You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, December 18, 2009

TOS Review Maestro Classics

*Please forgive the spacing issues. Blogger is giving me fits!

As part of the TOS crew we received 'The Tortoise and The Hare'. Before last year, we weren't really 'stories on CD' people. But we have some friends who are big fans of stories on CD, and I'm sorry we have been missing out on such a fun way to enjoy literature.

Maestro Classics™ was co-created by Stephen Simon and Bonnie Ward Simon to be the ambassador of great music for both children and adults, helping them experience the art form in new and exciting ways. Through wondrous new recordings, innovative educational and performance materials, and uplifting live performances, Maestro Classics™ guides audiences as they expand their listening horizons and discover the magic that can only be called music.
Maestro Classics are available in the following stories:
The Tortoise and The Hare
Casey At Bat
The Story of Swan Lake
Peter and The Wolf (a favorite of mine!)
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (another favorite and FIAR title)
Juanita the Spanish Lobster
The 'Tortoise and The Hare' held Ella's attention from start to finish; the entire CD is approximately an hour long. The boys hung around for only the story itself (approx 20 min).
The CD begins with the story which is narrated very well by Yadu and accompanied by a symphony orchestra. It's followed by Bonnie Ward Simon giving an explanation of the story and retelling the original, very short, Aesop's Fable. She gives a brief introduction to Aesop and explains some of the characteristics of a fable. This is a great introduction to literary analysis- something Jake does almost every week for his literature class, and something my little guys will be doing as they progress through school.
The conductor, Stephen Simon, explains more about the music in the story and why he composed it the way he did. For example he chose the contrabassoon for the tortoise because it is the lowest instrument in the orchestra and is best played a tortoise, slow and steady. After you listen to this, he encourages you to listen to the story again paying closer attention to the music to see if it enhances your enjoyment and understanding of the story. Ella and I had fun trying to pick out the musical parts he described.
One of the songs in the story is the Pretzel Vendor of Paris. It's such a hoot, and I was glad that they have it as a separate track so you can listen to it again and again. But they don't set it apart simply for your listening pleasure; the words are provided in the program book that accompanies the CD so you can learn a little French while singing about pretzels and learn what "cest le pied," a phrase in the song, means.
Let's talk more about the program book. It's approximately 20 pages of fun information and games on sturdy glossy paper. In the beginning of the book are pictures of all the instruments in an orchestra. Following that you'll learn a little about Notes, Fractions and Time Signatures. Next you can read about the differences between turtles and tortoises and then rabbits and hares. I'll be honest; I didn't know they were distinctly different! Dot to Dot, Crossword and Word Jumble games are included and of course, the words to the Pretzel Vendor of Paris song.
Ella has been toting the book all over the house looking at the pictures and pretending to conduct her orchestra. We have two other titles on hold at the library. I can't wait to get them.
No doubt this is a fun product, but is there real educational value in it? I think so and so do the creators:
The Stories in Music™ series offers three significant benefits, including opportunities:
* "To expand listening horizons."This new series of recordings introduces young people to an orchestra's magical sounds and awe-inspiring power, and helps them understand that music can be dramatic, can paint pictures, and is often filled with humor.
* "To hone listening skills and accumulate musical memories."The musical discussions will sharpen listening skills of children and adults alike, the discussion of the story will promote conversation about human values, and the musical work will leave each listener whistling a new tune.
* "To encourage adults and children to listen to music together."The very young will listen for the story, the slightly older child will enjoy the music, and the adult will be surprised how much he/she has learned.
There are a number of purchasing options. You can buy the Digipak which contains the CD and the program book for $16.95 or three for $45 (use coupon code Maestro45).
For select titles they offer a large case CD pak also for $16.95. This is a durable, large CD package perfect for schools, libraries and families preferring a larger Program Book.
Casey At Bat and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel are available in a gift set (digipak plus paperback book) for $24.99.
There is also a family gift set for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel for $29.95.
Click here to buy your copy of Maestro Classics.
You can read other TOS Crew reviews by clicking here.
I received this product free of charge so that I may offer my honest opinion of it. No other compensation was made.

1 comment:

Maestro Classics said...

Hi Tracy,

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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