CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 21 . . . . June 22, 2001
Skiffle, jug and spaz are all names for a style of music that uses homemade instruments and simple rhythms. In the early 1900's, skiffle bands played African-American blues and ragtime music. During the Depression, sometimes people had "skiffle parties" to raise money to pay the rent. In New Orleans, these bands were called spaz or spasm bands. In other areas they were called jug or jook bands because the jug was one of the main instruments. By the late 1950s, skiffle bands were playing pop songs on a guitar, washboard and tea-chest bass. Even the Beatles started out as a skiffle band.The reading level listed for this book may be for children 8 years of age and up, but this is a book that can be used by parents, teachers and children for children of all ages, from tot to teen. It's 208 pages all about making music in as many ways as can be made, and music appeals to everyone at all stages of life. Everything about this book is fun and generates activity. Best of all, it encourages the making of music from everyday items (kazoos from combs, water-bottle fiddles, etc.). It finds rhythm in the drudgery of housework. "Haul Away, Joe" is rewritten to today's task of hauling out the garbage, or worse, laundry from a teenager's room. And of course, hands can be clapped and fingers can be snapped in more ways than you imagined: "Combine foot stomping with finger snapping, or knee knocking with head popping. How many different ways can you make up a cool body jive? Try some rhythms with this four-beat jive combo." (p.114)
Parents can teach their young children co-ordination, rhythm and classic songs using this book. It can also serve as a craft book for a parent/child activity, and young children can make their own musical instruments following the very clear instructions which are aided by cute cartoonish illustrations that show clearly what to do. Author Deborah Dunleavy offers kids many easy-to-accomplish ideas, from making their own instruments to making their own bands. She includes rhythmical and musical scores with appropriate explanations. An added bonus is the inclusion of instruments and music from all over the world. Anyone can learn the basic elements of instruments, rhythm and vocals with correct terminology. Interesting tidbits of information accompany the building and music-making instructions. Music teachers will find it a positive supplement to their programs, and classroom teachers can use it for fun activities as well as an adjunct to a poetry unit. An index of songs, glossary of musical terms, picture chart of guitar chords and an index round out the book. The only weakness of this soft-cover book is that it is printed on low-quality paper that may show wear more quickly than expected; however, that same fact also keeps the price down and makes it accessible to families as well as schools. Used to its fullest extent, this book should be well-thumbed.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.