Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homeschool Review: Maestro Classics

I was so excited when Brenda from the TOS Crew, posted the list for Maestro Classics and I was on it, woo-hoo!! Music isn't something I have any personal talents (or much knowledge) in, so anything to help me "teach" music is a good thing. Even more exciting, the product we got to review was Peter and the Wolf.  We read a book (and listened to a CD) of Peter and the Wolf as part of the Waldorf preschool program I use with the girls when they were 3-5 (it was a year & a half long, we started the winter they were 3 1/2, finished up the spring they turned 5), they'd enjoyed it then (and so had I), so I was excited to have a "refresher" and see what they thought of it now that they're older.

We received the CD soon after Christmas. We talked about it one day during school, then listened to it in the car on our way to get milk (we get milk from a farm about 1/2 hour away, so it's abit of a trip each week). It was as fun as I remembered it to be! I enjoyed the narration, that tells the "story" that the music echoes (I admit, I wouldn't be able to follow the story without the narration, I don't know my instruments THAT well).

For those not familiar with it, Peter and the Wolf is a children's piece, written by Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev. The instruments represent the people and animals in the story. It helps a child learn about instruments and the orchestra in a fun way.

We kept the CD in the car and listened to it a few more times when driving places far enough away to listen to the complete story (just under 1/2 hr).  In addition to the narrated version of the music, and information about the composer, narrator, etc. There's also a playing of the music without any narration. I had them listen to it, and asked if they could "hear" the story, but they just looked at me like I was nuts, hee hee. I love having that option on the CD though!

The CD comes with a cute little full-color booklet with information about the composer, conductor, narrator, and various instruments. There are also fun little activities in the booklet. A dot-to-dot, crossword puzzle, matching, etc. You can see the answer key for the activities here, to get an idea what the activities are like. I wish there was a way to order extras, so we could have had one for each kid, but I couldn't find a way to do that.

Obviously, this product is ideal for an auditory learner, but with the activities and such a fun, "active" musical piece, it really works well for any learning style. I'm an extremely visual learner, and in general having to "just listen" to something is difficult for me, but I enjoyed this story (granted, I was driving, while listening to it, if I'd been at home I likely would have colored a picture or knitted or something while listening). A sort picture book to accompany the story (either in addition to the booklet or incorporated into it) would also help to keep young visual learners' attention, IMO. I think this would also incorporate well into any teaching style, it could be presented as part of "class" for the structured homeschoolers (school-at-home, etc). But also worked well the way we used it in the car, for more laid-back homeschoolers. Even a die-hard unschooler could leave it laying around (called strewing, by some) and the bright colors would likely attract the attention of a child, so that they asked to listen to it! The company lists the age range as 5+, but I really think even younger children can enjoy it. They might not understand it at the same level, then again an 8 yr old isn't going to understand it the same as a 15 yr old, but I know my girls enjoyed Peter and the Wolf at age 3 or 4. This is certainly a CD the whole family can enjoy together. Even if you don't homeschool, this is a fun music piece and can give your kids a little extra music education that they'll think is just a fun CD to listen to! So I'd recommend this to anyone with kids!

I really liked this product. It's a fun, but educational piece of music, and the narration and additional tracks of information on the CD are awesome! As already mentioned, I like that the CD includes the narrated and un-narrated versions of the music. I think my kids would have liked it more if we hadn't taken time out in the midst of Jonathan Park to listen to it. They don't like listening to music in the car AT ALL right now, preferring stories. So, when I asked what they thought, their response was "it's music, boring!". BUT they enjoyed it as preschoolers, and I like this version as well or better than what I remember of the version we got from the library at that time (no, I don't remember what version it was, except that it had a book & CD), so I think it's just the stage they're in right now, not anything against the music or this arrangement of it.

Really the only things I would change at all would be to make additional activity books/sheets available. It would be great if they were available on the website so each family could print off as many as they needed (if the company preferred to only offer this to customers who'd purchased the CD, a password could be included with the CD to a restricted part of the site).  

You can see all the products offered by Maestro Classics, here. In addition to Peter and the Wolf, they offer such classics as Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Tortoise and the Hare, and others for $16.98 each.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of Maestro Classics' Peter and the Wolf in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

1 comment:

Maestro Classics said...

Hi Lisa-Anne,

Thanks for the wonderful review of our Peter and the Wolf CD this winter. I just wanted to let you know that since you reveiwed our CD we've made a Facebook page so that our fans can participate in monthly giveaways (June was Peter and the Wolf, as a matter of fact) and get coupons. We'd love to invite you and your readers to join our page and thanks again for the lovely review!

Social Media Coordinator
Maestro Classics