Simon Mayor
& Hilary James,
Children's Favourites
(Acoustics, 2005)

The yellow label on the cover of Children's Favourites says it all: "Real Music -- Real Instruments." This is classy music in all senses for young people -- and not so young -- to gain an appreciation of good music as played without the aid of technological safety nets.

Simon Mayor and Hilary James are both accomplished musicians with numerous releases in the general field, but they also have a strong commitment to the musical education of children. Over 29 tracks, they use humour, familiarity and most of all musical ability to draw children into the world of sound. From this album, young people will be educated not only in music but in the topics of a wider world.

They open the proceedings with a wonderful little piece called "The Turkish Toetapper" before bringing us the humorous "The Snowman's Song." And they are off and running.

They use sketches to introduce some songs. These are genuinely funny pieces because as any parent can attest, you will not pawn a child off with less than quality material.

This duo does not dumb down the music. In here you will find classical music from Vivaldi given a new twist alongside traditional tunes refreshed to appeal to modern youth and fun songs like "A Flock of Pink Flamingoes."

Listening to this CD, one is struck by the universality of music, not just across borders but also between age groups and times. This may be called Children's Favourites, but I -- who am on the wrong side of teens -- thoroughly enjoyed listening to each and every track.

Do not leave this CD for the classroom. Buy a few copies as stocking fillers for Christmas, give it to children and adults but make sure to give one copy to yourself.

by Nicky Rossiter
21 January 2006

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