Maestro Classics {TOS Crew Review}

Are you a music lover?  Recently as part of the TOS Crew we got to review a new product.  We received a physical CD of The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to actually see the Nutcracker.  I’ve played pieces from it on flute and piano and have fallen in love with the music.  I was very excited to be able to share that with my children.

Maestro Classics Review
Maestro Classics began in 2004 as Magic Maestro Music.  In the 11 years that they have been in business they have produced 12 different cd’s of classical works.  The music is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  You have the option of purchasing a CD or a download(MP3).  They also offer a downloadable study guide to go with The Nutcracker which is a great resource if you’re looking to go a bit more in-depth into the story and the music.

Included with our physical CD was an insert.  It’s 24 pages in length and contains an outline of the story of the Nutcracker, music from the musical, a history of ballet(because who doesn’t want to learn about ballet too), the history of the harp(really neat), information about Tchaikovsky, and a few fun activities(word scramble/crossword puzzle).  There is really a lot of information packed into that little insert.  

The Nutcracker is narrated by Jim Weiss.  His narration does not take away from the wonderful music, but rather adds another dimension that really helps you get into the story and the music.  My kids and I were enthralled by his voice and the story he wove.  The music is of course that of Tchaikovsky and is adapted by Stephen Simon.  The music is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and they do a superb job.  They are conducted by Stephen Simon.

Maestro Classics Review
My girls have taken a ballet class over the summer and were really interested in the fact that this is a piece that ballet dancers dance to and that it is really a well-known piece.  We had to find a version to watch of course!  There are several versions out there and some even free for viewing.  We ended up watching the Barbie version as they are in love with all the Barbie movies these days.  

Because I love study guides, we did download the curriculum guide off the website for free and use it during our little study.  There are several subjects listed out under the study guide for The Nutcracker.  You can download them one at a time or all at once.  I downloaded them all at once and then used them as I wanted.  The subjects you can choose from are Ballet, History and Geography, Science, Language Arts, Art, Music, and Math.  I love of course that I’m not having to come up with the study guide(unit study) to go with this!  I love to do unit studies and include as much information for my kids to learn as possible.

We have had such fun with this classical music cd!  As a family we have listened to it several times in its entirety.  We have also broken it down into segments and talked in detail about what is going on and who the music makes us feel.  How music moving fast makes us excited and lets us know something is happening.  Music slow allows us to relax.  So much can actually be conveyed with music and I enjoyed sharing that with my kids.

Interested in learning more about Maestro Classics?  Check out the Main Blog Post on the TOS Crew blog.  Reviewers received either The Nutcracker or Peter and the Wolf.  You can also find Maestro Classics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  

 

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WOW Brick Giveaway ends 1-15

Okay guys!  I don’t know about you but I want to start 2015 out right!  And that means I want to make sure I’m not listening to stuff that is going to have a negative affect on me.  That’s where Family Christian come in!  They are offering 9 WOW Brick sets for Giveaway!  That’s right a WOW Brick Giveaway!

 

wow cd

Whats a WOW brick?  Well I’m glad you asked!  WOW Hits 2015 is the CD.  It’s a great collection of some of the top Christian artists and their record breaking hits.  But that’s not what makes it a brick.  It is a brick because Family Christian is going to send you this cd AND a cd of each of the artists on the CD!!!  Wow is right!  Got your attention now don’t I?

Want to hear more?  Well you can buy the CD here through Family Christian(and my affiliate link) or you can enter to win one of the 9 sets that they’re giving away!!  I say enter to win!  Giveaway will end at midnight on January 15th (1-15-15) so make sure to come back and do the daily entries as well as share away!  If you’re not a winner come back and go through to purchase the cd.  You’ll love it.  It’s a great compilation of some of the biggest Christian hits.  

It’s pretty simple.  Just enter below and you’re in!

 

 
Use the entry form above and get entered!  I don’t know about you but I’d love to win one!  Here’s more information about what’s on the CD!
 
It’s two discs full of amazing music.  Here is what you’ll be hearing!  And don’t forget the BIG BONUS from Family Christian of a CD from each artist!  This is going to be an amazing giveaway.  Open to US Residents age 18 and older only.
 
