The Royal Conservatory of Music recently released new theory books for each of their piano levels. They correlate and support the skills students are learning in sight, ear, repertoire, and technique. And now, each level contains guided listening assignments and music history.

At a recent group performance class I presented Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev. Prokofiev (1891-1951) was a Russian composer and pianist. He started piano lessons with his mother at age three, and wrote his first opera at nine. He studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1918 he left Russia for the U.S.A., and in 1920 settled in Paris, France. In 1933 Prokofiev returned to Russia.

Peter and the Wolf was written 1936 (in just four days!) for narrator and orchestra as a way to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra. Each character in the story is represented by a different instrument of the orchestra – strings, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, French horns, timpani – and each character is given their own unique melody that reappears throughout the story.

Here is a YouTube version of the story. And our very own National Arts Centre Orchestra is presenting a live version of Peter and the Wolf with Rick Mercer on Saturday, May 20 (two matinee concerts) as part of their kids’ series TD Family Adventures.