University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Partnerships and collaborations in developing a collection of new songs for children

Partnerships and collaborations in developing a collection of new songs for children

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ann Waterman.

Peter has helped translate from Dutch 32 songs for children. The originals were written by Jeroen Schipper, who also composed the music. The lyrics are in contemporary idiom, and there is a basis for musical education built into the collection; genres include jazz, calypso, rock, blues and ballad. Kathleen van der Weerd, who is bilingual, is the third author involved in the project. The songs are expressions of every child’s concerns: going to the doctor and dentist, growing out of one’s clothes, getting shut out, bike riding, changing moods and emotions, listening to echoes. There are also fantasies: taking a dinosaur to school, having tea with an octopus under the sea, setting out alone on an adventure. In singing these songs there is plenty of scope for interaction: there are refrains, arguments, echoes – and opportunities for children to add their own ideas and verses. There is also potential for their use in the teaching of English as a foreign or second language. In this seminar, Peter will share aspects of the unique partnership and collaborative process involved in completing this project. Peter has postgraduate qualifications in education, linguistics, and an MA in Education Planning in Developing Countries. He worked for the British Council from 1966 to 1996, mostly in Africa. He co-authored Teaching Primary English, published by Longman. In retirement he has worked as a storyteller (he founded the Cambridge Storytellers) and as a puppeteer. Top Dog is his first publication as a songwriter. As well as playing some of the songs he will talk about the language considerations in writing lyrics for children, looking at matters of rhyme, rhythm, vocabulary and syntax, within the constraints of metrical form, and what is singable, and enjoyable. He believes strongly in the value of singing for social bonding – and for health generally! The need to promote the book and the songs has entailed research into the institutions supporting music in schools. Peter will outline the authors’ marketing strategy. Examples of the songs can be heard on the website:

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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