Disc One:
We Believe – newsboys
The Only Name (Yours Will Be) – Big Daddy Weave
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) [Album Edit] – United
Thrive – Casting Crowns
Do Something (Radio Version) – Matthew West
Back To You – Mandisa
Keep Making Me – Sidewalk Prophets
I Am – Crowder
Waterfall – Chris Tomlin
All The People Said Amen – Matt Maher
Shake – MercyMe
You Won’t Let Go – Michael W. Smith
My Heart Is Yours (Radio Version) – Passion (featuring Kristian Stanfill)
Glorious Unfolding (Radio Edit) – Steven Curtis Chapman
Forever (Radio Version) – Kari Jobe
BONUS: I Will Follow – Jon Guerra
BONUS: Beautiful – Dan Bremnes

Disc Two:
This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham
Fix My Eyes – for KING & COUNTRY
Speak Life – tobyMac
Beautiful Day – Jamie Grace
Multiplied – NEEDTOBREATHE
More Of You – Colton Dixon
Write Your Story – Francesca Battistelli
No Man Is An Island – Tenth Avenue North
Press On – Building 429 (featuring Blanca Callahan)
Come Alive – Jeremy Camp
Alive (Radio Version) – Young & Free
Love Alone Is Worth The Fight – Switchfoot
Don’t Deserve You – Plumb
Your Love Is Like A River – Third Day
He Is With Us – Love & The Outcome
BONUS: Satisfied – About A Mile 
 

Happy Kids Songs #hsreviews

Do your kids like music?  Would you like them to learn more about manners?  Well we recently reviewed some products from Happy Kids Songs that fill all of those categories.  Don’t think that’s right?  Well keep reading and find out!

Happy Kids Songs Review
We received downloads for three cd’s as well as a workbook.  The Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills was a great resource to use along with the songs.  In fact, I really enjoyed just using a page or two of that as well as listening to whichever songs we wanted that morning.  They have 8 different albums of music to listen to.  We received three to review.  Those three are:  Friends & Sharing (Set 1), Happiness & Attitude (Set 5), and Manners & Character (Set 6).

Happy Kids Songs Review
Now a bit more information for you.  The music is geared towards ages 4-8.   Each of the sets we received to download had 5 songs on them.  So we have a total of 15 songs to listen to.  These are downloaded to your computer and from there you can just listen to them, transfer them to a cd, or even put them on your mp3/phone.  Now, I said you can do those things.  I am not technologically that great, so I just downloaded them to my computer and we listened to them from there.  

Currently, the workbook can be purchased for $12.56 while the song sets are available for $4.95 each.  Or, you can purchase the songs from the song set individually for 99 cents each.  

As I stated above, each of the downloads has a set theme.  I’ll share that with you here!

Song Set One:  Friends and Sharing – This song set has five songs about the importance of friendship.  It teaches how to reach out to others, including others in your play, saying goodbye, being happy with friends even when you disagree, and sharing time together.  The songs included are:

  • Sailing on the Seven C’s
  • Everybody Wants to Find a Friend
  • Sharing Friends
  • Happy as Can Be
  • Together

The next set we received was Song Set Five: Happiness and Attitude – This is a big one in our house!   It even tends to make me remember to check my own attitude daily.  This album focuses on thinking positively, giving compliments, paths to get to happiness, handling limitations, and how to handle the transition from being with friends to being without them.  The songs on this set are:

  • Shake it Out and Dance
  • Who Knows What’s a Kudo
  • I Don’t Understand
  • Be Good to Yourself
  • Better Together

The last set we received for review was Song Set Six: Manners and Character – This one shares about the value of honesty, saying please and learning to use your manners properly, being considerate, how to appreciate the differences in others, and honoring multiple perspectives.  The songs on this set are:

  • H-O-N-E-S-T-Y
  • The Magic Word
  • Quirks
  • The Golden Rule
  • Six Little Kids

Happy Kids Songs Review
I am very picky about what music my children listen to.  I wasn’t before.  I have always loved country music.  We listened to it a lot around our house.  I love to have music to listen to as we are doing things, like cleaning!  For some reason music just makes cleaning more fun!  Anyway, I would listen to country music while cleaning.  But then my kids started singing those songs.  They’d be playing and start singing songs.  Those songs they were singing were not ones that I wanted them to sing.  So then I switched to primarily some of my Celtic music.  Celtic music is a love of mine and I thought it would be okay.  I had never really noticed anything wrong with it before.  And then my song started singing a song about being a heartbreaker.  And again I knew that this music was going to have to go.  

