James Rhodes, now a classical pianist, was an abused child. He credits classical music with saving his life. With his book, Playlist, he introduces us to the original rock stars: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. He wants to help us "discover how their music changed history, inspired millions, and continues to enthrall throughout the world today." And he does it with a visually exquisite volume including the avant-garde designs by artist Martin O'Neill. After a short introduction by Rhodes, readers are directed to open up Spotify to cue up a playlist created specifically for readers of Playlist. Each classical musician superstar has two pieces of music on the playlist. Each piece reflects some aspect of the musicians genius.
This is what the reading/listening experience of Playlist was like for me---
Starting with Bach, I would read two pages of fun information about Bach and how his music has influenced current musicians. The double page looked like this:
|The Facts of Life on Bach|
|The Marriage of Figaro Overture by Mozart|
What I liked about this book:
- Well, I liked practically everything about it. I enjoyed the interactive component best.
- Rhodes was brilliant for choosing just seven musicians to highlight, making the book short. It was not overwhelming at all to consume both the book and the music.
- I think every music teacher should have their own copy of this book and get ready with the Spotify playlist. I can just picture them reading a short section to their students and then playing the song asking probing questions at the end to help cement learning.
- Rhodes talked about why no women or minorities were chosen. It helped me accept their absence. Now I want him to create another volume of Playlist, this one including pieces by women or non-European men.
- Interspersed throughout the book are more facts about classical music and how orchestras are organized by instruments. The back of the book has a helpful glossary of musical terms.
- The size of the book. It is unusually large so it was cumbersome to hold. It is nearly the size of old vinyl record covers, which are 12" by 12". (The book is a bit smaller at 11 1/2" by 11 1/2".) It is larger than most children's books. My experience with teenagers is they don't want to check out a book that will be viewed as a children's book by their peers. But this is a small quibble.
I highly recommend this book and hope that every secondary librarian includes it in their library collection. It provides a wonderful reading/listening experience.