Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Maestro Classics {Schoolhouse Review}

I am always wanting to include more music education into our homeschool, but it is one area where I don't have much experience or knowledge, so I've never really made the leap.  I have read the praises of Maestro Classics, so I was absolutely thrilled to be given the chance to review two of their titles.  We recently received My Name is Handel:  The Story of Water Music as well as The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

What is Maestro Classics?
Maestro Classics is a beautiful introduction to classical music that combines entertainment and education.  Aimed at children 5-12, the Stories in Music series is family friendly and appropriate for all ages.  The music is recorded by the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra and the engaging narrations bring the stories behind the music to life!  Each CD also includes a booklet with ideas and activities to expand the learning, and the website includes free Homeschool and Music Curriculum Guide which is FULL of ideas for every subject, so there is even more educational value right at your fingertips.

My Name is Handel:  The Story of Water Music
Running Time:  48:45

If you enjoy composer studies, I highly recommend using this when you study Handel.  This production perfectly combines narrative about Handel's life and the background of his music, with his actual compositions.  We learned mostly about Water Music, but also some general information about Handel's works.  The narrative was a little long in some areas and I was worried I'd lose the boys, but we listened to this in the car, where I have a captive audience, and when I paused it, I was immediately accosted to turn it back on!  I felt like it was a good introduction to Handel for beginners.  It would also be a great addition to history, if you're studying this time period.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Running Time:  41:25

I'll just go ahead and tell you this was my boys' favorite of the two.  The Sorcerer's Apprentice was written as a story in ancient Rome times, rewritten as a poem, then Paul Dukas composed his famous piece of music that was inspired by the poem.  What has kept this story popular for so long?  Well, as you might already know, or you will learn from the CD itself, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is included on Disney Fantasia, with Mickey Mouse appearing as the naughty Apprentice.  The succession of this story through time, is a great lesson not only on the morals associated with sorcery, but also on how art inspires art.  Of course, after we listened to this one, I had Fantasia waiting for the boys.  They were thrilled to recognize the music, and it also exposed them to even more classical music!

Our Thoughts
We loved these, plain and simple!  In fact, I've already ordered Peter and the Wolf to add to our repertoire.  They combine storytelling and music into a fabulous piece of fine arts for young children.  Although, they are interesting and delightful for adults as well.  Ask me how I know!

I love that we are not just listening to music, but the narratives introduce us to the composers, the history of the music and the time period in which it was created, facts about music composition and instruments, and so much more.  For the price of $16.98 (or $9.98 digital) you get a lot of entertainment and education packed into one production!  These have long-term value in our family as well, due to the wide age range and the fact that I have younger children who can enjoy these for a long time to come!

We listened to these purely for enjoyment, because that's our style, but with the educational materials available, you could easily rabbit trail into interesting topics or create in-depth unit studies around these titles.  Even if you do nothing but listen to the titles simply for pleasure, it is great exposure to the orchestra and classical music.  Again, I'm not a "music" person, but I am in love with these, and I already want every title!

More Information
Get to know the major players Stephen Simon, Bonnie Simon and narrator Yadu, through their biographies.  You can find Maestro Classics on Facebook and Pinterest, but the Crew has also reviewed Casey at the Bat and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and I imagine they are as equally fun and fabulous as the two I just shared, so be sure to check out all of the reviews


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