Thursday, May 8, 2014

A TOS Review: Maestro Classics

I have expressed my love for Classical Music. It ranks right up there with chocolate.
I have always loved this particular genre of music. Even as a little girl I would listen to some sweeping epic piece and imagine myself in a wilderness castle surrounded by dragons and orgres…armed only with my wits. I still play it for mood music. There is something about vacuuming to Beethoven’s 5th. It seems to make even the most mundane chores grand and meaningful. 

It’s my opinion that in our modern day hustle and bustle Music and Art Education gets thrown over. I’ve tried to expose Josiah to those beautiful works. However, it is hard to fit quality Music Appreciation in when you are trying to just get through the basics; let alone with Swim team practice, a reading Club and dinner. 

I was downright giddy when I received the opportunity to two CD’s from Maestro Classics. They are the producers of Stories in Music.  We got to enjoy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Casey at the Bat.

Maestro Classics is unique in that it takes a poem or story and sets it to music. Not only do we get to enjoy beautiful compositions played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but there is a delightful and exciting story to appreciate as well. They come in CD or an MP3 format. Each comes with a small book that contains more information about the piece, for example, more about the composer, music terminology, instruments and more.  There is also a small game or activity to enjoy as well.

Because I reviewed 2 CD’s I will talk about one at a time.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice begins with the narration of the story along with the music.  It is exciting and well-narrated. Most of us are familiar with Disney’s Fantasia. We grew up with Mickey Mouse casting a spell to assist him with chores. Poor Mickey. I could have told him it wouldn’t work.
In this 7 track CD, we learn that the musical score was written by Dukas. We were fascinated to learn that Dukas was so hard on himself that he burned most of his compositions. The poem itself has a long history and has evolved over the years. 

The Conductor teaches us how to listen for tempo, etc. We are encouraged to really listen to the music. Both Josiah and I learned a lot. This CD is almost 42 minutes long. Not only do we get to listen to the music without narration, but there is a kitchen percussion play-along segment. Josiah is all about the percussion.    This was right up his alley.

Casey at the Bat is another fun one. I have heard this classic poem a number of times (because I’m old). It is set to an original composition by Stephen Simon (who is also the conductor).  
This CD also gave us background information about the poem (which was written in 1888) and its author. I really had no idea it written by Ernst Lawrence Thayer who was, in fact, a humor columnist at the time. This poem (I won’t give away the ending if you haven’t heard it) has a twist. After listening to it the first time Josiah turned to me and said, “What just happened?!”

We also learn through the course of the lesson how composters use music to tell a story without words. There was also a lesson using In a Cabin in a Wood. Another fun track was when we got to hear the piece played by a young group of violinist in the Suzuki method. I used to sing In a Cabin in a Wood to Josiah when he was a little. He remembered it! 

This CD also comes with an activity booklet. 

Maestro Classics are intended for a variety of ages. On the website The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is recommended for ages 6+.   I am much older than 6 (a-hem) and absolutely loved them. I also think that even the littles in your life will enjoy these. Casey at the Bat is recommended for all ages.
Maestro’s Classics‘ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Casey at the Bat are both available for $16.98 on CD, or $9.99 for MP3. Don’t think that these products are just for homeschoolers. Any music lover, music teacher or parent will enjoy having these in their musical library.

I personally loved watching Josiah enjoy both works. We would listen to them mostly while driving. Whenever we would get in the car Josiah would say, “Don’t forget to put in our CDs!” I knew what he was talking about. Occasionally I would take a peek at his face (when my own imagination wasn’t being caught up in dancing brooms and a summer afternoon at the Ball Park). He was always engaged and captivated. Tapping his hand or foot in time to the music. 

Josiah has appointed Maestro Classics as some of his most favorite review items. And I would have to agree. They are excellently produced and executed. They will be enjoyed time and time again.

You can connect with Maestro Classics on the following social media sites. Click the banner below to read more reviews. 

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