I am always struggling to find ways to work composer study or music appreciation into our schedule. Classical music was not a favorite of mine until we started homeschooling 10 years ago. Our second year of homeschooling found us using Charlotte Mason Methods which include composer study. Each and every year we have come to appreciate classical music more and more, especially my teenage daughter. She works much more independently these days being a junior in high school, so when I was chosen to review The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics, I knew right away I would use it with my tutoring students.
The Nutcracker CD is part of a 12 CD library that includes: Peter and the Wolf, The Story of Swan Lake, Carnival of the Animals, My Name is Handel, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, The Tortoise and the Hare, Merry Pranks of Master Till, Casey at the Bat, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Soldier's Tale, and Juanita la langosta Espanola. The entire 12 CD collection retails for $150.00 with free shipping. The Nutcracker CD can be purchased for $16.98 which also includes free shipping, while the MP3 version retails for $9.98. The MP3 is an instant download to any computer or device. We received the physical CD to review which includes a small 21 page booklet insert that includes information about the Ballet, The Harp, and Tchaikovsky.
The Nutcracker along with the other CD were created by Stephen and Bonnie Simon. Both with many years of experience in conducting and music education. The music is performed by The London Philharmonic and narration of the story by the wonderful storyteller, Jim Weiss. You will hear 16 scenes of The Nutcracker story through 21 tracks with a running time of a hour. Each CD in the series including The Nutcracker, has an accompanying curriculum guide found on the Maestro website.
I wanted to come up with a fun way to incorporate the CD into our day. We decided to devote an entire day to The Nutcracker CD and make it a fine arts/unit study kind of day. I utilized the curriculum guide from the Maestro Classics website which highlighted activities involving Ballet, History and Geography, Science, Language Arts, Art, Music and Math. I also did a little investigating around the Internet for other activities as well. One day last week we devoted the day to The Nutcracker and followed little rabbit trails from the music, composer, and history of the time frame the story and music was written.
For language art I printed off some mad libs worksheets with The Nutcracker story, writing prompts for the kids to write their own fairy tale, and a word search that had them find words from the story.
In art the students drew a nutcracker then used water colors to finish him off. I provided two different version ( an easier and more difficult version). They actually worked on this through some of the time we were listening to the CD.
I also printed off a note booking page to fill out information about Tchaikovsky with material to read about the famous composer. We watched videos about how Nutcrackers are made, playing the celesta, and playing a music rhythm game with cups to the Nutcracker music.
I feel quite certain the best part of the day for all of us was listening to the beautiful music and story provided on The Nutcracker CD. It put us all in the Christmas spirit. It made me that more interested in attending The Nutcracker Ballet performed every December in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre. Listening to the CD also inspired me to pick back up adding to my collection of Nutcrackers. I will definitely continue to use these types of CDs with my tutoring students to teach them more about famous composers and classical music. What I am even more excited about is being inspired to create a class for our Cooperative around these CDs for 6 and 7 years in music appreciation that will begin in January. Maestro Classics has put out something every family can treasure. Please go to Maestro Classics and see which CD would work best for your home. Also see what the other Crew Members thought of their CDs.
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