This month’s Music Book Review is Where Are All The Instruments: European Orchestra. The book is written by musician, author and music education blogger Nathan Holder and illustrated by Charity Russell.
The Jumo orchestra have arrived at the concert hall to play their concert, only to find that their musical instruments have all gone missing. Lucky for the orchestra, the Why Squad are on hand to help them find their instruments. We follow the Why Squad (a group of very helpful children) as they explore the park, the beach, even space in their search for the orchestra’s musical instruments. As they find each instrument, the children describe some of the characteristics of it. For example, they discuss how a string instrument is played with a bow, a french horn looks like a snail, a flute has a high pitched sound.
The Why Squad save the day and at the end of the book they stay to listen to the concert.
After the conclusion of the book all of the orchestral instruments are set out in their “families” (violins, violas, cellos and double basses are all part of the string family, for example), and there are a few tasks set, together with the answers, for the children to look and try to find all of the hidden instruments, so to have a really good look at them in the book).
This is one of a series of books about music and musicians featuring The Why Squad – curious children asking questions about music and music history. This is the first that I have read with my children, but I doubt it will be the last.
It is a beautifully illustrated book and perfectly pitched for young children to introduce them to what instruments of the orchestra look like, and give them a little idea of what they might sound like as well. I read it with both of my children, and it was most enjoyed by my 3 year old who liked searching for the instruments and seeing where they were hidden on each page. It prompted discussion about what the instruments would sound like, and following on from this discussion I found excerpts of each instrument for them to listen to. This was invaluable for my older boy as well, although at nearly 7 I felt he was a bit too old for the book; he has really got interested in music and in playing the piano since this latest lockdown, and his school will offer him one year’s tuition on an orchestral instrument next year, so we are talking quite a bit about which instrument he will be most interested in learning to play.
We bought Where Are All The Instruments: European Orchestra on Amazon for £8.99, but it is available with other book retailers.