Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.
The Orchestra is a lovely and cheerful first introduction to the world of symphonic music, approached by the gentlest and most inviting of steps. First comes the idea of the omnipresence of music, with its endless variety of moods and expression. The text proceeds to the composition of music: the melody, or “hummable” part, plus harmony and rhythm, and the way in which these aspects together create something very special and unique. Then to “tone colour”: what instruments shall the composer choose in order to create exactly the desired effect? The picture story follows two eager children on a visit to a composer, who in turn takes them to see an orchestra in rehearsal. The strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections are introduced, and each individual instrument is explained and demonstrated, along with three “special’ instruments, the piano, the celeste, and the harp. Lastly, the children meet the conductor and watch him in action. Later on, after this behind-the-scenes introduction, the children attend the symphony and see the casually attired musicians of the rehearsal hall now splendid and unapproachable in black, in full concert. This is a most attractive, colourfully illustrated book that should be popular with music teachers and junior students alike.