Maestro Classics is a great way to introduce your young children to classical music. While they recommend it for children ages 5 to 12 years old I think even younger children would love it. What they do is put stories to classical music in such a way that really brings the music to life and makes it interesting for children.
We reviewed the CD The Story of Swan Lake which narrated the classic ballet written by Tchaikovsky so the children could understand what was happening in the music.
Gess was captivated by it and when I told her that it was a ballet, she began her own interpretive dance of the story which actually is quite a workout. She would dance so hard that during the narration she would pause often with a big worn out, "Whew!"
Once you have listened to The Story of Swan Lake, the CD continues to tell you about the composer and the music. It was interesting to learn that Tchaikovsky did not study music until after he was finished with school and how he was even told by one music teacher to give it up! There were many other interesting facts too.
There is also a beautiful, though small insert with the CD that offers other information and many activities. We read through it together and talked about each one, specifically those that were mentioned on the CD.
One of the activities explained the difference between major and minor chords and how typically music in a major chord is happy and music in a minor chord is sad. The book shows you some examples and since my son has a keyboard, I pulled it out so Gess could hear what they sounded like. First I had her try to play them. (She had to play one key at a time.)
Then I played them and had her guess whether it was minor or major chord by asking her was it happy or sad. Then of course she just played on the keyboard for awhile which didn't sound anything like classical music but certainly was fun!
The last part of the CD was really neat as it summed up the story in words using music from within the ballet. You first hear the song, then it teaches you the words and tells you how to sing it (the words are also printed in the insert). Then you sing along with only the accompaniment. Gess really enjoyed this part. Actually we both enjoyed learning the song. In fact we have thoroughly annoyed my husband by singing it way too much. :) Anyway, we have a karaoke system on our television/media center so Gess was able to sing along with the CD using a microphone and that was even more fun!
They also offer a curriculum guide on their website that is geared for homeschoolers that helps you tie the music into your other subjects like language arts, history, science, geography, math and others. We did not use these helps but might explore them in the future. For Gess' level we found the information in the booklet and on the CD gave us enough material to cover although we did utilize our library to learn a little bit more about Tchaikovsky and the ballet.
I just honestly loved everything about Maestro Classics and The Story of Swan Lake. Not being very knowledgeable about classical music myself it was a really great way to introduce Gesserine to it. I didn't have to know that much since the CD took care of it all for me. It also inspired us both to want to hear more of Tchaikovsky's music so we rented a CD from our library. Gess even plays the Maestro Classics CD in her room and will listen to it while coloring or playing when she isn't in the mood to dance. It's just really well done and we both enjoyed using it.
Maestro Classics offers 9 different stories and you can purchase them all together or individually. The CD's sell for $16.98 each or you can download the MP3 and PDF Booklet for $9.98. You can also get the entire collection for $128.00 which is a $25.00 savings.
So, as you can see even the pricing is fairly reasonable for what you get, though personally I would buy the downloadable version and save $7.00. In fact once we have thoroughly explored Tchaikovsky, I plan on purchasing Peter and The Wolf next. We loved this way too much not to get more and I can think of no better way to bring music into our homeschool (which is something we haven't done up until now).
We absolutely loved Maestro Classics and think that you might to0. To learn more visit the Maestro Classics website or see what other members of the TOS Crew thought about it.
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free copy of "The Story of Swan Lake" for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.