. Personally I don’t start the book until the children can keep a steady beat, understand the difference between beat and rhythm and can sing s m ; l s m and m r d songs in tune.
Although each double page is set out as a single lesson, the intention is not to just plough through each topic week after week for, as stated in the Teacher’s Book: “The most important thing to remember is that the pupils should fully understand one concept before moving onto the next.”
I took two years to complete Book 1, and used material from other publications such as “Singing Games and Rhymes for Middle Years” (also by Lucinda) and “Growing With Music” Key Stage One by Michael Stocks and Andrew Maddocks, for additional material that reinforced each concept. I was quite nervous moving on to Book 2 with the introduction to la pentatonic, but my students ‘got it’ straight away, which proved to me that Book 1 had really worked!
I did wonder about the decision to work solely in the pentatonic in both “Go For Bronze” Books 1 and 2 but it was definitely the right decision. Quite complex rhythmic skills are developed in Book 2 as well as introducing la pentatonic, so it would definitely be too much to include the diatonic scale as well.
(“Go For Silver” is now also available and incorporates the diatonic scale, 6/8 time, using absolute notes etc. It looks very exciting but we haven’t got that far yet!)
The strength of “Go For Bronze” lies in the motivational games that reinforce each concept, and which incorporate coordination activities that move from the very simple to the more challenging. My students absolutely love them and don’t realise how much they are learning as they play.
There are also many suggested activities for developing inner hearing and the sight singing exercises are excellent. Some two part exercises are given in Book 1 and this is expanded upon in Book 2.
I couldn’t recommend “Go For Bronze” more highly. My students are totally motivated, love their workbooks, regularly ask to play various games and their musicianship is amazing! For me as a teacher I am just over the moon to have such high quality material at hand.