Christmas has a special magic all of its own, and of all the things about Christmas that my children love, one of their favorite things is the story of The Nutcracker. I was so excited to hear that ones of my favorite homeschooling companies, Maestro Classics, was creating a new production just in time for Christmas listening. So, when we received an opportunity to listen to their newest production, The Nutcracker, we were incredibly excited to be able to listen to one of our favorite Christmas stories again.
About the CD
The Nutcracker is an hour long adaptation of the ballet version of the story of the Nutcracker. This is a story that I am very familiar with, as one of the special holiday traditions that my parents had with my sister and I growing up was to take us to the Atlanta Ballet version of the Ballet, so The Nutcracker holds magical memories for me as well. In this story, it is Christmas eve, and a family friend gives a little girl named Clara a Nutcracker doll that Clara immediately falls in love with. Clara’s rough brother carelessly breaks Clara’s new doll and Herr Drosselmeyer must fix the doll. He has Clara to leave the doll downstairs to dry the glue overnight, but Clara is not able to sleep. At midnight, she comes downstairs to check on her beloved new doll and finds that the Christmas tree and all the other things in the living room have begun to grow. Soon, the fantasy begins as the Nutcracker battles the Mouse King, turns into handsome prince and whisks Clara off on a tour of his magical kingdom.
Metro Classics has condensed the ballet into an hour long production and Jim Weiss come in to narrate the story of the ballet. He narrates as the music plays and occasionally pauses in narration to allow you to appreciate sections of the music. It was truly a lovely blend of story and music to listen to as your ear is trained to understand what is going on in each piece of the ballet.
Accompanying the CD is an activity book that has an outline of the story, a history of ballet, music to the overture of the Nutcracker, the history of the harp, a biography of Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky, a word scramble and a crossword puzzle to figure out. Maestro Classics also has a downloadable unit study curriculum to go along with the CD (as well as all the other CDs, which is one of the reasons why Maestro Classics is one of my favorite homeschool friendly companies).
This is really beautifully done. The music is beautiful, and the narration is perfect without being overwhelming. There were a couple of times when we were allowed to just appreciate the music for long enough the the children were asking, “Where’d the narrator go?,” but as an adult, I thought the pauses between narration were perfect for ear training the children to listening to the music.
I thought it was funny that, when the ballet was over, Rose said, “But that’s only half the story!!” I had forgotten that her favorite variation of the nutcracker is actually the storybook version, and the ballet that we’re all so familiar with deviates fro the storybook in many, many ways. It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to share those kinds of differences with your children though, so I appreciated the opportunity to talk about this with Rose.
The children and I both really loved the music and story, and I’ve spent a couple of hours pouring over the curriculum guide that goes with the CD preparing to drop our regular curriculum plans for a December Nutcracker study, so this CD and the curriculum guide are going to be getting some extensive use over the next few weeks.
I don’t think I can say enough how the CD is high quality and how Maestro Classics is one of the names that you can trust when it comes to educational materials. If you’re on the fence, buy it. You won’t regret it. The CDs from Maestro Classics are ones that will be listened to in your family for many, many years to come.