This was another of my Mom’s tapes, which she would, I’m sure, have acquired in connection with her job as a music teacher. It’s the Atarah’s Band Kit audio cassette from 1978 – a lively and engaging educational product aimed squarely at kids.
Atarah Ben-Tovim had been a top-tier orchestral flautist for over a decade when she embarked upon the Atarah’s Band project in the mid 1970s, taking her knowledge, experience and enthusiasm directly to children, with a package clearly designed to demolish some barriers. The presentations bypass the tedious mathematical routine of notation and scales which would so often put kids off music, and approach the learning process from the top down. Create intrigue with a fun insight into how professional and popular music works, then there’s an impetus for a child to learn the tedious stuff. It sounds to me like that was the plan.
The overall compilation of sessions is primarily rooted in classical music, exploring the orchestral instruments and their various personalities, highlighting the (lighter) work of classical composers, etc. It’s interesting the way Atarah acknowledges that the kids may find some longer classical compositions (not featured on the tape) boring. Empathy was obviously a key ingredient in the development of these presentations. The tape also deals with the contemporary pop/rock music of the day. There’s even quite an unexpected look at the range of guitar effect pedals used in rock and pop – including distortion. A lot of old school music teachers at the time would probably have been horrified by that, but I’m sure it was this kind of attention-grabbing sequence which earned Atarah Ben-Tovim such major recognition in music education.
Recording quality on this vintage cassette is very impressive. Noise is exceptionally low for a 1970s tape, and there’s a really nice high frequency reproduction. An interesting find indeed – and pretty scarce these days, too, I’d imagine.