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Bug, Better, Beast.     All 5 songs: 20'31"
Environmental Animal Songs for Children’s Choir/Chorus with piano or CD accompaniment.

“This will work.”
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Environmental Animal Songs for Children’s Choir/Chorus

"We were around before the dinosaurs and now we're everywhere - we adapt to changes in the environment."

"For millions of years WE ran things but size isn't everything - we were wiped out by changes in the environment. "

"We remember the dinosaurs too...Oh! Children! Delicious and I can manage a whole one - we thrive in our environment."

"Please let some of us live wild and free - we are losing our environment."

" WE run things now - what are we going to do with the environment?”

General Information

It’s got disgusting things! It’s got danger! It’s got dinosaurs! Naturally children love it.

These five environmental animal songs for children’s choir/chorus and piano (or CD accompaniment) are great fun. Half the children get to be the mega-successful cockroaches. The other half play humans(!) who are mega-disgusted by them. Later the children playing humans get to be sharks that catch and eat one of the other lot – now playing humans.

The overall theme is: What in the environment makes each animal a success or a failure?
The last song is about us humans; it asks are we a success or not. It invites the children to think about what they will choose to do with their world.

They are easy to learn and very practical but unlike anything done before.

They were written for children at grade school aged approximately nine to thirteen.

It’s easy because

Exciting, new AND easy?! How?

It’s all echoes!

Tiny phrases, and I mean tiny- only two or three notes – are played on the piano and immediately repeated by the choir/chorus.

Easy to learn

Always repeating what they have just heard makes it instantly easy to pick up changes of rhythm and pitch so children can easily perform music that is rhythmically and melodically more varied than they could normally tackle.

The children get the idea very quickly and it does not take a lot of rehearsal to get them singing accurately. In a way the piece is built out of the way you teach children--You play it; they sing it. You play it; they sing it. This is how children learn and that is the technical inspiration behind the piece.

The songs always use this echo technique except for a round which has the same tune in all the songs. The choir/chorus can sing the round as a single unison tune as an easier option if desired.

Easy to memorise

Each tiny phrase is a sung copy of what the piano has just played so it is natural for the conductor to mouth the words with each piano cue and then again with the choir/chorus. With this constant prompting immediately before they sing every few works memorising becomes easy. Singing from memory makes the performance much more vivid.

The music looks scarily hard compared to most children’s music but it is not. It is easy and sounds very impressive.

Exact Forces and Timings

A children’s choir/chorus big enough to split into two groups, approximately fifteen children in each group.

The five songs’ timings and how the choir/chorus is used:


Bug Hurray for the Cockroach   4’56” two groups singing in dialogue


Big The Terrible Lizards   5’16” all singing in unison


Better Ready for my Teeth?   3’55” two groups singing in dialogue


Beast This Cat is Supreme   2’55” all singing in unison


Best? This is My World   3’17” two groups singing in dialogue

Bug, Better, Beast was written for children at grade school aged nine to thirteen.

Score Extract and Listen

Click to read and listen to extracts





A page at a glance:

Environmental Animal Songs for Children’s Choir/Chorus

The CD

Bug, Better, Beast comes with a CD.

Tracks for performing:

A piano solo track for each song.

Tracks for practicing:

• “Sung cues” - the tiny piano cues are sung by a female voice, the children then sing along with a male voice repeating what they have just heard.

Click to listen to CD "sung cues" extract with score

CD - Dinosaurs I

• “Sung as written” - the piano plays the cue and both voices sing along with the children.

Click to listen to CD "sung as written" extract with score

CD - Dinosaurs II
• There are several tracks for learning each round.

Click for full CD track list.

Teachers’ notes

Full rehearsing and conducting advice - please click here.

The text

The challenge with this text was to create lines that flow naturally in English despite always being interrupted by the piano cues after every few syllables.

The words were written by David Ashurst


Environmental Animal Songs for Children’s Choir/Chorus
A tiger flanked by two cockroaches.

Environmental Animal Songs for Children’s Choir/Chorus
The whole choir/chorus.

First performance

Bug, Better, Beast was Premiered at The Purcell Room in London’s South Bank Centre in 2001 by Camden Junior School, Carshalton, London UK. It was created for the SPNM as part of C4K (Composing for Kids) with support from the Musicians Benevolent Fund administering the Alan Fluck Memorial Fund.


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