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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TOS Review - Maestro Classics The Nutcracker

Maestro Classics Review
It's a holiday tradition in ballet and great music, but I have never actually seen the Nutcracker ballet - Not even on TV. So, I was thrilled to get a chance to experience this for the first time and to share it with my children as part of a review The Nutcracker CD and study guide from Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics Review

What is the Maestro Classics and The Nutcracker?

Maestro Classics presents classical music and stories with  music in a way that captures the interest of the young listener. The Nutcracker came with an audio CD and a booklet that included a couple of activities - a word scramble and a crossword puzzle. It also included the Act I and Act II complete with all of the songs in order, A brief history of ballet, a 2-page spread of the overture music for the nutcracker (simplified on-note style), Information about the harp instrument, a brief biography of Tchaikovsky, and information about Stephen Simon, music conductor and Jim Weiss, storyteller.

The music on The Nutcracker CD is adapated by Stephen Simon. He is a Grammy-nominated conductor and has been a music director for the Washington Chamber for 25 years.

The narrator of the story is Jim Weiss. He has been a storyteller for more than 25 years. His voice is very soothing and fantastic for storytelling accompanied with music.

For those of you who don't know (like me until now) what the Nutcracker is about - It is a story of a young girl named Clara who receives a gift of a nutcracker from a toy maker on Christmas Eve. Her brother breaks it, and the toy maker tells her he will fix it. So, she tucks the nutcracker in for bed beneath the Christmas tree as she heads to bed. The story then unfolds where the nutcracker comes to life in the form of a prince. After a battle with the Mouse King, the Nutcracker Prince takes Clara on a journey to an amazing Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The next morning, when Clara awakes, she wonders if it were all real or just a dream.

This is all told through symphony music and usually accompanied by the beautiful dance of ballerinas in a classic Christmas-time ballet.

The CD contains 58:01 minutes of music and storytelling and is recommended for children 5 years of age and older or for the entire family to enjoy. I received a physical CD of The Nutcracker with a study guide included inside. Other members of the crew received Peter and The Wolf.

How Did We Use It?

I gathered my younger two, and I put the CD into my player and began to play it. I asked them to listen and tell me what they thought. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, because just that morning I had learned that our homeschool co-op was planning a field trip to see the ballet of the Nutcracker. So, I also asked them if they wanted to go see that ballet and then played the CD of The Nutcracker story put to music and read to them about the history of the ballet.

What Did We Think?

I was especially excited about this CD, because first - I have never actually seen the entire Nutcracker ballet myself, and second - For the first time ever, my family is planning a field trip in December to see the Nutcracker live. I love the booklet that is included with the activities and music. I especially loved the brief biographies and history of ballet sections because it turned a music class into a history class. I'm so happy that I now know the story of the Nutcracker and am even more excited about seeing the live ballet. These Maestro Classics are a great way to introduce children to classic stories and music.

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Maestro Classics Review

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