Review: The Nutcracker ~ Stories in Music

The Nutcracker by Maestro Classics_zpsbe6mbswh

Maestro Classics offered us the opportunity to review their cd and activity book, The Nutcracker.  They sent us the cd in a nice case and an activity book.  This would make a great Christmas gift for a family!

Have you ever heard Jim Weiss tell a story?  If not, stop reading this, grab your kiddos, and listen to this story!

We are huge fans of his, and own several of his recordings.  He makes the stories come alive!   I was excited to see that he was the narrator for The Nutcracker.  He also wrote the script himself.

I loved the idea of having a script to go along with the dance and music.  The Nutcracker story is famous through history, and it’s always a treat to see it performed live.  This cd is a great opportunity to introduce our kids to the story, and expose them to the beauty of classical music in a way that helps them stay engaged.

This rendition of The Nutcracker is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Simon, and it is beautiful.   I’ll listen to it in the car without the kids. 🙂 🙂

The cd is about an hour long and includes 21 tracks.
Tracks 1- 7: Christmas Party
Track 8: Good Night – The Christmas Tree Grows
Track 9: Battle with the Mouse King
Track 10: Nutcracker Becomes Handsome Prince
Track 11: Snowflakes
Track 12 – 19: Land of the Sweets – Dances
Tracks 20 – 21: Sugar Plum Fairy

Each track includes Jim Weiss’ narration, to help the kids “see” what is happening on stage.  I love that he doesn’t talk the whole time.  Instead, he shares some descriptions of what’s happening, and then allows the music to carry the story.  His script is perfect to give the kids a feel for the scenes, and then sets their imaginations free to discover the rest.

The Activity Guide, which fits in a neat pocket inside the cd case, includes a detailed list of each of the scenes, naming the dances and giving a table of contents for the cd.   Next, it has a history of ballet, and then a picture of the staff and music notes of a couple lines of the Overture.  I love that they include that, because our kids can get a glimpse of how complicated the music is!   (They’re learning to play the tin whistle right now as a part of Classical Conversations, and are working on basic music theory.)   The activity guide gives some background on the harp, its history, and how it works.  Next, it gives history on Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, the composer of The Nutcracker.  The guide finishes with a couple of fun games – a word scramble and a crossword puzzle.

The Maestro Classics website also offers a homeschool curriculum guide for free download!  It covers Ballet, History & Geography, Science, Language Arts, Art, Music, and Math.  They also offer a variety of other Stories in Music including Peter and the Wolf, Casey at the Bat, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Story of Swan Lake, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and more!

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