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The charming and fascinating West Indian culture of the U.S. Virgin Islands is introduced by this collection of 60 native children's circle games, clap patterns, jump rope chants and songs, elimination games and jokes. The clearly written text represents the melodic and rhythmic transcription of the music, and includes rhythmic notation and pictures illustrating the described actions. Accompanying the written text is an authentic 35 minute original live sound field recording of the native children ages 4 through twelve. This beautifully designed "How To" book and cassette, containing step by step instructions on how to play along with each song, chant, and game is sure to charm not only children but adults as well. Further historical emphasis of West Indian Culture is afforded by the presentations of 81 earthy and brilliant native proverbs, written in dialect and handed down from the days of slavery on the sugarcane plantations, as well as, by the inclusion of maps, photographs, illustrations, and a 50 word Glossary of unfamiliar words and definitions translated into standard English. DOMINO is sure to stimulate interest in the colorful, heritage, and music of the West Indies, as well as a life long appreciation for world music and the diversity of out own American Culture.

The songs and games in this collection represent something much more that just the music and the words printed on the pages. These songs are the capture of living poetry. In the life of the children who sing and play, the songs are always changing, never static. A child arrives from another part of the island and adds another word, and an improvisation is born. Even though there is a basic core to each song which the people learn and memorize as part of their childhood, they also are free to improvise on the basic core, to add and subtract as they feel. And the song changes, from one year to the next, from one generation to the next. Recording the songs, being involved in the singing and the playing, is very exciting. It is the beginning of speech; it is the poetry of children. This is the culture of children. And it is a culture of which they are extremely proud.

The songs in this book may seem familiar and also appear to be similar to standard United States children's songs you hear in your playgrounds. But the way they are played - the motions and the rhythms - are unique!

The Oral Tradition



The New Cyber Playground

© 1997 by Karen Ellis, all rights reserved Written for the first online conference by the NEA, hosted by ARTSEDGE, on Music and Technology.

The playgrounds of the nation are now boundryless. We can share and compare the cultural connections and diversity of children's living playground poetry with the fabulous oral tradition of all of our ancestors. This is the method we all used to use before we knew how to read and write. You can help to create and capture our collective heritage. This is the first historic electronic online library of the National Children's Folksong Repository, by participating in the Interactive Folksong Reading Curriculum.

Teachers will put on another hat when they participate. Now you will act like an ethnomusicologist, collecting the authentic material from the children and preserving it. It must remain unchanged in the Oral Tradition to make it worthy of the archive and documented for history. I've heard that some of these songs have been passed down child to child over the centuries and have remained in tact for 500 years. But as you know when children move they take their material with them and like been pollinate new children -- so it is a living poetry.

Upon completing the Indigenous Folksong Reading Curriculum a thematic reading module, you and the other teachers involved will help each other to submit the material that has been gathered from your classroom to this site. You'll be able to see your name, the kids will see their name and work, Parents will see it if you link this to your schools web site, other teachers will see your work and be able to show it to their classrooms.

Everyone can share and compare!

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