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Friday, May 9, 2014

Maestro Classics Review #hsreviews

Maestro Classics Review
Music is a big part of our household. My girls play several instruments and they like to listen to music and audio cds while we they are doing their chores or in the car while running errands. The last couple of months we have been listening to Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel and The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics is classical music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra mixed with a story. Bonnie & Stephen Simon are musicians and they wanted to help parents and children better understand and enjoy symphonic music at home, so they started Maestro Classics.  
Maestro Classics Review\
Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel uses the this story of friendship and puts it together with the orchestra and bagpipes. It is recommended for the entire family including children as young as 4 years old. It is available on CD for $16.98 or as an MP3 download $9.98.

We received the CD for this story and there are 7 sections lasting 51:14 minutes & a 24 page activity booklet. 
  1. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel ~ The story of Mike Mulligan is told as we hear classic music and bagpipes to make the story come alive.
  2. About the Author~ Here we are told about Virginia Lee Burton who is the author of Mike Mulligan. We learn some history about it and the reason Steven Simon wrote the music for this story is because he loved the story as a child and continued to read it to his children.
  3. Mike Mulligan Song 
  4. About the Music ~ Steven Simon is the composer & conductor of this music and we get to hear him tell us a little bit about writing music for a book and instruments he included. We hear individual instruments and Simon explains about musical quotations. We also learned that he used other equipment to create sound effects in his music.
  5. Now That You Know a Little More~ We hear the story to listen for the different instruments.
  6. Want to Have Some Fun? Prepare to Perform~ Kids get to sing along with the song. We are told what page in the booklet contains the words to the song when we should start singing. 
  7. Mike Mulligan Song-Sing Along~ We sing along with the song.
The 24 page booklet is small enough to fit inside the CD case and is full of information and activities. There is information about the Conductor/Composer, the characters, narrator, and bagpipes. There is a musical code, crossword puzzles, dot-to-dot, word find, and the words and music for the Mike Mulligan Song are also included.  

Maestro Classics Review
We also received The Sorcerer's Apprentice CD. This story is recommended for children ages 6-up. The CD with booklet is available for $16.98 or the MP3 download for $9.98. There are 7 titles lasting 41:25 minutes.   
  1. The Sorcerer's Apprentice~ This story is told with classical music intermingled. 
  2. About the Story ~We get to hear some interesting facts about the story & how it became known as one of the best pieces of classical music. We get to hear some history about this story and how it became a Disney favorite.
  3. March of the Brooms~We hear just this musical piece. 
  4. About the Music ~ Steven Simon is the conductor of this CD and he tells us about the composer, Paul Dukas, and his music. 
  5. The Sorcerer's Apprentice ~ Here we get to hear the original version.
  6. Prepare to Perform ~ We are given instructions on playing pots & pans along with the March of Brooms. 
  7. Play-Along for Kitchen Percussion ~ Here is where we get to play along. 
In this 24 page booklet we learn about the history of the original story, the instruments in an orchestra, different types of mallets, and about the Drum & Bugle Corps.  Information about the conductor/arranger, producer, and narrator along with puzzles and the music for the March of Brooms and the rhythm used for the kitchen percussion.

We received our new CD the day before we left on a trip, so the first time we listened to the stories was as a family in the car. They really make the time go by faster while we were driving because they kept everyone occupied. It wasn't long and the girls were continually singing the Mike Mulligan Song. 

The music that is included is very simple. All three of my girls could play them on the piano, but they have taken piano lessons for several years. They all agree that their favorite story is Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel, but they thought the history behind The Sorcerer's Apprentice was very interesting. They like to listen to the music and pick out the different instruments they hear. 

We also own The Story of Swan Lake and Peter and the Wolf. The younger girls enjoy these CDs for the enjoyment of the songs and stories. Amber (age 13) and I enjoy them for the quality music and the educational content. Amber loves music and she really enjoys learning about composers. After listening to these CDs she likes to look up more information about the story, songs, and composers.

There are currently 11 titles available from Maestro Classics and they make a great addition to any home whether you use them for educational purposes or for just shear enjoyment. The Review Crew received several different selections and you can read those on the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog. 
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