{Review Crew} Maestro Classics

This year we have focused on violin studies and have not done a good job listening to classical works and studying composers.  I was excited to review and receive the CD’s My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Maestro Classics to enjoy classical music with an educational twist!

Maestro Classics Review

What is it?
Maestro Classics is a classical music series of CD’s that highlight famous works by various composers.  The products give background information about the pieces and the composers, including biographies, definitions of musical terminology, explanation of the themes and moods in the pieces, and discussion of types of instruments.  Each CD contains narration as well as excerpts from musical works.

Maestro Classics Review

My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music contains the story behind Water Music written by Handel for the King of George.  The music was written as a surprise for the monarch and was played from a boat while Handel was traveling down the river to meet the king.  Not only was Handel a revered composer, some believe that Handel was even acting as a spy during some of his travels to England where he played music for the royals.  This CD is recommended for ages 5 and up.

This CD contains 6 tracks:

  1. The Story of Water Music – a historical look at the events surrounding the composition of Water Music
  2. About Handel and the Story – biographical information about Handel and the time in which he wrote the music
  3. My Name is Handel Song – words about Handel that are set to the music
  4. About the Music with the Maestro – information about different types of music written by Handel and musical terms and themes 
  5. Prepare to Perform – invites the listener to prepare to sing along to the My Name is Handel song
  6. My Name is Handel Sing Along – the song is played again for the listener to sing along

Maestro Classics Review

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice contains the story behind the musical score written by Dukas.  This music was based on a poem written by a German poet who rewrote the ancient Greek story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  In this story, a young apprentice tries to get ahead in his chores by putting some brooms under a spell to help him clean.  He does not have good results as he realizes that he does not know how to stop the spells.  This CD is recommended for ages 6 and up.

This CD contains 7 tracks:

  1. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – a summary of the story about the young apprentice
  2. About the Story – background information about the story and the authors
  3. March of the Brooms – the music to one movement of Dukas score
  4. About the Music – a narration about the themes, instruments, and musical devices used in the piece
  5. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – the musical score by Dukas
  6. Prepare to Perform – an idea for using pots and pans for instruments to play your own version of March of the Brooms
  7. Play-Along for Kitchen Percussion – the March of the Brooms for playing along with your own instruments

Each CD also comes with a small 24-page activity booklet that contains additional facts about the composers, the orchestra, musical instruments, musical terms, and historical facts.  The booklets also have simple activities like cross word puzzles, dot-to-dot puzzles, and coded messages.  

These CD’s are geared for children between the ages of 6-12 (but I enjoyed listening to them too!). I found that my younger kids (ages 5 and 6) really enjoyed the Sorcerer’s Apprentice because the March of the Brooms song was so exciting.  My oldest daughter (age 8) loved the CD about Handel and got the most out of the longer story that detailed the background of the song with information about Handel.

How did we use this product?
I put these CD’s on our iPods so we could listen wherever we were.  We enjoyed them in the car but made special time to listen to them while we were in the homeschool room curled up in bean bag chairs.  After listening to the CD’s we had fun with the suggested projects and looking through the small booklets that came with each CD.

My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music was perfect for our composer studies this semester since we are studying Handel!  We enjoyed adding in a few picture books about the composer as well.  My girls enjoyed putting on princess dresses to dance along to the beautiful music while Tiger played the part of the conductor.  And they put on a performance to the My Name is Handel Song. 

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was a lively and exciting piece of music with a rich back story.  We spent some time researching more about the Greek story that was turned into a poem and then set to music.  We also watched the part of the movie Fantasia that uses Dukas’ music.  Then we had a wonderful time making our own instruments with pots and pans and banging along to the March of the Brooms.  This was a favorite activity of our toddler Ladybug!

What did we think?
The CD’s contain wonderfully detailed information about the composers and the musical scores.  We all found these fascinating as they are retold in a way that is appealing to young children.  We all learned so much history as we listened!

I loved how the stories and music were woven together to make each piece memorable.  Now my kids will easily recognize these two pieces of music and never forget the composers.

The producers add in musical terminology, description of instruments playing, information about orchestras, and other details about the style of music, the mood the composer was trying to achieve, and the musical themes presented in the pieces.  We learned what “motif” means as well as the definition of “overture.”  These CD’s are like mini-music appreciation classes in a fun format!

While the booklets are fun to read and have activities in them, we found them difficult to write in because they are the slick, shiny type of paper that only works well with certain types of pen.  The booklets are also very small which does make it difficult for smaller children to try to write in them.

The songs on the Sorcerer’s CD are between 2 minutes and 11 minutes long.  On the Handel CD the songs are much shorter with the exception of the first track which is the introduction to Handel and the story behind Water Music.  This track is almost 40 minutes long.  So this CD felt more like an audio book to my children.  The story was a little bit long for my younger ones – it had tons of information!

My kids enjoyed the activity ideas that were on the CD’s.  Playing along to March of the Brooms with pots and pans was so fun and it quite honestly sounded amazing with the music.  I was surprised how  well the pot and pan drums went with the music!  The Handel CD has a song that is used as a sing along for the kids.  The words and music are included in the booklet to aid in singing along.  And yes, the song is permanently stuck in my head!

My wrap up!
These CD’s are wonderful!  We loved the stories behind the pieces, the historical information about the composers, the details about types of instruments, and the introduction to musical themes and terminology.  These were excellent music education resources!

The creators did an excellent job choosing pieces that appeal to children and making the pieces memorable with the stories interspersed throughout the songs.  We can’t wait to get more of the CD’s!

More info…..
Be sure and visit Maestro Classics online to see their educational resources and curriculum guides that complement the CD’s. 

My Name is Handel can be purchased as a CD for $16.98 and as an MP3 download for $9.99.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice can be purchased as a CD for $16.98 and as an MP3 download for $9.98.

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