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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Maestro Classics

Maestro Classics Review
Need a fun and easy way to add classical music to your homeschool day?  Maestro Classics  has wonderful music CDs to choose from for children and families.  We recently had an opportunity to review two of their titles, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
Maestro Classics Review
The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a story of a lazy apprentice who tries to perform a magic spell to do his chores and ends up falling asleep while the water continues to rise.  The apprentice does not know how to stop the spell and the master comes back to discover what he has done.  The music was written by Paul Dukas, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and narrated by Yadu.

There are seven tracks on the CD:
1. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
2. About the Story
3. The March of the Brooms
4. About the Music
5. The Sorcerer's Apprentice (original version)
6. Prepare to perform
7. Play-Along Kitchen Percussion

The total playing time for the entire CD is 41:24.  Included with the CD is a 24 page activity guide containing: the history of The Sorcerer's Apprentice instruments of the orchestra, a biography of Paul Dukas, music for March of the Brooms, information on mallet instruments and drum and bugle corps,biographies of the conductor, producer, and narrator, and activities such as a crossword mystery word game and dot to dot. The Sorcerer's Apprenctice is recommended for ages 6 and up and can be purchased for $16.98.  There is also an mP3 version available for $9.98 which comes with a PDF copy of the activity book.
Maestro Classics Review
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel brings to life Virginia Lee Burton's famous children's book about Mike Mulligan who did not want to give up his steam shovel Mary Anne when newer and faster equipment becomes available.  They travel together to do one more job and to show that Mary Anne is still worth something.  The music to go along with the story was written by Stephen Simon, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and narrated by Yadu.  There are 7 tracks on the CD:

1. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
2. About the Author
3. Mike Mulligan Song
4. About the Music
5. Now That You Know A Little More
6. Want to Have Some Fun? Prepare to Perform
7. Mike Mulligan Song-Sing Along

The total playing time for the CD is 51:14.  Included with the CD is a 24 page containing biographies, words to the sing along song, information on the uilleann pipes, and activities such as a crossword puzzle, code to crack, word search, and maze.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is recommended for ages 4 and up and can be purchased for $16.98.  There is an mP3 download available that can be purchased for $9.98 and includes a downloadable PDF activity guide.

Maestro Classics has a link to free curriculum guides for homeschoolers to use to integrate their CDs into other areas of their children's curriculum.

I reviewed Maestro Classics with my 3,5,7,8,10,12, and 16 year olds.  We listened to the CDs while traveling in the car and a rainy day that we did not have anything special planned.  We listened to the full CD's in one sitting (or car trip.)  

I chose the Sorcerer's Apprentice because my children have seen the part of it in a movie and I wanted them to learn more about the music itself.  Maestro Classics has a beautiful arrangement of this music both with and without the narration.  It also gives listeners information about the music and the composer and how the story eveolved over the years.  It also teaches the listener to listen a little deeper to the music.

I chose Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel because we adore the book.  We absolutely loved listening to the Maestro Classics CD!  My younger children were so cute too because they kept saying "I remember when this happened in the book."  Then we had to get the book and listen again while following along with the book.  The CD gives a lot of good background information about the author and the music.  

Maestro Classics CDs are something we like to listen to over and over again.  We love the little activity books that come with the CDs, although the children have a tendency to argue over who gets to do what activities.  We have loved every CD we have received from Maestro Classics and look forward to adding more to our collection.

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