Happy Kids Songs Review
I was at the point to go to solely Christian music.  So we listened to a Christian radio station on the computer.  We don’t have a working radio or even a working cd player in our house anymore.  Ours quit and we didn’t have the money to replace it and decided it was not a necessity.  It was then that I realized if I wanted to listen to cd’s that our blu ray player could accommodate that.  So, we listen to Christian music all the time now!  I have a few favorite stations to listen to on the computer or we have some praise cd’s that the kids and I enjoy.  We also have some children’s adventure cd’s and books on cd that the kids enjoy.

Happy Kids Songs Review
That brings me to this series of music.  Not only is this fun Christian music for kids, but it packs a good message as well.  The song sets teach something.  They do more than sing and put catchy lyrics into your head.  They teach.  They teach your child about having friends and sharing.  About happiness and how your attitude will affect your own happiness as well as those around you.  The last set talks about manners and character.  Of course, I don’t know about your children, but mine need reminders in the manners category more than I care to think of.  

Happy Kids Songs Review
 

Some other points to make.  You can copy from the workbook.  That’s right.  Whether you have one or ten kids you can use workbook pages with them all from the same workbook.  That is always a huge money saver for us when the copyright of a product allows for copying.  And of course, once you download the song sets to your computer you can do what you want with them.  You can put them on a cd to use in the vehicle or if your child has a listening device like an mp3 you can put them on that.  I personally just used the computer to play the songs when we wanted to listen to them.  My only complaint was that the song sets were not long enough and they would end way too quickly! 

When you download the song sets, you also get the lyrics and a free PDF workpage for the kids to do.  The workbook we received contained all that comes with the downloads but also much more!  It’s a great resource and one I would definitely recommend purchasing in addition to the downloads.

The songs are cute and upbeat.  They keep my children’s attention.  My kids like to sing them.  And best of all!  My kids are learning from them.  I love that they are walking around and playing singing these cute songs that have an awesome message.  What mother doesn’t want her kids singing about sharing and having good manners?  This sinks in and they soon begin to model what the songs are saying as well.  Great way to get music and manners into your classroom!

Want to learn more about these song sets?  Check out the Main Crew Blog Post to read what all of the other reviewers thought.  You can also find them on facebook, twitter, and youtube

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Learn Piano at Home -No Matter Your Age!

Homeschool Piano Review
 

Recently our family received a lifetime subscription to HomeschoolPiano as a review through the TOS Crew.  The main gist of this program is that you can learn piano at home at your own pace.  What we received gives us access to everything!  It’s the HomeSchoolPiano – Complete Set of Books which lets us learn piano from the very beginning to a very advanced stage!  All online and all available when we are ready to learn it!

Willie Myette created the program and does all the lessons.  My kids found him funny and enjoyed watching and listening to him.  It’s awesome that they wanted to learn from him and I loved that he seemed to try to connect with his students even though he couldn’t interact with them.  

 

Homeschool Piano Review
The program is based on a six step process.

  1. technique-  Technique is important and they choose to make it the building block upon which everything goes.  The first thing you learn is speed and dexterity.  This step is what kept some of mine and what others sped through.  I think what the skill level or rather the developmental level of your student may determine this.  I found that some of my kids who have not gained the best motor functions stayed in this area the longest.
  2. rhythm-  Rhythm is the engine of music.  You gotta have rhythm!  Whoohoo!  A vocalization of rhythm helps them to hear and internalize the rhythms so they can play them perfectly.  I think rhythm is one of my favorite parts of music!
  3. ear training-  This.  This is why I knew that I would never be able to teach my kids how to play music.  I’m tone deaf.  One hundred percent tone deaf.  My husband plays by ear and I’m tone deaf.  Interesting combination.  This area helps the kids to learn to hear rhythm, melody and harmony.  You gotta have those if you’re going to succeed at improvisation.  I could never do improv which really is one of the reasons that I quit taking lessons.  I was at a brick wall.
  4. reading music-  This is something I’m great at!  It teaches sight reading so you can quickly read and play as well.  It has a step by step approach to learning how to read music which leads to learn and then compose your own.  I know for me I did a lot of practice with sight reading so that I would be able to read and play without making mistakes.
  5. song-  This is so fun.  You don’t just play “theory” or scales over and over.  You start out playing real music.  Yes it’s simple music and just one or two bars, but it’s music!  This really helped my kids want to continue because they were actually already doing something.
  6. improvisation- Yikes.  This is the hard one for me.  You have to read to read music and play songs before you can improv.  This is where you go into yourself and bring out the inner music.  I don’t fully understand this because I am tone deaf and it all sounds the same to me except the rhythms.  

