I don't do this very often, but this post is going to be a product review. The Juno Company sent me a DVD of The Day the Music Stopped. It is part of a music education series aimed at preschoolers. Since the craziness of Christmas has passed, we (the younger part of my crew and I) had a chance to sit down today to watch it together.
The premise is that Juno and her little brother RaiRai take an imaginary trip to the town of Harmonia Springs where they meet their real live pets in cartoon form. Through a series of events, the button on the Shush Machine is pushed causing the music to stop and Juno and her friends learn about how music is made so they can make their own.
So what did we all think? Well, it is definitely aimed at preschoolers. The 7 and 8 year old boys watched it because it was there, but let's just say they weren't entranced. K. on the other hand enjoyed it... plus it had a train which always strikes his fancy. And what did I as a parent and music educator think? Well, first off, I should admit that my tolerance for much of what is aimed at preschoolers and young children is very low. I find most of it too cutesy and saccharine, often speaking to young children as though they are impaired. This avoided some of that, though I found the characters' voices to be a bit annoying. Why can't characters who speak to children speak in a normal voice? But on the whole this is my biggest quibble. My smaller quibble is that it was difficult to understand these slightly odd voices when they were singing which became a problem because some of the content about the musical concepts was heard only in the songs.
It was visually clever with the town of Harmonia Springs made of instruments and musical signs. I also liked that orchestral music, both new and from the symphonic repertoire, was used as the background to the songs. The content, teaching about the concepts of melody, rhythm, and harmony was age-appropriate and accurate. By far my favorite part was the section on harmony, illustrated by the singing frogs. It was clever and the music was enjoyable to listen to.
I think this DVD is fine for what it is... mainly preschool entertainment with some educational bits thrown in. I would be unlikely to spend my money on it, but as I said, I don't buy preschool videos in general. I believe that children (even preschoolers) can learn from "real" things: books, music, art, and enjoy it without having the cute factor added in. I have planned a unit on the orchestra for later on this winter and I plan on using both The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Peter and the Wolf as our resources. I fully expect K. (my preschooler) to join us and learn from it.
On a completely unrelated note. If you are a homeschooler and are looking for a way to connect with other homeschoolers, The Homeschool Village is setting up what they are calling 5:11 groups. Why 5:11?? Don't worry - you do not have to wake at 5:11. Rather God has already encouraged us to get together at 5:11!! 1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up"
5:11 Groups will consist of 3-4 homeschool moms - who contact each other at least once weekly! Every Tuesday we will post a "group question" for those groups to discuss and share some time interacting during the week.
If you are interested head over to The Homeschool Village and send them an email and they will connect you.