Review: resources

‘Beaming with Pleasure’
Practical activities integrating Soundbeam 2 into the Curriculum
(120 pages. £15.00 + p&p from The Soundbeam Project)

This attractive collection of stories, poems, chants and games with Soundbeam 2 ‘accompaniments’, presented here by Sue Beckett, Deputy Music Director, Southampton Music Services, is designed to enable teachers in the classroom to make links with the music curriculum, as well as with other curriculum areas, such as literacy.

Each of these 30 pieces – devised, written and arranged by Andrea Harding-Smith and Anna Thompsett - are based on the 30 factory-preset Soundbeam 2 Set-ups.

Most of these arrangements employ 2 Beams and 4 Switches – with just one or two using Beams but no Switches. There are various indications for modes of performance in the Beams – “Waggle hand in Beam “, “ Sweep, then chop”, “Fairly small wiggles” - and a simple code of graphic symbols for labelling the Switches to be used. These are printed in the appropriate sections of the text, with indications for pressing and releasing them.

The texts include English, Hebridean, Japanese and Arabian folk tales, children’s songs and rhyming games, as well as a good deal of original material.

Along with the Soundbeam directions for each piece, an indication of the relevant Key Stage and the ‘score’, there are imaginatively practical notes on ”Teaching Activities”, “Suggestions for use with younger children”, and “Suggestions for use with older children”

We tried out some of these pieces with groups of teachers on our two residential Soundability courses in 2002. They were a great success, and after the first trial run through, nearly everyone was keen to modify the timbre of their own part, which made for very effective, short learning curves in getting to know how to use Soundbeam’s controls!

You could use the pieces in this collection as models for inventing your own original Soundbeam accompaniments to stories, poems and songs of your own making or choosing. As Sue Beckett says in her introduction to this brilliantly useful and creatively encouraging book, “enabling a child to access music for the first time, or to make new steps as a composer or performer can be a more tangible reality through the use of Soundbeam”. Happy Beaming!