Learn about Music with Little Amadeus—and Win a Season 1 DVD Set!
November 30, 2009Posted by andrew |
Take a trip back to the 18th century and learn about music with eight-year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart via the children's TV show Wunderkind Little Amadeus. This animated series is designed for children ages 4 and up, and not only keeps them entertained, but educates them about music through the adventures of young Mozart and his friends. Wunderkind Little Amadeus can be seen on KQED Kids daily at 8:30 am, or on a new four-DVD set of the entire first season (which we're giving away here to one lucky reader; keep reading for details).
Each episode features a colorful mix of real historical and imagined characters, including the precocious boy Mozart, his sister Nannerl, his parents Leopold and Anna Maria, his best friend and neighbor Kajetan Hagenauer, and Mozart's dog Pumperl. Also prominently featured, of course, are the musical works of Mozart. There's also a villain, Lorenzo Devilius, an official at the court of Salzburg's Prince-Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach, who, along with his talking rat sidekick Monti, plots against the young Mozart and his family (but thankfully never succeeds). Obviously not all of the characters in this German-produced series are historical people. I'm pretty sure Devilius is made up, for instance, and I can't find any evidence that Mozart ever had a dog named Pumperl, but it's all in good fun.
The season one set contains four DVDs with a total of thirteen half-hour episodes in English, German, French, or Spanish, as well as an interactive musical instrument game and an educational activities CD-ROM that contains coloring pages, lesson plans for home and classroom use, activities pages, posters, and over 100 pieces of printable sheet music featuring some of Mozart's best known melodies. The review copy has been on near-constant rotation in our house, and our kids even have the theme song memorized. Each episode includes a final segment called "Monti's World", where Monti the talking rat educates viewers about music, history, or some other educational aspect of the preceeding story.
We're giving away a complete season one DVD set of Wunderkind Little Amadeus, in partnership with its distributor Naxos of America. To enter to win, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Amadeus" in the subject line. Enter before midnight on Sunday, December 6, 2009, and we'll choose a winner at random on Monday, December 7. The set is available for purchase from Naxos Direct online or Amazon.com.
Overall, Wunderkind Little Amadeus is a pleasure. The 18th-century setting is nicely conveyed, and the music is neatly tied into each episode. Each character even has a leitmotif based on a work by Mozart. The animation isn't quite up to Disney standards, but it's acceptable, and the backgrounds depicting the city of Salzburg are actually quite accurate and detailed. You're not going to get a pedantic music lesson here; the main aim of the show is to inspire children to learn more about music and to even create their own, as well as to see that Mozart—arguably the most famous composer of all time—was once a child like them.
Take a look at the trailer below for a preview of the series. The Wunderkind Little Amadeus website, www.little-amadeus.com, is in istelf a fantstic resource, and features a wide array of interactive educational games, printables, activities, lessons, and more, as well as information about the series for parents and teachers. It's definitely worth a visit.