I was super-duper excited to have a chance to review The Story of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics with my oldest daughter (8). Like many homeschooling moms I struggle to get music appreciation done, and since Swan Lake is pretty cannonical fare – particularly when it comes to ballets (and how many little girls can resist a ballerina?) I was excited to get started!
The Story of Swan Lake includes the main themes from the ballet along with narration that simply retells the story by Stephen Simon, conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (all the music is performed by them as well – really top notch stuff!) There are also bonus tracks including a shred guitar rendition of the main Swan Lake song, a sing-along song that serves as a mnemonic to help children remember the main plot of the ballet set to the main theme, and an ‘empty’ sing-along song so your child can do their own performance (and oh boy, did mine ever!)
The CD also comes with a very well-designed booklet filled with a pictogram type overview of the plot of Swan Lake, a connect the dots, word puzzles, lyrics to the sing-along, biographies of the contributors and a lot more. I’m not sure where ours is – my daughter made off with it and enthusiastically filled in every spot she could find to do an activity (it is consumable by the way).
The whole experience was incredible…except for one thing. This CD uses the revised ending of Swan Lake..you know…the one where the prince and the swan maiden both die in the end? Umm..recommended for ages 6-12, but if you have a sensitive little girl you MIGHT want to save this one for LATER. Interestingly, Tchaikovsky’s original ending was a happy one where the lovers survived and conquered the evil magician. Just saying.
With that being said, I am DEFINITELY interested in buying some of their downloads with less traumatic endings because they make music appreciation so easy. Despite being disturbed by the ballet’s end she still had to memorize the sing-along to perform for her grandparents when they came to visit – so cute :).
All of Maestro Classic’s music appreciation titles are available on CD for $16.98 or as MP3 downloads for $9.98 – you can find them all here and listen to free samples online too! They even have free cross-curricular lesson plans you can use to take the earning even further!
If you’d like to read more reviews of The Story of Swan Lake from real homeschooling moms, visit the TOS Crew post here and dig in!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this CD for the purposes of this review. All thoughts are genuine, and my own.