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This post,Engage a Child in Learning Through Music , was made possible with a digital copy of The Nutcracker which we were provided to review from Maestro Classics. As we love Maestro Classics, our family is now an affiliate with them and links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you in advance to anyone who decides to purchase through one of them.
As I’ve shared in the past, music is something that everyone in my house enjoys. We love to listen to great performances and favorite artists. And, we all enjoy engaging in the production of music on different instruments. With the holidays quickly approaching, The Nutcracker is such a great fit for both the familiar music by Tchaikovsky and the whimsical story that is told in the ballet. The new production by Maestro Classics makes this familiar story accessible to families by making it child friendly.
Engage a Child in Learning Through Music: The Nutcracker and Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics takes classic tales and pairs them with music played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the Stories in Music™ series. Conductor Stephen Simon created family concerts with his wife, Bonnie Ward Simon, who is a music educator. From those concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC., the Stories in Music™ series was born. Narration for the series is provided by Yadu (the stage name for Dr. Konrad Czynski, professor of Humanities at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.)
Each CD offers not only the original production melding story and music, but a lot of behind the scenes features. You will learn more about the story or author, a lesson on the music, and the opportunity to play along with the music.
Many of us are familiar with the music of The Nutcracker. And, we might have even seen a production of the ballet to know bits of the story.
The Nutcracker Story is one of two children, Clara and Fritz, on Christmas Eve with their parents throwing an annual holiday party. A mysterious guest, the toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer, arrives at the party bearing life-sized dancing dolls to entertain the guests. He them gives Clara, his goddaughter, the most special gift of a nutcracker doll. That night, the tree begins to grow and everything comes to life. Clara’s nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and the toy soldiers engage in battle with the Mouse King.
Maestro Classics is now offering this familiar holiday classic for families to enjoy. Beloved narrator, Jim Weiss, provides his voice to the recording as he tells the story over the music many of us will recognize even if we can not name it by title.
Engage a Child in Learning Through Music: Our Thoughts on The Nutcracker
This was the third selection we’ve been blessed to review from Maestro Classics. You can read our previous thoughts on Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as well as The Tortoise and the Hare. We’ve also purchased a few other selections from them just to have in the house as they are a fun way to engage the boys through music.
While I adore the music from the Nutcracker and still pull out an easier piano version of the main pieces to play each holiday season, I have never fully engaged my boys in this story. I figured being a ballet for most productions would be a huge deterrent for them. While I might enjoy watching ballerina’s dance across the stage, I doubt they would have the same appreciation for the skill needed to execute the moves.
Something my boys DO like is music. And, they have heard clips from The Nutcracker over the years on different holiday music CDs we own.
We spent a recent afternoon listening to The Nutcracker mp3 files we were provided for review. Jim Weiss’ voice was familiar to my 7th grade son and well received by my kindergarten student. They recognized a few of the pieces within the larger composition and enjoyed others that were not as familiar. The mp3 purchase included a pdf file of the small booklet included in the CD version. My 7th grade son enjoyed the few puzzles from the booklet while listening.
I was also able to download a curriculum guide for The Nutcracker compliments of Maestro Classics to help expand our learning. This guide covers most subject areas like history & geography, science, language arts and even math. Along with a few other resources I have in the house regarding Christmas around the world, this is going to be a fun holiday unit study for those days when we just want to take a break from our core curriculum.
What ways have you engaged your child in learning through music?
Is The Nutcracker a family favorite during the holiday season?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit the Maestro Classics Review post on the Schoolhouse Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this and other self-paced courses.