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What do you get when you cross a favorite childhood tale with an orchestra?
You get Maestro Classics. 😉
I’m making an effort to fit more music study into our week and one of the ways I’m doing that is with Maestro Classics cds. We’ve taken our kids to the orchestra before, and they enjoyed it okay, but the thing about Maestro Classics is that it brings the orchestra to your kids — both physically, but also on their level. I’ve had my eye on them for a long, long time, and we’re finally diving in and trying them out (and I’m going to share our experiences with you!)
Maestro Classics – Music Study Made Easy
I love music, and I know a fair amount about music, but I need help teaching music. I don’t want to get all crazy deep with it, either. At this age I just want to introduce the general elements of music and the orchestra to my children. I want it to be fun and enjoyable. Are you with me?
Maestro Classics is a series of cds that introduces children to classical music through familiar stories. While listening to a favorite story, kids learn to appreciate the mood and style of the music, learn to identify various instruments, learn a little about the people behind the music and learn a little background on the story as well.
Mike Mulligan – A Beloved Story Brought To Life By Orchestra
My son loves his Mike Mulligan book. I actually hadn’t ever read it until a friend gave it to him as a toddler, saying that it was a fave of theirs. I’m glad she did because it became a fave of ours, too! Knowing that my son was a little leery of learning about classical music, I knew that Mike was the man to introduce us (my son) to the Maestro Classics cds.
With the help of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mike Mulligan is brought to life with a lively Irish tune and a set of “uilleann” (Irish) bagpipes. My kids began dancing and jigging around the room as the music began to play. We had fun listening for the creative ways the story was brought to life (like when the trombones imitated the sounds of airplanes – and you’ll never guess what was used to make the steam sound!)
More Than A Story Set to Music (or About the CD.)
In addition to the Mike Mulligan story, our cd included little “lessons” about the conductor, and also the history behind Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. One of the most interesting things was the track about the music, the instruments used, and the melodies that were included. We had all missed the inclusion of “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” when we listened the first time through. Now it’s one of our favorite parts!
Also on the cd was a sing along song – a version with words and version without. Not only did we enjoy singing along with the Mike Mulligan song, but we’ve caught ourselves singing it around the house. To hear samples for each track included on the cd, there’s a set of audio samples on the product page.
The Activity Booklet
Each cd comes with a little booklet inside the case. If you choose to download your Maestro Classics, the activity booklet is included in a .pdf with it. Inside you’ll find short biographies about some of the main people involved such as the conductor, the author, even the “Little Boy” who does the voice in the story. Some of these are discussed in the audio tracks and some are not. Also included are a variety of activities. For Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, we found a crossword puzzle, a maze, a dot to dot and a secret code (using music notes to decode it.)
The first time we listened along I asked the kids to just sit and listen and soak it all in. Over the next week and a half we listened to it another 5 or 6 times. For those additional lessons, I would let them read along in the book, and then we included an activity and/or an audio track to take the music appreciation just a little bit farther.
Other Activities We Did On Our Own
To take what we had learned just one step farther, the kids and I spent a few minutes at the end of our study with Mike Mulligan to learn a little more about the orchestra and the instruments. We found a couple of good websites (like this one and this one) to help us look up and listen to the instruments that were referred to throughout the lessons.
Another fun thing we did was taking a few minutes to look up Irish folk dancing videos on YouTube. We had seen the dancing before, but it was good to take a few minutes to listen to the Irish music to get a feel for the sound of it. (What I mean is, *you* know and *I* know that Maestro Classics’ Mike Mulligan sounds Irish, but how do we know that except through frequent exposure? See?)
Did you know??
Final Thoughts on Maestro Classics’ Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel
We really did enjoy our first exposure to the Maestro Classics collection (and I have no doubt we’ll enjoy the next one, too!) If you have any questions, leave those in the comments. Or, if you’ve listened to any of the Maestro Classics cds, tell me which is your favorite. =)
This is a compensated review. Compensation, in the form of money or product, does not sway my devotion to my readers to provide a true and honest review. Read my disclosure policy and review page for more information on how I approach reviews. I want to thank Ruth and the Maestro Classics company for providing the product to review.