My oldest daughter has a love of classical music. She’s a piano performance major with a passion for sharing music with children. Having a bit of familiarity with Maestro Classics from a CD we received as a gift a few years ago, Boobear, Supergirl and I were both super excited when the Schoolhouse Review Crew provided an opportunity to review two CD’s: My Name is Handel The Story of Water Music and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
My Name is Handel ~ The Story of Handel’s ‘Water Music’
This one was destined to be my favorite. I have had a soft spot in my heart for Handel for over 30 years. I love The Messiah. I wasn’t sure if I was familiar with “Water Music” but once I heard it on this CD, I realized I did know this famous piece and love it.
The CD has 6 tracks for a total playing time of just under 49 minutes! The first track is the longest and is 38 minutes long. This is “The Story of Water Music” Interspersed with music we learn a bit about Handel such as his love for Italian opera, how he became the court composer for the Elector of Hanover. We learn that he was away from the court of Hanover for 4 years. We are introduced to Handel’s most successful Italian opera. Water Music was first performed on a barge! The first track also includes The Halleluiah Chorus from the Messiah. I do wish that they would have included a separate track just for the movements of Water Music. I also wish that the first track would have been divided some how as it was quite difficult to listen to all at once.
Track 2 gives more information about Handel and The Story. It is only 3 1/2 minutes long. Track 4 at 5 1/2 minutes is a more formal educational talk about the music of Handel. Tracks 3, 5, and 6 are related to the song “My Name is Handel” a fun song for children to sing set to Water Music theme.
And speaking of listening, one time, while listening to “The Story of Water Music” (Track 1), Supergirl started moving her hands as if she was conducting and stated “I just love this music!” It has also become quite usual and normal to hear her sing “My name is Handel. George Frederick Handel.” I love that in the activity book they include some sheet music so she and Boobear could “perform”.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was originally a story told almost 2000 years ago. The story became a poem and the poem became basis of Dukas’ composition. The original composition by Dukas did not contain any narration at all! This CD has a play time 41:24. The story, music and narration, is just over 11 1/2 minutes long and is the first track. You can hear the March of the Brooms theme on track 3 and hear the original instrumental version with track 5. Educational informational is presented in tracks 2 and 4. Tracks 6 & 7 are fun “prepare to play” and “play-along”. Supergirl loved using an empty plastic milk jug and a “wooden” spoon for a percussion instrument to tap out a steady beat.
I had no idea of the story behind the story. I did not know it was so old or that the moral of the story had changed over time! I loved that the CD includes the history o the original story. Supergirl shared with me: “I love the music but not the story. I like the story but not the dreaming part.”
The Activity Books:
Each of the CD’s does come with a 24 page activity boo. The types of activities varied greatly between the two titles we received, but both were full color, beautiful, and enhanced our studies.
The Water Music activity book had more informational pages than pencil activities. There is a section on the important churches in London during that time and a biographical section. In addition there is a two page spread explaining the orchestra in Handel’s time. My music major daughter loved that there were sections on both the piano and the harpsichord. She’s excited because she is required to take a harpsichord class.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice activity book had more “paper and pen” type activities such as a crossword puzzle, dot to dots and a de-coding exercise. Our favorite, or rather Supergirl’s favorite was the play-along. Like the other activity book, this one had a section on the orchestra but unlike Water Music, focused on pitched percussion or mallet instruments. There’s even a page for “Kitchen Percussion” with different rhythms to try.
Using these CD’s in our Homeschool:
These are intended to be educational as well as entertaining and Maestro Classics makes it easy to incorporate these music appreciation CD’s into home schooling. They even offer home school curriculum guides! Using their guides or purchasing something from their education resources, you could do unit studies covering history, science, language arts, and more.
Sometimes we listened to a CD during lunch. It’s easier for all of us to pay attention if we have something to do. Once we even listened to a CD in the van. Often Supergirl would listen with Boobear in their bedroom just laying on their beds and absorbing the music.
Supergirl really enjoyed the play-along bits included with both CD’s. I also checked out the free guides I linked above. I decided to just stick with listening to the CD’s, working on the sing/play-alongs, coloring pictures while listening to the CD and reading the activity booklet.
My Family’s Thoughts:
It is not quite unanimous that we all preferred The Story of Water Music over The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I am not sure but I think it is because we prefer Handel’s composition style over Dukas’s. Handel is baroque whereas Dukas was an impressionist. Boobear was hard pressed though to pick a preference because “they’re music. I love music. I loved them both.” I made her pick and she did say Handel.
Tailorbear really did not care for the story, “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” because she felt bad for the boy. I think she would rewrite the story to include a chance for redemption for the apprentice. She thinks the sorcerer was a “touch harsh”. She did think the music was “amazing and helped set the atmosphere for the story.” She confided in me that even though she didn’t like the story, she did prefer this CD over the other other one because “it was a real story and not a history lesson.”
In short? We love them. These are going on the Christmas wish list as I would like to own all of them.
- The Vender: Maestro Classics
- The Product: My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
- Series Title: Stories in Music
- Both CD Features: London Philharmonic Orchestra; Stephen Simon, Conductor; and Yadu, narrator.
- Format: CD but MP3 downloads are also available
- Age Range: Handel: 5+ and families Sorcerer: 6+ and families.
- Price: The two CD’s I received are $16.98 each.
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog what others have to say about Maestro Classics. Each reviewer chose two titles from 4 choices.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.