Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maestro Classics Peter and the Wolf CD Review

My family had the privilege of listening to the Peter and the Wolf CD by Maestro Classics for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Maestro Classics is a company that specializes in a classical music series called Stories in Music. This series has 12 titles to choose from of classical music CDs or MP3s with narration. Each title is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and has a story and musical explanation to go with the music. These Classics for Children are both educational and fun for young and old alike.

Peter and the Wolf is a real classic. It is truly a creative folk story with both classical music and narration. The Maestro Classics version is a physical musical CD (also comes in MP3 digital download) with a activity booklet and curriculum guide. It also includes a biography of the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, an extra track of music without the narration, a performance by a folk trio, Trio Voronezh, who play selections from Peter and the Wolf with traditional Russian instruments, and a 24-page activity booklet. The Maestro Classics Peter and the Wolf is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Grammy-nominated conductor Stephen Simon and and narrator Yadu. The gorgeous illustrations on the cover and inside the activity booklet are by award-winning children's book illustrator Salley Mavor of Wee Folk Studio.

Maestro Classics Peter and the Wolf Tracklisting:
  1. Introduction (3:57)
  2. Peter and the Wolf performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Narration by Yadu (25:10)
  3. About the Composer: Sergei Prokofiev (6:14)
  4. A Russian Peter performed by Trio Voronezh (2:21)
  5. About the Music (6:18)
  6. Peter and the Wolf performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Instrumental) (21:03)
  7. Invitation to Grandfather's Party (0:26)
  8. Kalinka performed by Trio Voronezh (2:45)
Total Playing Time: 68:16

The CD insert has a lot of fun activities in it to do too:
  • Match the Instruments
  • Prokofiev the Composer (a little about him with an activity to write in Russian)
  • Identify the Mouthpiece (fill in blanks and write what instrument the picture goes with)
  • Dot-to-Dot
  • Trio Voronezh (a little about the Russian band with a fun fact that they now live in Eugene, Oregon!)
  • Peter's Tune (the written music for the character, Peter)
  • The Balalaika (introduction to this traditional Russian instrument)
  • The Bayan (introduction to this traditional Russian instrument)
  • The Domra (introduction to this traditional Russian instrument)
  • Crack the Code! (write the letter under the picture it represents)
  • Word Search
  • Musical Question (read the notes and put the letters they represent in the blanks)
  • Crossword Fun!
  • Our Players (a bit about the conductor, narrator, and creative director and producer of Maestro Classics)
You can also find a free homeschool curriculum guide on the Maestro Classics website for all twelve of their Stories in Music. Each one has links for  lesson plans in History, Science, Geography, Language Arts, Art, Music, and Math. You can download all the subjects in one unit study on PDF from their website.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I believe that teaching classical music to children is important because it enhances: intellect, concentration, memory, self-discipline, attention span, listening skills, social skills, language skills, math skills, spatial-temporal reasoning, etc. It also gives a greater appreciation of a wider spectrum of music, relieves stress, improves mood and emotion skills, and stimulates the brain while advancing children's development. This "Mozart Effect" has been documented in many studies around the world. The benefits of classical music and musical education are substantial.

My husband and I grew up in the 80's with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies by Warner Bros. & Silly Symphonies by Disney on TV and Disney's Fantasia full length movie featuring Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Peter and the Wolf mini classic film. When I was a kid I really didn't think anything of it when I was watching them. They were just silly cartoons to me, but now that I am older I realize that these musical animated films were filled with great classical music. These were a huge musical influence on my husband and I. When I was asked to review The Nutcracker or Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics I chose Peter and the Wolf because my fond memories of the 1946 animated Disney version as a child.

The Maestro Classics version is wonderful. Track 1 and 2 are very similar with the Disney version, but without the animation so you can picture everything that happens in your head and be more imaginative about it. With this story you can follow along with the instruments easily, but it still makes you think and this is great for little minds. My daughters, Zari and Teela, who had not heard Peter and the Wolf before, were captivated with the story and music. My girls loved how each character was represented by an instrument and had its own theme. I am so happy that the director of the Children's Theater in Moscow asked Prokofiev to compose a work to introduce children to the symphony orchestra because if she hadn't we wouldn't have had Peter and the Wolf. We love the Russian Folk Medley that the Trio Voronezh played. It was really fun to hear some of Peter and the Wolf played with traditional Russian instruments. Kalinka was also fun and my girls liked to dance to this piece because it slowed down and then sped up. I am going to delve deeper into the homeschool curriculum guide with my boys in the coming weeks. I know all of my kids will enjoy doing the science, art, and music projects and learning about the history, etc. behind the music.

We had a wonderful time listening to the Maestro Classics Peter and the Wolf. We learned a lot about the composer and some traditional Russian instruments along with some other interesting information. I highly recommend this CD, activity booklet, and curriculum guide to anyone that wants to have and teach a better appreciation for classical music.

Purchase Peter and the Wolf on CD for $16.98 + free shipping, mp3 for $9.98, and on iTunes for $9.99.

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