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Book Review – “Listen & Celebrate” by Nate Holder and Helen MacGregor

Nate and Helen’s new book cover

If you are looking to decolonize your music room or provide a richer musical experience for your learners, “Listen & Celebrate: Activities to Enrich and Diversify Primary Music” by Nathan Holder and Helen MacGregor is a must-have. The days where learners study the “great classical composers” as the default or model for all musics around the world are becoming numbered. This book touts the ability of anyone being able to compose music and that compositions are not as difficult or grand as they once were thought to be. Composing is not just for “the greats,” anyone can be a composer, and the best part is, they don’t need to be written down! This book makes composing accessible even for the most inexperienced educators or the most reluctant learners.

Holder and MacGregor showcase a diverse set of composers and music makers from various walks of life and from various parts of the world (and most importantly, many of them are still alive!). Each featured artist is presented as an immersive lesson that has students composing their own music on every single page. There are also assessment and instruction suggestions for Key Stage 1 and 2 (K – 6) for each lesson. In addition to the featured musicians and styles throughout this book, there are other listening examples and further exploration suggestions that are just as diverse and unique. This is a major strength of this book along with its clear effort to avoid a heavy reliance on European staff notation which has, over time, become ubiquitous with music teaching and music education in the Western world. The authors seem keenly aware that there are many ways to notate music that do not involve a reliance on staff notation, and instead the authors rely on an array of diverse graphical scores that are very clearly laid out. This, of course, is a much more authentic way to represent music from various cultures, many of which do not rely on European staff notation.

In the end, this book should be in steady use by every Primary or Kindergarten to Grade 6 music teacher and their respective teacher trainers.

Take a look at this book, here!

Until next time, Happy Musicking!

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