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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Maestro Classics: A Review

Have you ever heard of Maestro Classics?

Photobucket Maestro Classics is a collection of CD's that introduce children to classical music through stories. Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the CD's are entertaining and educational.

I am always looking for ways to enrich the kids learning so I was happy to receive The Story of Swan Lake in the mail to review. The Story of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s greatest ballet score, is the tale of a prince who falls in love with a beautiful princess. The princess, however, has been turned into a swan by an evil magician, and only the prince’s love can break the spell.

Photobucket The music along with the narration is beautiful and the kids enjoyed listening to it, but what made this CD even more fantastic were the additional treasures on the CD, the booklet that accompanied it and the website with access to wonderful resources.

There was something for all of my kids:

The most obvious was the opportunity for Eden (age 4) to dance. She is currently in her first year of ballet (really pre- ballet) and she loves to twirl and pliƩ to the music.

One of the tracks on the CD is a modernized version of Swan Lake with an electric guitar which Eli (age 6) our aspiring rockstar, loved.

Micaiah (age 8) enjoyed hearing and reading about the life of Tchaikovsky which was highlighted in the  24-page activity book included with the CD.  The book also contains information on acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music and words for a sing-along song, explanation of major and minor keys, puzzles and more.

And finally, since music is great for brain development it is perfect for Marcus (18 months) who had no choice but to listen as most of our listening time was in the car  ("carschooling" is the best!)

One of the resources that I explored but only scratched the surface of was the online curriculum guide.   The guides are designed to accompany the Maestro Classics CDs and cover topics in history, science, geography, language arts, music, art and math. The website provides links to many valuable resources.  After we listened to the CD a couple of times, I used ideas from the guide to teach the kids about Russia (the home of Tchaikovsky),  we watched a science video clip about air pressure and a bird's ability to fly, we learned about the history of the crossbow and how it works (another one of Micaiah's favourites) and watched how to make an origami swan... which we still need to try ourselves along with many other great ideas.  We could have done a week or two long unit study based on this CD and one day maybe we will.

The company has many other titles that I am definitely going to add to our homeschool wish list including:

  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • Tortoise and the Hare
  • Juanita the Spanish Lobster (available in English and Spanish)
  • Casey at the Bat
  • Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • My Name is Handel:The Story of Water Music
  • The Soldier's Tale

The CD's are geared toward 5 to 12 year olds and are about $17 per CD or $10 for a MP3 download.  They are also available as bundled packs.  I would love to collect all of them(... just throwing a hint out to anyone who cares!!)

Go on and check it out for yourself or click here to see what others are saying.

Disclaimer:  As a reviewer for the TOS crew, I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest (favourable or otherwise) review.

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