I love music, especially good music and I love to expose my children to classical music in an enjoyable way. I am thrilled with a new resource from Maestro Classics I recently got to review. Maestro Classics specializes in music education through stories set to quality classical music. Maestro Classics CDs have won over 45 awards. I received a CD of The Sorcerer's Apprentice and a CD of Casey at the Bat. The ideal age range for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is 6 and older and Casey at the Bat is appropriate for all ages. They cost $16.98 for the CD and are also available as an mp3 download for $9.98.
Both The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Casey at the Bat are intended to be interactive. The narrators speak to the listener and invite participation frequently. I really liked the interaction of the disc. At times it was like having a music teacher in my car while we were listening. I loved the explanations about how the music was composed or modified to create a certain sound. Each album also comes with a 24-page activity book that includes little puzzles like word searches and crossword puzzles, extra information, sheet music, and trivia specific to the album. Casey at the Bat includes the poem and Sorcerer’s Apprentice includes a biography of Dukas.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice set to the music of Paul Dukas. The music is played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Following the 11 and a half minute presentation, there are several educational tracks. I personally found the history of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and biographical sketch of Dukas fascinating. The next several tracks of the CD explain how the piece was composed including various themes present in the music and percussion listening. After further education on the musical work, the students are invited to listen again without narration. Then there is a short track explaining how to make music with household materials and a play along track.
Casey at the Bat is also played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The narration of the poem combined with sound effects really brings this iconic poem to life. There is a track about the poem, poet, and how Casey at the Bat became popular as well as why there are various versions of this poem. The rest of the disc includes discussions about composing music. To illustrate the poem Little Cabin in the Woods is used both with the original music as well as a new composition to tell the story. After several tracks about composition, Casey at the Bat is played again. There is also a track with young Suzuki violinists playing the Casey march and a play along section at the very end of the CD.
The only time we ever really sit and listen to a CD or audiobook is while we are in the car so that is where we listened to both of these albums. We loved them both. The music and sound effects were superb, the narration was interesting and entertaining, and even the heart of my 4 year old was captured with Casey at the Bat. For a week or two every time we got in the car she asked to listen to Casey again. I think of the two, my favorite was the Sorcerer’s Apprentice though. The music was so beautiful and I enjoyed the track without narration and I really loved how the different motifs of music were explained and then changed a little and explained again. I also must say that I could picture the cartoon many of us have seen while I listened. I wanted to get up and dance with the brooms, but since I was driving when we listened to these albums I restrained myself. The one thing that I didn’t like is that occasionally the narrator’s tone would drop very low and it was hard to hear in our car, but that would not have been a problem if we were primarily listening in the house. We didn’t utilize the booklets because they seemed to be a bit young for my older kids and a bit too advanced for my younger kids. Also, since we were in the car, there wasn’t a very good time to use them. I was really impressed with the high quality of both of these albums and would love to listen to more albums from Maestro Classics. I also just discovered as I was finishing up this review that there are homeschool resource guides to all the albums available for free on the website. These guides include additional printables as well as unit study resources to turn your album into an integral part of a unit study. I am going to have to look more into those! Be sure to check out the reviews because the Review Crew also reviewed several other albums from Maestro Classics.