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Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! Hardcover – October 2, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-8-Orchestra Bob guides readers through a delightful musical journey. The book is divided into two major parts: composers from Vivaldi to Bernstein and their associated musical periods, and the instruments of the orchestra. There are interesting and sometimes humorous bits of information about the men, their music, and corresponding historical events. The last two pages introduce the conductor. Quotations, boxed definitions, and the captions that accompany the colorful photos and spot cartoon drawings enhance the instructive text. In some places, however, the drawings are in stark contrast to the photos and take away from the overall appearance of a page. An accompanying CD provides musical selections for readers to listen to at specific places in the text. These selections are short enough to keep young listeners' attention. Although some well-known figures, such as Handel, Schubert, and Strauss, are missing, this is a fun way to travel through the world of music.

Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Orchestra Bob--a dapper figure in a dove-gray tux--introduces young people first to the development and history of orchestral music and a number of famous composers and then to the instruments of the orchestra by section. Each page or two is keyed to a brief selection on an accompanying CD that illustrates the musical idea or instrument discussed. Text and images are extremely lively: the drawings are whimsical and often amusing; the photographs of the individual instruments are clear and clearly labeled. Text rarely extends for more than a paragraph or two before a box, a quote, or a related comment appears, making the pages very inviting. Children will absorb how various instruments are held and played. Levine relates the sound and sense of music in ways children will respond to easily: a quote describes the double bass as sounding like chocolate. The CD excerpts are crisply presented--one would wish to know who recorded them. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1220L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal; Har/Com edition (October 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579121489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579121488
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 0.6 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The enthusiasm for classical music without ever getting high-brow leaps off the pages of this book. Noting a few classical composers, conveying facts on how an instrument is held, how it sounds and where it fits into its niche in the orchestra are the strongest features of this book. The cd is weak but it works.

This book is for kids somewhat older and even adults really, it's a thicker book but no less colorful than "Meet the Orchestra" by Ann Hayes and Karmen Thompson which is a perfect complement to "Story of the Orchestra" but "Meet the Orchestra" is definitely for younger kids in primary grades.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful resource! After a recent visit to our symphony, my 5-year-old son wanted to know more about "the big thing with strings." With this book and CD, he has learned about the bass and so many more instruments. Two-page spreads complete with photos describe each of the main orchestral instuments and are keyed to musical selections on the CD highlighting that instrument. The combination of both seeing and hearing the instrument has fascinated my son, and he now likes to listen to the classical radio station and try to identify the instruments he hears. The CD is also lovely as background music during our day.
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Format: Hardcover
We took Story of the Orchestra with us on a long road trip. Every hour or so, I would read a page and play the accompanying track on the CD player. My husband and I really enjoyed it, as did our 8-year-old. Our 13-year-old acted disinterested, but later I overheard him passing some of the information on to a friend. The book was entertaining, informative (even for my husband and I), and really helped pass the time. I think it would also be a good bedtime read--doing a page or two a night.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading three chapters from this book is our new bedtime ritual with my 5 year old daughter. And in the morning, she repeats everything she heard to her grandma and grandpa. The book is well-written, informative and entertaining, and the music samples are a great introduction to the classical masterpieces.
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Format: Hardcover
The Story of the Orchestra is an excellent book for. Adults would probably know most of the information covered in the book, but still a good read. Covers famous composers and highlights of their lives, orchestra history, instruments used in orchestras and bands. All information is true, and is a good source if you are doing any reports on instruments. Context is good and fits childrens' appetites- the Viola is the "violin's big brother." Good book. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking for resources to help make teaching about classical music and composers to primary grade children more entertaining and I found what I needed all wrapped up in this book and CD combination.

Part I of the book concerns composers and is separated into the periods in which they composed, ie., Baroque, etc., with a brief description of art, architecture and feeling of the period. The composers covered for all periods are Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Mahler, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein.

Part II of the book is about the instruments of the orchestra. Again, this is further broken down into the different sections of the orchestra such as strings, woodwinds, etc. Then within each of those sections a feature on the individual instruments.

The accompanying CD has brief examples of the compositions introduced in the composers section and for each instrument. It really helps the kids hear what they've been discussing.

One of the best things about this book are the illustrations. They are colorful and entertaining. Sometimes there are humorous illustrations such as a drawing of the ideal Baroque instrumentalist needing 2 right hands, 3 left hands, and 3 eyes which really had my 3rd grade kids in giggles after hearing the intricacies of "Spring" by Vivaldi. There are also entertaining illustrations showing how an instrument produces its sound and they are mixed with photographs of the instrument itself. I highly recommend this book for music teachers to use as a reference and for parents who have children interested in learning an instrument.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There aren't any better books that I can find for introducing the instruments of the orchestra, however I didn't like this one and I would not use it for teaching. The tone is jaunty but snide. It makes fun of certain instruments and the players of those instruments (there's a big "quack" next to the oboe, and the trumpets are referred to as being obnoxious in some way). I have known several obnoxious trumpet players, but this is not inherent in the instrument, and many of them are very pleasant, thoughtful people.

Also, the text does not cover the essentials of each instrument. It puts them in categories (brass, percussion, etc.) but does not identify what these families mean, what they have in common or what makes each instrument distinct within their category. It includes silly things about composers, like what they looked like (Debussy had horns...who knew? and who cares?) and very little of substance.

The only alternative I can think to recommend is Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, a piece of music that separates the instruments and families so kids can hear what they sound like in isolation before being expected to pick the sound out of the texture.
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