Our family has long enjoyed listening to classical music. Learning about composers is made difficult with little children though, since preschoolers are not apt to sit down and listen to a long, dry book about a composer or a musical era. We have found the Classical Magic series of books and CDs to be the perfect way to incorporate both the "book learning" about classical music with the auditory portions.
Mrs. Persons' new book about Antonin Dvoøák contains all of our favorite elements from her previous works, but focuses on a single composer instead of a variety of composers and eras. This book and the accompanying CD actually focus on one specific composition, Symphony Number 9, "From the New World". Along with information about the movements and themes of the piece, the reader is given biographical information about Dvoøák. Rather than being subjected to dry, textbookish language, this book is filled with chatty comments that make the reader feel involved and interested. Mrs. Persons' tone and language make it easy for a parent or older child to read aloud to younger students and the fun illustrations keep things lively as you go.
Illustrations are repeated at the back of the book so teachers can create transparencies or use them for other educational purposes. (We like to make several copies of each and use them as coloring sheets!) Notations with lyrics are available for the musicians in the family. Listening guides for each movement are included as well. The bibliography will give you some places to start looking if you want to learn more about this composer. We definitely will!
After listening to the CD accompanying this book, my preschooler and I agree that we need to hit the library to hear some more Dvoøák. Our favorite track is from Movement 4-1, Chief Big Moon, Powwow. The drums and Native American-inspired music had us ready to dance right along like those at the local powwows we've attended! Mrs. Persons comments in this book, "Once you have learned the themes from each movement, you will find them going through your mind again and again." I tend to agree?thanks to this set from Classical Magic, as I write this I find myself distracted by thoughts of this Bohemian's versions of "The New World"!