Topic: Homeschool Product Review
What's my third secret? It's something that my high school and college friends know about, but unless you knew me during those times, you probably don't know this. Are you interested yet? All right, I'll tell you! I was once in the band, orchestra and chorus in high school and in college I was in an instrumental ensemble. I play six or seven instruments (none of them very well any more), and I sing! I have always enjoyed music and still do. It's something that I hope that I have passed down to my children. John Allen has taken piano lessons, and is presently learning how to play the guitar. Joshua is also learning how to play piano now.
I think that one of the benefits from teaching your kids about music is their love of different musical types. So many times, kids will only pay attention to the music around them which is usually the music that their parents and friends listen to. When you make a conscience effort to teach music, the student grows to appreciate many different styles. That's why I was so glad that, as a TOS Homeschool Crew member I received from Maestro Classics a free musical CD, "The Tortoise and the Hare", to try out and post a review about on my blog.
This fantastic series of CD's doesn't just set popular stories to music, but it also explains the story and describes how different types of music, and instruments are used to create a feeling for the characters and an understanding of the story. The first thing that you hear when you put on this CD is a story set to music. The narrator on my CD was excellent. He used different voices for different characters and slowed down and sped up when necessary to follow the story line.
Next, the story itself is explained. The historical background and information about the author are very entertainingly taught.
Then comes what I think is the most exciting part. The composer explains why he wrote what he wrote and why he chose the particular instruments that he chose. For example, he explained that a hare has a very unusual gate when it hops around. He explained the reason why the particular music for the hare sounded the way it sounded. He went on to explain why he chose the contra-bassoon, a very low sounding instrument, to be used for the tortoise. Other interesting tid bits about the music and instruments were also shared.
After the explanation of the story and the music, we are invited to listen to the recording once more. This time around, listening is much more fun now that you know what to listen for!
The Tortoise and the Hare had a very cute song in the middle describing a French pretzel salesman. At the end, we are invited to sing along with this fun song while reading the words from the informational booklet that came along with the CD.
The booklet mentioned above ties everything together. It contains over a dozen pages of puzzles and worksheets that reinforce what the CD taught.
I loved everything about the CD. The music, written and conducted by Stephen Simon and played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was fantastic. The narration done by Yadu was equally impressive. I also loved the booklet that went along to reinforce what was taught.
The only thing that I would impress on folks is to make sure that you have a structured environment in which to listen to this CD and enough time to listen to it. We tried twice to get our boys to listen to it. Once was in the car when we were running errands. The stopping and starting didn't work - hence the having enough time suggestion. The other time was while we were cleaning and getting ready for an event at the mission that we work in. The noise and confusion were not conducive to listening and paying attention - hence the structured environment requirement. I ended up listening to the CD myself for this review, but am going to very soon require the boys to listen to it again. This time, however, I will make sure that we are in a quite, peaceful place with time to sit through the whole thing.
I really enjoyed Maestro Classics the Tortoise and the Hare. The total time was very reasonable - less than an hour, and it opens the door to a new and meaningful understanding of how and why music is written. Everything about the CD was well done and, I think, well worth it. Other titles in this series include "Peter and the Wolf", "Casey at Bat" and "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" with many more listed and more to come. The price of each is just $16.98. You can find out more about Maestro Classics by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what the other TOS Homeschool Crew members thought about the different CD's that they received, click here. This is one of those things that isn't just for homeschooling. Unfortunately, with the cuts in budgets and emphasis on academics, many public and private school music programs are not what they used to be. These CD's can be used as a family activity to fill in the gap. So, with that, I won't say "happy homeschooling" but I will say "happy home educating!"
Updated: Saturday, 19 December 2009 11:29 AM CST
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