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Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock (CD and Teacher Guide) Review by Dawn Peterson

Maestro Orpheus Productions
Fire the Imagination
21 Suffolk Street West
Guelph, ON. n1h2h9

Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock CD tells the story of a ten-year-old boy named Fred and his musical adventure down the Corridor of Time with Maestro Orpheus, the winder of the World Clock. Along the way, Fred learns some valuable truths about time, memories, and, ultimately, cherishing the moments we are given.

When I sat down to listen to this story, just over an hour long, I expected to hear a tale that would engage young children. I hoped it would hold my interest too, but I wasn't expecting it. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it hold my children's interest (ages 10 and 7), it captured mine as well.

The story begins with Fred reluctantly visiting his grandfather. Fred complains about "all the old, broken clocks" his grandfather loves to work on, and as he tries to fall asleep one night, he finds he's restless and distracted by the ticking in his grandfather's house. When the clock in Fred's room strikes midnight, time stops, and everything becomes silent. As a perplexed Fred gets up to go investigate the mystery, he embarks on a dream-like adventure. He meets Maestro Orpheus, the man who must wind the World Clock in order to "keep time going." Fred, who wishes time would stop, learns that without time the entire world would stay the same. There would be no movement, no before or after, no now or then, no forever or yesterday or tomorrow. Nor would there be any music, because music helps us keep time.

The music throughout the CD is just delightful! If your children aren't familiar with classical composers, this is really a great place to begin! Woven throughout the storytelling are pieces by composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Janecek, Strauss, and Grieg. It's a great jumping off point for further study of the composers!

As the two journey down the corridor, Fred discovers that each of the doors has a date above it that represents the birth of a famous composer. As Fred opens each door, he learns of the composer's young life (note: the stories are fictional). As Fred and Maestro Orpheus continue on to their destination to wind The World Clock, they encounter The Door to a Timeless World, where time doesn't exist and everything stands still, and the Door to the End of Time, where time has run out. Without giving away the end of the story, Fred learns some very poignant and universal truths on his wonderful adventure. Maestro's parting words to Fred are, "Whenever you hear music, don't forget to remember."

The end of the story had me in tears! Being a mother and watching how very fast my children are growing up, I found it to be incredibly moving. My girls were riveted to it from beginning to end as well. When I asked my oldest daughter what she learned from the story, she replied, "That time is important."

The Teachers Guide accompanying the CD is quite thick for a one-hour story. It has story synopses that are organized by each track (or section) of the story, short descriptions of the composers and their music, pre-listening and post-listening questions, guided activity listening ideas, music connections that help the students to see music's effect on the story and identify moods and feelings that music can elicit, suggestions for activities and games, reproducible worksheets related to math and language and notes for four research projects. The product is designed for classroom use; however, it's a great resource for ideas and suggestions for further study.

Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock is such a beautifully woven story with timeless wisdom throughout. I highly recommend it!

Product review by: Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008