Much More than Music Appreciation: Maestro Classics

The following CDs were provided by Maestro Classics for the purpose of this TOS Schoolhouse Crew review. 

logoOur house is often filled with music. Maestro Classics beautifully combines two things our family enjoys listening to: music and audio books. We received two of the award winning Maestro Classics CDs: My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Selections are magnificently performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra. CDs are narrated, directed, and produced by Molly and Stephen Simon.

Each of the selections from Maestro Classics are available on CD ($16.98) or an mp3 download ($9.99). Each of these CDs contain so much information. They were designed to introduce classical music to children with stories. Yes, the songs and stories are the main focus, but history is woven into Handel's story and a clear explanation of music instruments, types of music is mixed with the child's story in Mike Mulligan. These CDs can easily be used as the spine of a homeschool unit study. We started with these on a road trip, but they have been listened to inside now over and over. My children and I all enjoyed the music.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is recommended for ages 4+ and families. If I had to describe this in one word, it would be delightful. The Classic children's story of Mike Mulligan's steam shovel (Mary Anne) by Virginia Lee Burton combined with music with a nostalgic sound reminiscent of that which accompanied cartoons from my childhood provided an almost hour long entertaining learning experience. Loyalty, friendship, diligence, and perseverance are built into this timeless tale. 

Each CD includes an activity booklet. The 24-page book with this CD includes biographies, sheet music and words to sing along, and information about the instruments which is also shared on the CD. My son enjoyed the game pages including one requiring him to hold it up to a mirror to decipher the message. The website includes a comprehensive curriculum guide which complements the CD. For example, the math section provides word problems using examples from the story when Mary Anne dug the cellar. The CD includes the music with narraration, explanations and the story, cues of things to listen for in the music, and the music played once again.

My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music includes history both of the composer and the time period of his life in the 1700s. We have been studying composers with our history, and this in depth look at the German composer George Frideric Handel was a fitting combination. King George I was a big part of the story of Handel, so I appreciated the additional facts, pictures, and resources about him that were included in the curriculum guide. Additional ideas are shared to help integrate this CD into science, geography, language arts, music, art, and even math. Additional examples of Handel's operas are also shared in the curriculum guide. My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music is recommended for ages 5+ and families. 

Networking wasn't something I considered in a historical context before, but the tale of Handel and how he worked to regain the new King's favor sounded like something that could happen today almost more than 200 years ago. I've enjoyed Handel's Water Music before, but now that I've heard the story behind it I am enjoying listening to it even more. 

The included activity book contains the history of the harpsichord and organ. Joseph wasn't able to find a harpsichord sound on the keyboard, so he changed the sound to organ and played "My name is Handel" that will forever remind us who composed that song. We also now know the differences in a Baroque orchestra and a modern one.

Joseph played both of the songs from the CDs that were included in the activity guides. 

We love both music and audio books, and this combines both beautifully. My children and I have listened to these over and over and I know we will continue to enjoy them. 

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  1. These look like so much fun. I really need to see about getting a few for my boys!

  2. We thoroughly enjoyed this review :)

  3. We have enjoyed listening to all of the Maestro Classics CDs .


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