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THIS collection contains all the songs recommended for older children by the Board of Education in their Blue Book of Suggestions (1905): see Appendix VI., p. 131.
The accompaniments are of the simplest character, and are merely intended to suggest sufficient harmony to make clear the tonality of each song, and in some cases to reinforce the characteristic rhythm, without distracting the attention of the singers from the melody itself. English children may at first experience some difficulty in grasping the peculiar scales and intervals of Keltic tunes; but what Scotch, Welsh, and Irish children can sing naturally, English children can acquire, and the trouble involved will be amply repaid by the widening of their musical horizon, and by the more deeply poetical influence which Keltic music will exert upon the young mind.
It cannot be too strongly urged upon teachers that rhythm is the life-blood of Folk-songs, as it is of all the great literature of music which has sprung from the Folk-song. Rhythmical character will be found in more varied forms and in greater strength throughout the Keltic songs and the English songs of a date anterior to the Commonwealth ; probably because the characteristic old dance-measures were discouraged and well nigh exterminated in England after that date. The other parts of the United Kingdom have, however, continuously preserved them. All the greatest stores of foreign Folk-music, such as the Hungarian^ Bohemian, Russian, Tyrolese, etc., etc., owe their peculiar charm and vitality to their vaned .and 'powerful rhythms. British Folk-music is inferior to none of these, and possesses the additional advantage of having four treasure-houses to draw upon, and two distinct racial types.
The first thing "in music which appeals to the human being is Rhythm, and it is only by fostering and building upon this that a truly musical spirit can be infused into the nation. The children of to-day will be the men and women of to-morrow, and according to the training of its children, so will the power of the nation be.
Special attention should be directed to the fifth paragraph on page 71 of the Blue Book. It is precisely in the use of the best rhythmical tunes for marching and physical exercises that children will become most familiar with them, and will grow to realise that they are part of their language and their life.
Many of the poems in this book are in themselves fine literature. The lyrics of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Burns, Moore and others are to be found wedded to these airs. If children first learn the poem, it will not only increase their appreciation of poetry, but also help them to master the lilt and rhythm of the tune ; while clear enunciation of the words while singing (a vitally important point in their training) will come far more easily and naturally.
Marks of expression have been but sparingly inserted, as the various verses differ often largely in expression; and these, as well as some of the slight