From “The Choral Journal” – November 1989
“Steps,” Darlene Lawrence, unison, keyboard. Gentry Publications, JG2071 (singer’s edition), JG0700 (director/accompanist edition).
“Steps” is an absolutely charming set of eight short pieces intended “to help the young singer identify intervals by sight, sound, and the way they ‘feel’,” vocal melodies for each piece are made up of a single interval, beginning with unison on “Notes” and proceeding in subsequent movements to seconds, thirds, etc. Both major and minor inflections appear in “Stepping Stones” (seconds, “Jazz Waltz” (thirds), “Love Song” (sixths), and “Leap Frog” (sevenths). “Hoedown,” composed of fifths, cleverly introduces tri-tones, and “Leap Frog” includes octaves. The last piece, “Finale,” gets in all of the intervals.
Fortunately the pieces are much more then pedagogical devices; they are artistically composed with imaginative variety in the moods and tempos that change with each piece and in the fresh and cheerful harmonies that color each movement. The accompaniments are easy and tastefully written. The vocal ranges are ideal for young singers – a top of e2 and a low of b with enough required in the higher pitches to ensure singing in head voice. The poems, by Ms. Lawrence, are appealing and appropriate. For example, fifths are related to a hoedown, a hornpipe, and an Indian dance, while the imagery of “shadows and misty nights, violins and colored lights” gently embellishes sixths.
This a welcome set for young singers of elementary or junior high school (or for those of any age who need to think about intervals). The songs are fun without being shallow, clever without being trite. Perceptive teachers will find these attractive pieces marvelous for teaching intervals and appealing as program material.
Please note that the singer’s edition contains only the tunes and words. You will need the director/accompanist edition to properly examine the set. A cassette (JGTC2090) is also available.