Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Peter and the Wolf - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In September the Schoolhouse Review Crew learned there was an upcoming review with Maestro ClassicsI previously got to review their The Story of Swan Lake, which I loved (but my student did not). However, this time one of the choices was Peter and the Wolf, which I really wanted. So, not knowing how it would go with my son, I requested the review and was included in the group doing reviews.
I received the CD in an nice jewel case, which included a nice little study guide. Peter and the Wolf is designed to be used with students aged 4 and up. (See my dilemma? My student is almost 16. He thought the last CD too juvenile.)
Peter and the Wolf contains 8 tracks:
  1. Introduction;
  2. Peter and the Wolf (with narration);
  3. About the Composer: Sergei Prokofiev;
  4. A Russian Peter;
  5. About the Music;
  6. Peter and the Wolf (Instrumental) (my favorite!);
  7. Invitation to Grandfather's Party;
  8. Kalinka
The Introduction explains the character represented by each instrument: Peter -- violins; the bird -- flute; the duck -- oboe; the cat -- clarinet; grandfather -- bassoon; the wolf -- three French horns; the hunters -- woodwinds; and the shooting of their guns -- timpany (kettle drums). The goal is to introduce children to instruments in the orchestra, working to help the students be able to identify which instrument they hear in any musical piece.

When the 3rd track started, I kept waiting for the narrator to talk about Tchaikovsky and how he was related to Prokofiev and the story. This never happened because Tchaikovsky is not related to Prokofiev or the story -- I have just had an adjustment to my own (bad public school) education. This also shows I still have more to learn even after 24 years of home schooling, even though we've studied orchestra since 1992 and have done composer studies since 2006. So, I listened to track 3 again, this time paying better attention (not saying in my head, "What about Tchaikovsky?").

It was interesting learning about the Russian Peter and the different instruments used in the Russian version -- the study guide had great information on this.

I wished, in the information given about Prokofiev, the narrator had told us if all went well with Prokofiev after he returned to Russia in the 1930s, and if his wife and child stayed there all their life (the wife was from Spain, and they had lived some time in the US).

I mentioned the study guide that comes with the Peter and the Wolf CD. It is very cute -- a consumable, geared toward students younger that mine. It is 24 pages long. It includes a "Match the Instruments" to the appropriate character.

It has information about the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, and teaches some Russian script.
It has the children identify some of the instrument mouthpieces,
and has a Dot-to-Dot.
There is information about the Trio Voronezh (pictured above with their Russian instruments, as well as information about their instruments: the balalaika, the banyan (like an accordion, but not), and the domra. There is a musical score for Peter's Tune that I need to try to play on my recorder!

There is a "Crack the Code!" page a Word Search,
and a Musical Question. There is a crossword puzzle (sorry my photo is blurry!).
The last page introduces Stephen Simon, Yadu, and Bonnie Ward Simon, who all worked on the CD. Ms. Simon also has a video about Peter and the Wolf on YouTube that I am embedding below.

The booklet also highlights other CDs available from Maestro Classics.
Our Experience:
In light of my son's previous experience and reaction with The Story of Swan Lake, I made a specific plan for how to use Peter and the Wolf.  Taking the CD out to the van, I made a point, first, of listening through the entire CD during moments when I was out, alone, doing errands. Then, at an opportune time, I played the orchestral track for my son to hear, and began explaining to him that the music tells a story, the violins represent Peter, etc.

My son did enjoy that orchestral version, as I knew he would. I could not remember what each of the instruments represented, so he was then interested enough to listen as Yadu (a.k.a. Dr. Konrad Cynski) explained the correlation. (I didn't like the way Yadu seemed to talk "down" to the children the way one would never speak to an adult. I know that is one think my children have also never been tolerant of.)

One day, on the way to Civil Air Patrol, we were giving another cadet a ride. I put the music in for us to listen to on the way to the meeting. Richie (the other cadet) was so funny! He said, "I feel like I'm getting smarter just listening to this!" Great comment! I loved it.

Late into our review period I learned the Maestro Classics CDs also (often) come with a curriculum guide. I got the link and downloaded my guide, but I did not use it or even look at it yet, so I can't tell you about it. It's free.

Since my last student is approaching college in a few years, I will probably hold on to this CD for a couple of years and then pass it along to another home school family. I am happy to have had the opportunity to review it. I love Peter and the Wolf!

Other members of the Review Crew also reviewed Maestro Classics CDs, both Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.
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