Last year I reviewed a really interesting recording designed as an educational tool for children, encouraging them to listen to classical music. As I’m sure you know by now, if you regularly read my blog, I’m always keen to highlight a project such as this because, in my opinion, children have relatively few opportunities to absorb classical music.
The recording is called Sheherazade, The Princess, the Pirate and the Baboon, released by Grandma Dingley’s Ingeniously Musical Tales. The CD is a subversive take on the 1001 Arabian Nights, set to Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Musician Matt Parry is the force behind the project which has just been added to Kickstarter. You can find out more here. Matt is hoping to transform the CD into a graphic novel and then produce a musical ebook, an interactive website, a creative musical app, some kids’ workshops and a live show. So with the help of Kickstarter, Matt will hopefully be able to get this very worthwhile project off the ground.
Here’s a clip from the CD followed by my review from April 2011:
Cuts in the education system have been the subject of much deliberation and debate over the past few months particularly with regard to musical education and instrumental lessons. In the light of all this dismal news here is a recording to warm the heart of any parent or teacher. A beautifully produced album of a witty and compelling children’s story set to classical music. There is no doubt that children of all ages will love it but so will adults.
Grandma Dingley’s Ingeniously Musical Tales have released a double disc recording of an entertaining, updated version of 1001 Arabian Nights set to Rimsky Korsakov’s masterpiece, Sheherazade op. 35. Creator Matt Parry (writer, producer and director) says: ‘As a music teacher I’m always looking for new ways to instill a love of classical music in young people. I conceived this idea whilst a student at the Royal Academy of Music and am now hugely excited to provide something that I feel has been missing: a modern and entertaining introduction to the orchestra that cunningly disguises its educational effect!’
A star line up of narrators includes Brian Blessed, Rory Bremner, Jess Murphy, Sam Morris and Nigel Garton and of course, Grandma Dingley herself. It is a ‘hairy tale of a princess, a sultan, a genie and a shipwreck, and an unlucky pirate who keeps getting transformed into a baboon!’ Grandma’s introductory narrative over a tuning orchestra is comical and immediately commands attention. Blessed shines as Sultan Shakriar and Bremner ‘s Sinbad is great fun. The orchestral playing is a highlight (all recorded at the Royal Academy of Music) but is necessarily subordinate to the story. It is the humour, wit and colour in the script, portrayed so effectively by the narrators that makes this double CD a winner.
There have been classical works written for children over the years: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Britten), Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saëns) and Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) to name but a few. This recording however, feels much more contemporary and in tune with the twenty first century child. It fits perfectly alongside favourites such as Toy Story 3 or Harry Potter, and will therefore be viewed as fun, exactly what Parry intended. Grandma Dingley is hoping the recording will be the first in a whole series, if this debut is anything to go by then we should all be in for a treat.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.