Friday, May 31, 2013

Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music from The Secret Mountain -- Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this CD/Book from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

New from The Secret Moutain...

BOOK Throughout history birds have caught the imagination of composers and inspired their creativity and this selection of works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and others introduces children to classical music through the discovery of the melodious similarities between notes produced by instruments such as the flute, the organ, and the harpsichord and the birds’ songs. In addition to lovely illustrations, the book features a glossary of musical terms, a short biography of each composer, and a brief description of each bird evoked or mentioned in the composition.

MUSIC CD The accompanying CD offers excerpts of 20 different recordings—ranging from The Goldfinch, Hens and Roosters, and The Dance of the Swans to The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, Piano Concerto N, and Dance of the Firebird—performed by world-class luminaries including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Chamber Orchestra.

Ages: 7 to 9 / U.S. Release date: June 1, 2013 / Canadian Release Date: May 28, 2013


My Thoughts:

I have been a fan of The Secret Mountain for quite some time, and love their books with accompanying CD releases.  Our family favorite thus far has been "A Duck in New York City," which the girls have me read to them each night at bedtime, and the catchy song has become one that Savannah learned word for word, and loves to sing with me.  So, when I recently heard about "Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music" begin released by The Secret Mountain, I had to get my hands on a copy to review.  

For the past year, we have enrolled in the local Music Together class, as a way to introduce the girls to music, as well as socialize with other children.  I never expected my girls, especially my 18 month old to love these classes, and look forward to them every Saturday morning.  Not only are they learning about rhythm and sounds, but through repetition at home and at this 45 minute class each week, the girls are able to learn and sing the songs.  I have seen Arabella's vocabulary expand so quickly as a result of this class, as she began talking at 9 months.

Because of the positive reaction of this music class on the girls, I wanted to expand their musical knowledge by sharing various musical styles, including classical music.  I was first introduced to classical music back in middle school, when my 6th/7th grade science teacher would play classical music while the class took exams.  She said that the music would help us relax and make us better test takers. From that point on, I found myself picking up classical music to play when I was stressed and looking for a way to relax and unwind.  There is something about classical music that can bring a sense of calm over me, even on the most hectic of days.

I couldn't wait to see what the girls' reaction would be when I played the accompanying CD to the "Listen to the Birds" book.  Like the other The Secret Mountain books, the girls and I loved the illustrations in the book.  We first flipped through the pages of the book to admire the breathtaking illustrations.  The girls kept stopping me, so that they could point out the different birds.  When it came time to reading about the different birds and the composers and their musical pieces that reference each particular birds, the girls couldn't get enough.  I would read each brief bird/composer description, and then follow up by playing the song that correlated to this excerpt.  

With 20 different recordings to accompany the excerpts in this book, I found this to be a great introduction to classical music for my girls.  I loved how I could pick and choose the songs I shared with them, as they related the excerpts in the book.  To not overwhelm the girls, I began introducing them to this book and the classic music accompaniments by only sharing 2-3 excerpts and songs at a time.  After the songs were done playing, I would talk about the different instruments and sounds they heard, and ask what they thought of it.  Savannah was more vocal on her thoughts, and would tell me which were her favorites, and which weren't.  Some were too slow for her, and would make her attention wonder to something else in the room.

Here are the twenty tracks that make up the accompanying CD:

The Goldfinch by Vivaldi

La Primavera by Vivaldi

The Song of the Birds by Janequin

Melancholy by Rautavaara

The Bird (Peter and the Wolf) by Prokofiev

Hens and Roosters (The Carnival of the Animals) by Saint-Saens

Aviary  (The Carnival of the Animals) by Saint-Saens

The Swan  (The Carnival of the Animals) by Saint-Saens

Dance of the Swans (Swan Lake) by Tchaikovsky

Song for the Lark (The Seasons- Album for Children) by Tchaikovsky

The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams

Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks by Mussorgsky

Toccata Con Lo Scherzo Del Cucco by Pasquini

The Cuckoo and the Nightingale by Handel

The Robin by Messiaen

Papageno and Papagena (The Magic Flute) by W.A. Mozart

Piano Concerto No. 17 by W.A. Mozart

The Raven by Schubert

Dance of the Firebird by Stravinsky

Toy Symphony by L. Mozart

Overall, this is a great book/CD set that makes learning about classical music fun for kids.  They will also have fun learning about birds at the same time, as they admire the beautiful illustrations that make up this book.  As for Arabella, I found this CD to be very relaxing for her, and it has helped to lull her bed.  I simply put this CD on, and by the time the fourth of fifth song begins to play, she had drifted off to sleep. :-)



One lucky reader will win a copy of "Listen to the Birds" book and CD from the kind folks at The Secret Mountain.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author:

Ana Gerhard studied as a concert pianist at the Mexican National Conservatory. She has taught piano for several years and has hosted numerous radio programs dedicated to the promotion of classical music.

About the Illustrator:

Cecilia Varela studied at the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires. She has illustrated several children’s books and received the prestigious 2007 Conaculta Award (The National Council for Culture and Arts in Mexico) in recognition of her work.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this CD/Book from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.


  1. A duck in New York city.

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