Growing bookworms – Audio books that teach children about music

Peter and the Wolf

Picture credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Wolf

When I was a little girl in the pre-preparatory school, one of my favourite music lessons was when our teacher played the audio book of Peter and the Wolf. I loved the story about Peter who needed to protect his pets from a hungry wolf. Most of all, I loved the sounds of the musical instruments that accompanied the story. Each character in the story has its own musical instrument and each sound is perfectly suited to the character. Our teacher used this story to teach us about the different musical instruments, which family of instrument it belonged to, and the sound it made.

Peter is played by the violin (string instrument family), the bird is played by the flute (woodwind family), the duck is played by the oboe (woodwind family), the cat is played by the clarinet (woodwind family), the grandfather is played by the bassoon (woodwind family), the wolf is played by the French horn (brass family), and the hunters are played by the timpani (percussion family). I have never forgotten the names, sound, or family of any of these instruments. In fact, I loved the cat (clarinet) so much, I literally forced Greg to play this instrument for two years. I took advantage of his devotion to me and the fact he always liked to please me. I came to realise this wasn’t fair of me and allowed him to give it up in grade 6. Greg never took to the clarinet.

The purposes of Peter and the Wolf, created by Sergei Prokofiev, are as follows:

  1. the teach children how to identify a variety of musical instruments, instrument families and instrumental themes;
  2. the demonstrate how music can convey different emotions; and
  3. to extend a story through the use of movement, story sequencing, and musical art.

Peter and the Wolf is approximately 30 minutes long and you can listen to it here:

Sparky’s Magic Piano

My parents noticed my enthusiasm for music and my Dad bought me a Sparky record when I was about 9 years old. I listened to this record over and over again.

There were four stories on the record, as follows:

  1. Sparky and the Talking Train;
  2. Sparky’s Magic Piano;
  3. Sparky’s Magic Eco; and
  4. Sparky’s Magic Baton.

Of these four, two had a strong musical theme, namely, Sparky’s Magic Piano and Sparky’s Magic Baton.

In Sparky’s Magic Piano, the most famous of the Sparky stories, Sparky is a young boy who does not like practicing the piano. One day, when he is frustrated with practicing, the piano talks to Sparky and tells him he will show him how wonderful it is to play the piano well. Sparky then proceeds to amaze his mother and piano teacher, and then the larger world with his amazing piano playing.

Wikipedia says that these are the piano works which appear in Sparky’s Magic Piano in the order in which they appear in the story:

You can listen to the version of Sparky’s Magic Piano I loved here:

Do you know either of these stories? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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50 Comments on “Growing bookworms – Audio books that teach children about music”

  1. This is a wonderful post, Robbie. It’s wonderful when creative outlets are combined. I love how the music can tell the story. I’ve been listening to opera, which the local radio station plays every Saturday afternoon, but I have trouble following the story, even with the announcer’s commentary between acts. Peter and the Wolf was done so skillfully. It’s amazing.

    Thanks for sharing this. Poor Greg. Lol. I played the flute for a year, but hated giving up recess to go to practice. I didn’t hate it, but my heart wasn’t in it, but the band teacher told my grandfather that I couldn’t play, so I stuck out the rest of the year just to prove her wrong. (I was a stubborn little cus. 🙂 ) My Michael played the clarinet, but his interest stemmed from his love for a girl, more than a love of music. So, did you ever play an instrument?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kaye, you are lucky to have learned to play a musical instrument and so was your Michael. I don’t suppose the initial reasons for learning really matter. You often learn to enjoy things like playing an instrument. I never had the opportunity to learn an instrument and so I desperately wanted my sons to play. Greg was very good, but he lost interest. Michael plays the drums but he never practices. I love music and it uplifts my soul when I listen to it. I can’t imagine my life without music. I am so pleased you enjoyed this post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today’s Growing Bookworms post discusses audio books that teach children about music. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely remember hearing Sparky’s Magic Piano when I was a child, and being enthralled. Both my boys had piano lessons but they hated practising. They gave it up and my youngest son took up the guitar and never looked back. I realised as I grew older that they needed to learn something they were actually interested in and not something I wanted them to learn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Stevie, you are right, we cannot live through our children and they have to make their own choices. I also learned that. Hence Michael’s drums although he doesn’t practice much. He likes drums so I let him have the lessons. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I LOVED “Peter and the Wolf” when I was a kid! I heard Peter’s music as soon as the title of your post came across my email. I’m listening to the video now. What a treat!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Darlene says:

    I also loved Peter and The Wolf as a child.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thats definitely an great idea, teaching children by audio books (too). Thanks for the information, Robbie! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is delightful, Robbie. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. joylennick says:

    Hi Robbie, You are a wonder…I recall Sparky’s Magic Piano and being intrigued. We are all lovers of music, but I only ever played The Bluebells of Scotland on piano before WW2 interrupted and dancing and reading won ! Continued good luck with all your amazing ventures xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • HI Joy, I’m delighted you enjoyed this post. I only got to learn Chopstix on a friend’s piano when I was younger. It’s always been something I wished I’d had an opportunity to learn, the piano. I tried with both my sons, but you can’t live your dreams through your children.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Another amazing post Robbie.. I actually danced in the ballet Peter and the Wolf when I was about nine years old and dancing to music also instils a love of it and storytelling.. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  10. marianbeaman says:

    I remember listening to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in elementary school. As I’m tapping these words, I hear the melody in my head. Thanks for showcasing this audio offering, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As anyone who reads my education blog knows, I am a huge believer in teaching reading/writing by alternative methods. Your books–encouraging reading by cooking together–is a great example. This, too! I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Baydreamer says:

    What a wonderful post, Robbie. I loved Peter and the Wolf and I appreciate the backstory you share here. My daughter and I took guitar lessons years ago and play a little, but aside from guitar and singing, this is the extent of our musical family. I always wanted to learn piano and we have one, but I haven’t taken the time to learn. Too busy writing, I think. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lauren, thank you for visiting and commenting. I always wanted to learn to play the piano as a girl but it was to expensive for the lessons. Now I could do it but I also just don’t have time. I guess I don’t want it enough now to give up my writing and blogging time.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. edwardky2 says:

    I still have that record of Peter and the Wolf. I played it constantly when young. Also some short ones that weren’t musical, The Old Man and the Tiger, Puss and Boots. And probably others I’ve forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jim Borden says:

    I have heard of Peter and the Wolf, but I am not familiar with it. Thanks for providing some background; I like the musical connection.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I believe that anything that helps children learn more about music is remarkable! Peter and the Wolf? When I was a tot, the music class of the school I went to took us to hear the local Symphony Orchestra perform Peter and the Wolf. It was enthralling!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. olganm says:

    I remember Peter and the Wolf, although it was never played at my school. It is a great idea for children to learn about musical instruments and their sounds. Thanks, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Jennie says:

    This is a wonderful post, Robbie. Introducing children to music and musical instruments is important, and Peter and the Wolf is a perfect way to do that. I loved the story and the music as a child. My preschool children at school do, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Norah says:

    I hadn’t heard of the Sparky books before but I always enjoyed Peter and the Wolf.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thanks so much for the lovely post, Robbie, and for sharing the music. I remembered the Peter and the Wolf rendition, which I’d forgotten over the years. And thanks for the intro to Sparky. What a creative way for children to learn about musical intruments. Lovely post. 🙂 Thanks for Kaye Lynn for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people


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