The Monday Musical series is a weekly feature on the blog each Monday. It details the musical we listened to the previous week, along with any additional resources we used or go-along activities we completed.
For week #6, we listened to Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
Our family loves the book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. It has been one of Luke’s favorite picture books for a long time now. I’d say it’s the ideal book for little boys, but Lilah is loving it just as much. The book is also part of the Five in a Row (FIAR) curriculum that we LOVE for its use of high-quality children’s literature. So imagine my thrill when I was contacted by Ruth from Maestro Classics about doing a review of their Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel story and music CD. I didn’t know much about Maestro Classics at the time, but figured anything featuring Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann would have to be good. Let me just say that was the understatement of the decade…
The CD is AMAZING!! It’s part of Maestro Classics “Stories in Music” series, so not only does it narrate the complete story of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (with an AWESOME narrator I might add!!), it features the LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA playing the musical score!!!! Take one amazing book, add one out-of-this-world symphony orchestra, and you get one really, really superb CD! I really can’t say enough good things about it; our entire family LOVES it!
If you go to the Maestro Classics website, you can listen to previews of all the tracks on the CD!
Introducing the Musical:
The CD arrived days before we were headed out on a multi-staged, two-week vacation, which would include multiple long car trips. While anticipating the CD’s arrival, we read the book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel several times to ready ourselves. We listened to the CD for the first time in the car, and both L&L listened intently. They really liked the sounds the steam engine, Mary Ann, made while she worked.
The Rest of the Week:
We listened to the CD many, many more times over the next two weeks. I’d probably say in excess of 20 times so far, and it hasn’t grown old for any of us–adults, or kids! The narration is truly excellent, and the music really makes the story come to life in ways I can’t put into words!
In addition to the story set to music, there are several other tracks to listen to on the CD as well — a track with information about the author, a Mike Mulligan song, a music lesson with the Maestro (Stephen Simon, the composer) which teaches you about this particular musical, a track that encourages you to prepare to perform, and a Mike Mulligan song sing-along. It’s all very interesting and informational, and the Mike Mulligan song is pretty catchy. We listened to the CD all the way through once or twice, and now listen to just the Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel track. I’m sure we’ll listen to the informational bits again in the future, though, especially as the children get a little older.
I was very, very pleased that in certain parts of the story, Luke (4yo) began to point out the trains, airplanes, and boats as he heard them in the music. You’d have to hear it to understand, but it really shows good listening and music appreciation that he was able to match the words of the narrated story to the story being expressed through the music. Those are his favorite parts.
I personally really like the parts where the symphony adds in bits from “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?” and “She’ll be coming around the mountain.”
Another part we all like is when Mike and Mary Ann are digging the cellar. The symphony orchestra really helps to build the excitement into their hurry to finish “in just one day!”
- I plan to continue to play this musical for L&L on occasion, and we’ll probably continue to keep it in the car for awhile, since I know I can get 18 minutes and 17 seconds of intense listening out of my 2 and 4 year olds when I need to. Sometimes they even request an immediate encore! It has really been a sanity-saver at times!
- I’ll probably eventually add the CD, along with L&L’s copy of the book, into their audio book listening area, which they make use of daily.
- I plan to use this CD and the go-along activities included in the 24-page activity book when we spend a week rowing Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as part of our Five in a Row (FIAR) curriculum. (The MP3 download version of the CD comes with a PDF of the activity booklet; it comes as an insert if you buy the CD.)
- I plan to check out more of the Maestro Classics “Stories in Music” CDs. Some others they have which look interesting to me are Peter & the Wolf, The Story of Swan Lake, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Casey at the Bat, The Tortoise and the Hare, and Juanita the Spanish Lobster. You can buy their albums in CD format, or as MP3 downloads. They’re also available through iTunes and Amazon.
More About Maestro Classics:
- Maestro Classics produces Stories in Music, a classical music CD series for children ages 5 to 12 and their parents. (My 2 and 4 year olds loved Mike Mulligan, so don’t let the 5 year old age limit throw you!!)
- The series features the London Philharmonic Orchestra and child-friendly, fun-filled stories and musical explanations.
- Educational for both children and adults, the series began as family concerts created by musical conductor Stephen Simon and his wife, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C.
- Their CDs have won over 45 national awards.
The giveaway will start today and run for two weeks. It is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY. I will choose a winner randomly via Rafflecopter within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway and contact the winner via email. Please add inlieuofpreschool (at) gmail (dot) com to your email contact list so that the potential “You’re a winner!” email doesn’t go to your SPAM folder! The winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address before a new winner is selected. Best of luck!!
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