Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Children’s Music from Maestro Classics (Review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew)

We received two CDs from Maestro Classics for review purposes!

Product Links: The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Vendor Information Link: Maestro Classics

Age Appeal: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (4+ and families)  and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (6+ and families)

Format: 1 CD per product (total playing time approximately 40-50 minutes)

Price: As of May 5, 2014 each CD is $16.98 and MP3 downloads are around $9.98

Music played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Simon and narrated by Yadu.  It could only mean one thing, Maestro Classics!

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (music by Paul Dukas and based on a poem by Goethe) includes 7 tracks with the original version, music with the story, about the music and the story, and more.  There is also a 24-page activity booklet.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, written by Virginia Lee Burton and composed by Stephen Simon also includes 7 tracks with the music and story, about the music and author, and a sing-along.


Our Experience: 

Our family enjoys listening to classical music.  We have listened to Maestro Classics, My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and reviewed Peter and the Wolf, so we knew we would enjoy these CDs. 

As soon as the CDs came in the mail B and C wanted to listen to Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  We sat on the couch and listened to the CD.  We spent another morning listening to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

We also had fun working on the included 24-page booklet.  There is a section for each CD on the website which has been developed for homeschoolers and includes sections on history, science, geography, language arts, art, music, and math.  We had fun with that too.  It was a lot of fun to learn even more.

I know we will be listening and enjoying these CDs for many years to come. 

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Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I thought it was great that each of the CDs had the same basic programming, so we knew what to expect.
  • There were two parts I really enjoyed, “About the Music” and “About the Story” or in Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel it was about the author, Virginia Lee Burton.  Those were the sections where I felt I learned the most.  I learned what instruments played what character or scene, more about Virginia Lee Burton, and the long history behind The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
  • I would have enjoyed hearing the Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel orchestral arrangement without the story as it was done on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  The music was so fun with the Uilleann pipes, but the story took away from enjoying the music.
  • The booklets that came with the CDs had fun activities like crosswords, word searches, and dot-to-dots.  There was also information about the different instruments like the Irish Uilleann pipes.
  • The CDs are something people can listen to again and again.  I am looking forward  to the next time we listen.  I am sure I will learn something new.


B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fourth grade):   

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  This was my favorite of the two.  Why?  You might ask.  I liked this one better, because I like the story about Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne.  I did not like that it did not have the music without the words.  My favorite part about the music was the planes.  I did like the end when everything turned out well.  I also liked doing the activities in the book.  I really liked learning more about the music.  I also liked that Mary Anne dug the new town hall of Popperville in one day and they dug faster and better when more people were watching.

I liked The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  My favorite part was “March of the Brooms.”  I thought the music went nicely with the words.  I also liked how they talked about the music and the story and how it pointed out all the special features.

Overall, I would highly recommend both CDs.

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in second grade): 

I liked listening to the music and the stories.  It was fun to play along with the music.

I liked “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with the music and the story.  It was fun to do the activities for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and listen to the story.  The music was good.

I would recommend these CDs for children my age, older, and younger.   

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Dad’s Thoughts:

We reviewed two stories from the Maestro's Classics children's music series, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  These stories by Stephen Simon, the Conductor, and played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra bring classical music for children to life.  They have won Parent's Choice Awards and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Best Audio Award.

I enjoyed how the children's music programs were put together.  First you heard the story then they explained the history behind the story and then how the music is put together.  And finally you get to listen to the story again putting everything together.  Both The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel stories were very entertaining. I especially liked that the second playing of The Sorcerer's Apprentice did not include the narration so you could listen to the music and hear all the different parts of the score which is also a dislike for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel because the second listening still had the narration with the music.  It would have been better to leave the narration out even though the music would have been shorter.

All in all, the Maestro Classics are enjoyable, informative and just the right play length.  They also include activity booklets with the CD's which my kids found fun to do.  The Maestro Classics series is worth the investment.

Mama recommends Maestro Classics!

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