Sunday, January 3, 2010

Maestro Classics~ Classical Music CD's for Children

After years of much research and study, I think that most educators are aware that there is much to be said for introducing children at a young age to classical music. Brain synapses and mathematics can only benefit.

From time immemorial it seems, music has also been paired with stories, to help to make them more memorable, and elevate the listener to a higher plane. In that vein, and with the belief that there is always room for something new, enter Maestro Classics.

The TOS Crew members each received a new CD of the story "The Tortoise and the Hare" by Maestro Classics, one of eight current titles in a series masterminded by Steven and Bonnie Ward Simon. The Simons are highly qualified to delight, entertain, and educate children and parents alike, with their expertise in Classical Music and education.

The CD comes complete with a musical selection (Either a traditional classical piece, or an original composition by Steven Simon) that accompanies a classic tale. There follows an discussion about the story and another brief treatise about the composition. This is reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts" at Carnegie Hall. They are actually outworkings of the "Concerts for Young People" at the Kennedy Center, which were founded by Bonnie Ward Simon.

The discussion of the music may help your children to listen more "discriminatingly" to the music that they hear, particularly music in the classical vein. They may also begin to wonder, ask questions, and even experiment with their own compositions, armed with the information that Mr. Simon gives them. His discourse is down to earth and interesting to listen to.

Included with the cd is a 24-page "program book", which effectively turns this package into a mini-unit lesson for all 3 types of learners. The booklet for "The Tortoise and the Hare" includes information on the instruments of the orchestra, notes and fractions, time signatures, a double page spread on Turtles & Tortoises, and Rabbits & Hares, a short but in-depth look at a featured instrument in the piece, the contrabasson. For the "hands-on" learners that like to do something while they listen, there is a dot-to-dot, a word jumble, and a crossword. The melody to a fun piece of music, "Pretzel Vendor of Paris" is also included.

I would say that Maestro Classics neatly fills the void between Baby Mozart and Classical Kids, and is best for children ages 4-10 or so. My children fall outside these ages, but can see my 2 year-old enjoying this in a couple of years. My 9 year old enjoyed the discussion on the music, and particularly the thought that a composer could include bits of other well-known pieces to help his musical picture, or landscape be more clear to the listener, but I really feel that he is on the upper end of "interest" for this particular series.

I recommend turning "The music is playing" button at the top of the page OFF, as it is annoyingly short and repetative, and instead, clicking on the individual titles to hear very nice samples of each portion of the CD's. The other titles currently available are:
The cost:
$16.98 for each individual title
There is currently a special rate of $45 for any three titles, using the coupon code MAESTRO45

Final analysis: This gets a thumbs up from mom, particularly if used as the springboard for a mini "Break-week" unit. Please, do listen to the samples yourself, and as always, check out my fellow TOS Crewmates reviews, to help you make the most sound decisions on where to spend your homeschool budget.


1 comment:

  1. Hi there!

    This is a belated thanks for the wonderful review of our Tortoise and the Hare CD. I just wanted to let you know that since you reviewed our CD we've made a Facebook page so that our fans can participate in monthly giveaways (we have a big one coming up for the full 8 CD set!) and get coupons. We'd love to invite you and your readers to join our page or check out our new free homeschool music curriculum guides and thanks again for the lovely review!

    Maestro Classics


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