One of the places in our homeschool that we have been sorely lacking is composer study and music appreciation. I always mean to do talk about composers and play classical music for the children, but somehow it gets squeezed out by other subjects and when we get to the end of the year, I look back and we haven’t discussed a single composer. So, when I got the opportunity to review a couple of CDs from Maestro Classics, I was excited and I hoped that it would be an easy way to add some composer study into our home.
We received My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. These CDs are made to be used with children ages 5 and up and Maestro Classics sells the CDs for $16.98 each. You can also purchase MP3 download versions of the CDs for $9.98 each. We received physical copies of both CDs. I used these CDs with all four of my children, and their ages are 9, 7, 4, and 3.
We started with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The CD is about 40 minutes long, and has an accompanying 24 page pamphlet that contains a dot-to-dot, a crossword puzzle, a cryptogram code and some information to reinforce the information that is being taught in the CD.
If you listen to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice CD, this is what you’ll hear:
- The piece with the accompanying story narration
- A track that tells more about Dukas as a composer and more about where the story of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice originated
- A track highlighting the “March of the Brooms” and the percussion instruments used to play the march
- More about the actual techniques and instruments employed to create The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
- The piece without narration
- A preparation to create your own percussion performance of a section of the piece along with the actual music to play along
As you might can tell, this CD is jam-packed full of learning and it’s probably going to take you and your children a few times listening to the CD to absorb the information contained therein. While the children were learning the piece, I also couldn’t help but show them the Fantasia version of the piece that is so famous with Mickey Mouse. They loved that also, but kept coming back to the CD version for more listens so they could use their imagination.
Before I even knew what had happened one day, after listening to the CD, Rose went and got a ton of mason jars out of my mason jar box and began filling them with water. I saw her pull a wooden spoon out of the drawer, and I gave her my only instruction, “No. You’re going to want a metal spoon.” Then, I saw her create her own water xylophone as she hummed and tried to play along from the CD. She even adjusted her own water without any direction from me. If you’re having a hard time visualizing this project, you can find instructions for it on the Maestro Classics website.
This is a perfect project to go along with the “March of the Brooms” track of the CD.
There is just no way to convey how much all four of the children loved this CD. They would hum pieces of it while doing other schoolwork. They would play the CD while they were cleaning their rooms. Even my four year old would put a toy or one of our Easter buckets in each hand and tell me how he “was cleaning like a broom.” Maestro Classics recommends this CD for ages six and up, but my four year old got just as much out of it as the bigger kids.
They even made their own Sorcerer hats out of paper plates and construction paper and did sorcerer pretend play. They made illustrations, and Rose even made her own Sorcerer’s Apprentice book. They say that they eventually want to make a sorcerer’s hat shaped cake as well, but we haven’t gotten around to that.
The other CD we received was My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music. I had specifically wanted to use this Maestro Classic CD for learning more about the life of Handel because we had been reading a fictional book about Messiah. This CD is exactly the kind of full-fledged composer study that you’d expect it to be. This one is meant for ages five and up.
If listen to the CD, this is what it contains:
- The Story of Water Music and the Story of Handel’s life
- More about Handel and King George of England
- A “My Name is Handel” song to help you memorize the tune of the hornpipe movement of “Water Music”
- About the Music where you’ll learn many different terms for the types of music that Handel wrote as well as about the harpsichord and organ. I never understood concerto, opera, etc., but the CD describes the differences perfectly
- A prepare to sing-along and a sing along to the “My Name is Handel” tune
This CD is almost 50 minutes long and it also comes with a 24 page pamphlet to help aid learning. The pamphlet with this CD is not an activity book. Instead, it is some additional reading about Handel, the orchestra, the churches in England, parts of the orchestra in Handel’s day, and the words to “My Name is Handel.”
This one didn’t capture the creative impulses of the children the way that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice did, but it was a very different type of CD. Instead of telling one story, this CD really tells the life of one man, the composer Handel. It’s a perfect tie-in to history as well as into music/composer study. We have listened to it often. We just haven’t created with it yet. This one is perfect for a lapbook or more academic type of study.
It is my intention, as the children get more familiar with the CDs, to use them as springboards for unit studies. Maestro Classics has all kinds of easy ways to expand your studies on the educational materials portion of their website. They even include free homeschool curriculum guides to help in these type of unit studies.
We have loved our time so far with Maestro Classics! In fact, we’ve loved it so much that I’ve already went back and bought Peter and the Wolf for some study on down the road. I love the CDs as much as the children do and it’s such an easy way to add composer and music study into your days whether you just listen to the CDs or you are inspired to do just a bit more.