Have you heard of Maestro Classics (affiliate link)? I’d heard of this company who produces classical music for children between the ages of 5+ through reading reviews and activities to go with the music and was intrigued. When the opportunity arose for us to do our own reviews of My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music and Casey at the Bat both the children and I were excited.
My children love music, and you’ll know that I like to expose them to various genres from around the world. Now while I also enjoy music I don’t know all about the background information and history of what we listen to. But I would like my children to be more informed than I am so they can grow a deeper appreciation of music throughout their lives.
The series of albums available through Maestro Classics are done with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The music is beautiful to listen to and the children have really enjoyed both albums.
My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music has 6 tracks with total a playing time of just under 49 minutes. This session is recommended for children from 5 years and up, but my almost four-year-old also really enjoyed it.You can listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra play Handel’s Water Music as well as listen to the narrator, Stephen Simon, tell you about the story of Handel and how he had always been a great musician.
Handel’s his father didn’t want him to become a musician and so took all of his instruments away from him and encouraged him to become a lawyer; a more noble and respectable profession. However, when he went to visit a duke his skills were recognised and he was able to learn from the best teachers available at that time-church organists. Handel’s talent grew and he moved for a time to Italy, and then to London.
When King George I (a German) was crowned King of England Handel feared that he had fallen out of favour with the King for staying away more than the initial year’s leave he was granted so he wrote a song just for King George I and had 50 musicians play it on a crowded barge down the Thames.
I wasn’t familiar with Handel’s background prior to reading about it in the 24 page accompanying booklet and by listening to the story’s narration, but it’s such an interesting story that the children and I scoured our local library trying to dig up more information on Handel as well as Britain at that time. Unfortunately, there isn’t much in our library for that particular period of time, but we did learn a little more about the buildings and lifestyle in Germany at that time.
The booklet contains more information about Handel’s background as well as travel in his day (basically a box carried by men), popular musical instruments of his time, and a page of sheet music called “My Name is Handel” with some fun lyrics written by Stephen Simon. Tristan and Kallista are learning to play this song on their keyboard.
Tristan has enjoyed listening to Handel while drifting off to sleep, and he says he particularily enjoys the sound of the flutes. Kallista has been dancing to the music through the house. And I’ve discovered that some music that I’ve always associated with England was actually written by a German, so we’ve all been learning.
Casey at the Bat
Casey at the Bat is a poem written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer over 100 years ago. I remember the name of the poem from friends who studied this poem in school, but I never did myself. Tristan was very interested in this choice because he liked the sample of music on the website, and he was interested in baseball even though it’s a sport he’s never seen.
Baseball isn’t common at all here and I’ve never seen a game in play. So to help the children have a full experience we bought them a ball and bat and they’re learning to play baseball.
This album comes with a 23 page booklet that includes the Casey at the Bat poem, a maze, crossword, word search and other activities. Casey at the Bat is recommended for children of all ages, though younger ones will need a little help with the activities.
Usually we just let the music play in the background as we go about our regular day, and I have wondered how much they have paid attention to the music and the stories. However, as I was asking the children tonight about their opinions Tristan started to recite from Casey at the Bat and told me his favourite phrase from it: “Mighty Casey is advancing to the bat. The sky is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow!” So it’s obvious that they have been learning!
Kallista’s favourite part of the Casey at the Bat album is the song “In a Cabin in a Wood”. She’s learned all of the words and actions to this classic song that I recall from my Girl Guide days. It’s explained how the tempo and style of the music can portray a mood or circumstance within a story and actually helps to tell it. Practicing this song together while acting out the scenes really helped my children understand more about music and this will no doubt carry over to other music in the future.
For every Maestro Classics album there are links to many activities that can be done to supplement each of the albums across history, science, geography, language arts, art,music and math. So these albums aren’t just for listening! There’s a plethora of learning to be done. Of course, my children’s favourite activity was making their own pretzels!
Each of the Maestro Classics CDs are priced at$16.98 for a physical disc, or they are available to download for less than $10.00 per disc. Considering the price of music these days, I find these to be very reasonable prices. We have certainly listened to our money’s worth and there’s no sign of the children slowing down with their requests to listen to the wonderful music.
All of us have really enjoyed both of these Maestro Classics albums. It’s wonderful to have found classical music for children that they enjoy. And even better, they can be used as a springboard to more learning fun.
If you’d like to keep up to date with Maestro Classics (affiliate link) you can find them on Facebook and Pinterest. To read more reviews from other Schoolhouse Review Crew members, simply click on the graphic below.