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Peggy's Violin CD and Teacher's Guide Review by Cindy West

Peggy Hills, Olivia McGuire
The Children's Group, Inc.
Tel 888-780-0864
21 Suffolk St West
Guelph, ON N1H 2H9

Oh, how I've enjoyed this product! Peggy's Violin, A Butterfly in Time is a story on CD told from the perspective of a Butterfly violin, made by Giovanni Grancino in 1702. The violin experiences many adventures in its long life. In real life, the violin belongs to the author, Peggy Hills, who has woven a magical tale of the life the violin may have lived over the past 300 years!

The story is intertwined with marvelous classical music that supports the storyline and sound effects that add great excitement to the story. With all the wonderful details of life and music in the various time periods throughout the story, I believe you could fairly label it as historical fiction. Living literature it is for sure! With ten "scenes" (18 tracks), this 45-minute CD will be time well spent for almost anyone over the age of four or five.

Also included with the CD is a Teacher's Guide that can easily turn this product into a unit study of classical music, composers, and instruments. It provides a synopsis of the story and an entire teaching section for each scene of the story, including background information concerning the scene and several pages of ideas for discussions and activities. Scattered throughout are historical bits of information, map ideas, geographical information, musical terms, and many writing ideas.

Composers covered include Pachelbel, Marcello, Vivaldi, Brahms, Bach, and more. Some of the compositions included are Canon, Seasons Concerto, Hungarian Dance #5, Caprice Viennois, and more. The activities might ask the student to clap the rhythm of a line of music, to draw a picture of a violin after learning about it, or to compare modern clothing to the clothing of Paris in the 1800s. Using the teaching material in full will cover many academic areas!

As a bonus, there is a section of pre-listening questions and comprehension questions that go along with each scene. An answer key is provided. A brief but clear explanation is given in this section about the differences between the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern movements.

Whether you choose to listen the CD as part of a unit or simply enjoy the story, I'm rather sure your heart will be warmed by the violin and its life.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008