This program works well for . . . . well. . . . . everyone!  It is suitable for all ages which is pretty awesome!  My kids can learn and I can refresh on what I learned a long time ago.  That to me is wonderful!  I am definitely rusty as I quit taking lessons when I was in high school.  I would love to be able to play more.  My kids are loving to learn piano and I love how easy it is.  We can do lessons around our schoolwork or around naps, etc.

So since I’ve hit on it already, our favorite part(or my favorite part) of this piano program is that it is totally flexible.  We didn’t have to do it all at the same time each day.  We could simply pop on when we had some time and do one lesson or ten!  You move at your own pace.

We started at the beginning.   Yes we have done some piano before.  So yes, they were not totally without any piano knowledge, but I wanted them to at least have a bit of refresher with this.  So one of the first things we did was find middle c on the piano.  Really no reason to touch the keys before then!

Our setup is simple as well.  We have a piano.  Solid wood, passed to us from another, think we’re probably the fourth or fifth owner.  We had it tuned and some keys unstuck when we took possession of it and it has served us well.  The piano sits on a wall in our living room being really the center focal point.  Above the piano is a shelf for our vcr/bluray and home phones.  Above this is our television mounted to the wall.  My laptop computer sits on the “media” shelf as well.  This makes it easy for me too hook up the html cable from the laptop to the computer so my kids can all watch the lessons at the same time.  Once the kids are at a point that they are doing individual lessons and need to see the lessons and be at the piano at the same time, we merely go back to the laptop and place it on the piano.  Tada!  Super simple and great for us!

learn piano at home

Our piano set up!

The lessons are short.  I mean really short.  The longest one is less than 10 minutes.  You can do more than one lesson a day in the beginning.  My kids all started at the VERY beginning.  The CORE.  It starts out teaching the basics.  Teaches them about the keys, where middle C is, what the alphabet of music is and how to use it.  Then it works up to scales and what the notes are and how long to hold them.  It does it in such a way that it’s fun and hold the kids attention.  They retain what they learn because they only learn one small thing at a time.  

learning piano at home

Focusing on playing just one note but different lengths and rhythms.

 

There are 33 lessons in the CORE section.  Super easy and short.  It really didn’t take long for some of my kids to get through this section.  We’ve done some piano before and they pick things up quickly as well.  

Homeschool Piano Review
Book 1 has six units.  Each unit has seven lessons.  You can repeat lessons as you need to.  You then also have book 2 and book 3.  There are six units in each of the other two books as well.  By the end of the books you will be playing arpeggios and creating your own songs.  My children have not made it that far yet.  I have some in the CORE still and some in book 1.  I have dabbled in it some as well.  For me I went into book 3 as I had already taken several years of lessons.  I enjoyed sharpening my skills again and can see where I will be able to learn more.  I would love to find a way to help myself with improvisation through the course.

Homeschool Piano Review
There are two ways to sign up for this service.  You can use the success package which is a one time payment of $299.  With this you get unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.   Great deal!  Or you can choose option 2 which is a payment plan.  Over a course of 3 months you pay $99.97 per month.  You get the same access with the payment plan as you do with the one time payment.

Homeschool Piano Review
Want to learn more about HomeSchoolPiano?  You can check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Or if you’re interested in learning more about what other Crew members thought of the program check out the Main Crew Blog for more reviews!  We all had the same program to review but definitely had different experiences with it!

