Maestro Classics CDs provide a unique way of introducing classical music to children by not only allowing them to listen to various pieces of classical music, but by also telling the story behind the music and its composer. Recently, my family and I have had the opportunity to review two of Maestro Classic‘s CDs: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music, and today I am pleased to tell you all about them.
About Our Selections
Each Maestro Classics selection comes with a CD and a full-color informational booklet to enhance the study of the musical composition. It contains biographical information on the composer, details about musical instruments used, short selections of sheet music, plus games and activities. Each piece of music featured on the CDs is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Simon.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (ages 6+ and families – $16.98 CD or $9.98 mp3) – this classic work by Paul Dukas was made famous by Mickey Mouse in the Disney movie Fantasia. The CD contains:
- Track 1: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – this is a narration of the story with the music played in the background.
- Track 2: About the Story – this gives the history of the story itself, from its Greek beginnings to its depiction in the movie Fantasia.
- Track 3: March of the Brooms – the short segment of the composition with which most people are familiar.
- Track 4: About the Music – the music is broken down into segments, as students are encouraged to focus on specific elements of the piece. Arrangement, speed, and tone, and their relation to the mood of the piece are all discussed.
- Track 5: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – this is the original version, minus the narration. (Students are encouraged to be attentive to the elements discussed in the previous track.)
- Track 6: Prepare to Perform – this encourages students to make their own musical instruments out of household items, and suggests rhythms to tap out as an accompaniment to the music.
- Track 7: Play-Along for Kitchen Percussion – little musicians can tap along as the music accompaniment plays.
*Total run time of the CD is 41 minutes, 24 seconds.
My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music (ages 5+ and families – $16.98 CD or $9.98 mp3) – the story of one of Handel’s best known works. The CD contains:
- Track 1: The Story of Water Music – this is a biography of Handel, and includes small segments of various works, including Water Music.
- Track 2: About Handel and the Story – this tells about the historical setting and story behind the composition of Water Music.
- Track 3: “My Name is Handel” Song – choral performance accompanying the horn pipe suite from Water Music.
- Track 4: About the Music with the Maestro – discusses orchestras of Handel’s time, instruments used, discusses musical form (structure of the piece) and explains types of musical compositions, such as the overtures, sonatas, concertos, and suites.
- Track 5: Prepare to Perform – prepares students for the sing-along of the following track.
- Track 6: “My Name is Handel” Sing-Along – students can sing along, with the piece, as the choir did on track 3.
*Total run time of the CD is 48 minutes, 45 seconds.
How We Used the Program
We are currently in the middle of a music appreciation course, so these CDs were excellent for further enrichment. We had not studied Dukas in our course yet, but my boys were already familiar with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice music. The main part of this CD is more of a story telling, so we used it more in that way, listening to it in place of our typical reading time. Of course, most reading times do not end with banging out rhythms on my pots and pans, but the boys definitely enjoyed that part of the CD. My older son (12) was a bit hesitant at first, and did consider some parts of this particular disk to be a bit “young” for him.
In contrast, the major part of the Handel CD was less of a story, and more of a biography. We had studied Handel already in our class, but this allowed us to go back and expand on our study, learning more about his life and works. We enjoyed the way the CD integrated pieces of music within the narration of Handel’s biography, eliminating our need to search out examples of his works on our own. Because this CD is more historical, with an especially long first track, I would not recommend this one as much for the younger crowd. Instead, I would think 8 or 9+ is a more appropriate age, unless there is a specific interest with a younger student.
Once we conclude our own separate music appreciation course, we definitely intend to revisit these CDs so that we can study more in-depth. The Maestro Classics website has links to their Educational Materials, which includes teaching guides, sheet music. activities, and even lesson plans for subjects such as math, science, history, geography, and more. These resources would make it simple and fun to use these CDs as a base for unit study style learning. We fully intend to utilize all of these fantastic materials in our future studies.
Our Final Opinion
As I have said, we enjoyed these CDs very much. I think that with all the different products offered by Maestro Classics, there is definitely something for everyone. I like the fact that we can sit and enjoy these CDs as a family, and that there is no prior musical or historical knowledge required. The CDs and accompanying booklets are fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend Maestro Classics not only to homeschoolers, but to all parents. I think they are an excellent resource for introducing children to classical music.
For more information, please check out the Maestro Classics website, or follow them on Facebook or Pinterest. Please also read the other Crew reviews for these, as well as other products, available from Maestro Classics!