Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sing, Sing a Song...: Peter Yarrow Song Book: Songs for Little Folks

Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame, has remained true to the work of handing down America's traditional music to succeeding generations. His fourth Songbook, The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Songs for Little Folks (Sterling) is dedicated to his own granddaughter Valentine, as he says, "who one day might sing these same songs to her daughter--what a lovely thought!"

In this volume, Yarrow's focus is on songs for the very young, including such stalwarts as "Polly Wolly Doodle," "Old MacDonald," "This Old Man," "Lavender Blue," and "Pop Goes the Weasel." "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" offers the opportunity to teach preschoolers that precursor to harmony, the round, and "The Green Grass Grows All Around," which gives youngsters an experience with the cumulative verse form and the chance to join in with lines repeated over and over. Yarrow slips a few sly updates into the traditional lyrics, as in one line in "This Old Man:"

This old man, he played five.
He played folk and jazz and jive.

In addition to the twelve familiar songs, Yarrow's text includes the complete lyrics, with many verses, guitar chord charts by name and diagram, historical notes on the origin of each song, and if you're not practiced in musical skills, there is an enclosed CD with the songs performed by Yarrow and his own daughter Bethany, mother of the aforementioned Valentine. Illustrations by Terry Weaver add to the general attractiveness of this well-designed songbook.

The research of current brain science has pointed to the very significant importance of music to the development of the young mind, and Yarrow's song books are a great tool in introducing music and language skills to the preschool mind in its most adaptable stage. Other musical books by Yarrow include The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Sleepytime Songs, and The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Favorite Folk Songs, The Peter Yarrow Sing-Along Special, Day Is Done (Peter Yarrow Songbook). and the classic Puff, the Magic Dragon.

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