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Online Piano Lessons for Preschoolers with KinderBach

Kinderbach Review

Recently as part of our TOS Crew selection we reviewed online piano lessons for preschoolers by KinderBach.  We received the The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner for our review.  This is best designed for ages 3-7 and helps to encourage the basics of music to children.  No experience with piano or reading music is required for using this program.  I did use this with a variety of ages in our house.  I really let all of my kids use it or watch it and learn as much as they could.  We have from 9 years down to 9 months.  I say it can work for older than 7 well but those that are older than 7 probably could use another program just as easily.  They in my opinion(at least with my 9 year old) did not need the cute characters.  Those same cute characters though were what really helped my learning challenged 7 year old to grasp things that she just wasn’t getting any other way.

The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner can be purchased for a special price at the time of this post for $95.88/year (works out to $7.99/month – regular price $130/year). They offer a Free 2 Week Trial and 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.

Nursery Rhymes 1

KinderBach can be used in schools or at home.  With my access I got access to the Teacher’s Corner as well.  I have to say going into the Teacher Corner was my favorite!  In the Teacher Corner there is access to coloring pages, songbooks(with audios), student books, teacher books, aid books, and so much more.  It is really a treasure chest just waiting to be explored.

While I reviewed the online version, there are also DVD’s available(priced at $19.95) if you don’t want to watch them online.  I did not receive any DVD’s as part of this review so cannot tell you anything about the quality of those.  There are also apps available for the iPad and iPhone.  We don’t have smart phones or devices so I didn’t really look at that, but if you do you might want to check it out along with the free trial membership.  

My kids enjoyed getting to learn with the characters.  Each note has a character, so each key has a character.  The “music” that they get to play isn’t necessarily on lines and staffs like we’re used to, but rather characters in the form of a train chugging along the tracks.  It is really the simples of music, but they are still learning what you need to know of the basics and more importantly it’s fun!

These characters teach your child note reading, rhythm, composition, and singing.  I personally grew up playing the piano but knew that I could never teach my children how to play because I am tone deaf.  Yeap, you read that right, I played piano for over 10 years(taking lessons too) with being 100% tone deaf.  My husband on the other hand plays totally by ear and can’t read music.  We talked about teaming up to teach the kids but just never had the time.  

KinderBach gave us the time.  Through their cute little videos(which are really short) and coloring pages/activities, my kids can play simple songs on the piano.  There are currently 6 levels of lessons which equal out to 60 weeks worth of lessons.  The lessons are interactive and engaging for your child.  I say child, but more than one child can use this at a time.  Since it is ideally for children ages 3-7 there is a great age range to work with.  There are also 240 videos as well as several downloadable song books, activity sheets, and coloring pages.

This program gets my seal of approval.  My kids loved it!  We used it daily Monday through Friday for the review period except for a week we took off due to our house fire for cleaning etc.  It doesn’t take long to do, but what they learn they can easily keep practicing and racking up the hours with.  My kids didn’t have to have a keyboard to do their practicing either.  We’d print out some of the handy little “train” worksheets and they could practice their finger placement and tapping one finger at a time.  That for us was a major issue with some of the kids.   They just don’t have the fine motor that they should have and using only one finger at a time or using that finger hard enough to put down a key was not always happening.  

You can get a keyboard to use next to your computer or we were a bit more inventive, tech savvy, whatever you want to call it.  We have an older laptop that the screen no longer works on.  Combine this with an htmi cable and our television and tada!  Everyone can watch at the same time AND take turns sitting at the piano.  We pulled out all the stops too because I wanted all my kids to work on this.  We worked on rhythm with pots and pans and wooden spoons.  That of course was much fun.  Even the 8 month old had fun keeping rhythm with a wooden spoon and a pot.  I have to say she’s pretty good!  

So, in conclusion, we in our house totally adore KinderBach!  We fully recommend them and think they’re  a great addition to any preschool homeschool program.  Make sure to check them out and see for yourself with their free trial and free printables.  My kids can play simple tunes on the piano without “reading” music, they also know what the keys are thanks to the cute characters that were used for each note.  While cute and fun it teaches which is all a mommy can ask for.

Use the banner below or click HERE to go read more reviews from members of the TOS Crew review team who also got to try out this unique little program for teaching online piano lessons for preschoolers with KinderBach.  Make sure to check them out on facebook, twitter, youtube, and pinterest as well.

 

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