Looking for a Cool Resource?

by Natalie Crookston

Here at Harmony Arts, we are all about sharing our love of the arts with your children and allowing that love to penetrate into your homes.  Today, I’d like to share with you a fantastic music education resource from a company whose mission is to cultivate a love of music, expand and develop listening skills, and encourage adults and children to listen together.  The company is Maestro Classics.

What is Maestro Classics?

It is a series of 13 different CDs (or mp3s) with accompanying activity booklets.  Some are classic works such as “The Nutcracker”, “Peter and the Wolf”, “The Story of Swan Lake”, and “Carnival of the Animals” (which our Cycles families will recognize hearing excerpts from on their Sun Catchers #2 CD).  Some are classic stories that are set to music, such as “The Tortoise and the Hare”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, and “Casey at the Bat”.  And a couple are even all about a specific composer such as “My Name is Handel” and “Bach and the Pipe Organ”.

The program was put together by a conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife after an experience they had with their son at the symphony.  She says, “At that moment, I knew I had a mission: to find a way to bring quality age-appropriate concert experiences to children and their families.”  The information is geared for children and shared in a way that children will enjoy and understand.

Is it just a recording of the music?

No! and this is what I love about it!! The first track is the music with narration.  Then, after you’ve listened to the music and story, the following tracks teach you about the composer or author, the story, and the music you just listened to with musical excerpt examples.  For example, in “Mike Mulligan” the composer shares how he wrote the music, had to decide which instruments to include, and then how he decided to use the bagpipes for Mike’s tune.  He then goes on to teach that there are two different kinds of bagpipes and what the difference is.  He also explains and lets you listen to the different folk tune themes that he added and why. He points out and lets you listen to the part where the French horns and trumpets are pretending to be car horns, or the trombones are pretending to be airplanes.  He says, “Instruments can even imitate people sometimes saying not so nice things.”  After you listen to a short excerpt he says, “That was Henry B. Swat laughing in his rather mean way, played by three trumpets with mutes.”

After all that you’ve learned about the author, composer, and music then you get to listen to the story again.  This time your ear will hear in the music all the things you just learned about and deepen your appreciation for the music. I can tell you as a mother that this is another fun music education resource! My children love listening to these CDs and I love the education I get from them as well.  If you think this might be a good addition to your family, check out their website at www.MaestroClassics.com