Out of the Ark Music

OMG!!! Under new government rules, primary pupils will only get credit for using exclamation marks in sentences beginning with ‘what’ or ‘how’, which sort of puts the brakes on their enthusiasm. I’m struggling with this because I use the exclamation mark freely when excited. For example, I have two new resources from Out of the Ark music and I want to say that I think they are fabulous!! But now, I’m only allowed to say that I think they are fabulous. But hopefully, even without an exclamation mark or two, you will still appreciate my enthusiasm.

Songs for EVERY Growing School is a brand new collection of 15 refreshing and exciting tunes. Schools are all about development, so it makes perfect sense to use singing to celebrate growth, whether that’s in mind, health, community, bricks and mortar, life, love, celebration or gratitude. If you are looking for fun, tried-and-tested songs to teach and inspire, you are in the right place.

You get an Activity Songbook and an interactive Words on Screen CD ROM, which is fabulous. The Songbook is your source of inspiration, with imaginative ideas and curriculum links, and the songs form the basis for a whole host of activities. The book also includes a handy song information chart, giving you a spreadsheet-like overview of what each one is about, the intended age, subject links and musical style – as well as the vocal range, key, musical elements covered, activity ideas and inter-related dimensions. And, of course, it comes with lyrics and music (piano music score, melody and chords).

As mentioned, there are plenty of activity suggestions. Each song has teaching tips, a spotlight on the musical genre being covered, and a ‘write your own verse’ pupil worksheet – not to mention a ‘bright idea’ and ‘what’s achievable’ suggestion.

The Words on Screen CD ROM is a must as it allows you to display lyrics on any whiteboard, computer screen, TV or interactive touchscreen. The lyrics synchronise with the music as it plays, which makes it so much easier to learn. And all this costs £42.95 – now that’s worth getting.

Another resource from Out of the Ark is the wonderfully entertaining Mystery At Magpie Manor, a 60-minute musical gem just begging to be used as an end-of-term production. It’s set in the roaring twenties at Magpie Manor, a large house in a crumbling state where Lord and Lady Pica have to take drastic action to save their home. A plan is hatched between the family and the bank manager to sell off the family silver via auction. But at the auction things go pearshaped when the family heirloom disappears. Inspector Spectre is on the case with none other than Agatha Christie, who between them have to work out who is to blame, as everyone seems to have a motive. This is a lively production with eight fantastic songs, a very witty script and brilliant twist in the tale. There are 48 parts in total, so enough for a couple of classes, with 32 speaking parts and 16 non-speaking parts.

Mystery At Magpie Manor comes with a Teacher’s Book containing the music score and lyrics, a character list, ideas for costumes (such as flapper fashion) and props, and the full script with act-by-act stage directions. There are also choreography suggestions for a couple of the songs/dances. If you are looking to entertain with plenty of razzmatazz and humour then this show is the one to get, and you can do just that by buying the book, audio CD, Words on Screen CD ROM and instant performance licence, all for £59.75.

Our Verdict

Hitting the high notes

What I like about the Out of the Ark resources is that all the songs are teachable by anyone and everyone. So if you have zero prior knowledge of music education (which is 99 per cent of all primary teachers) you’re in safe hands. All the materials are here to give you confidence and inspire children. The vocal tracks in both resources are beautifully sung by children to an extremely high standard, and with professional backing tracks, so what you are getting is a high-quality production. Out of the Ark is one of primary education’s favourite creators of musical resources and with two new releases that deliver plenty of exclamation marks for their energy, creativity, high standards and fun, it is easy to see why.

Pie Corbett