Symphony in B. by B. toysFall 2012 Toys
One of the most innovative electronic toys we've seen in quite a while, the Symphony in B. is an ongoing concert of learning. The centerpiece of the toy is the orchestra pit where six of the 13 instruments can be played simultaneously. The instruments themselves - clarinet, flute, tuba, trumpet, xylophone, drums, cymbals, piano, accordion, koto, guitar, violin and sitar - encircle the pit and wait to be called upon to perform. Each instrument is recognizable by design as well as color and has a specifically contoured base that fits into a shape-sorter cum charging station. There are lights that teach the sections of an orchestra and identify which instruments are in those sections: strings, keyboards, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The sound quality is clear and strong, making it easy to differentiate one instrument from the other.
Fifteen pre-programmed songs, from "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to Beethoven's Fifth to "Entry of the Gladiators" (the booklet informs us that originally written as a military march, this upbeat tune is now commonly used to introduce circus clowns) offer insight and opportunity to learn. From there the creativity begins. How do these tunes sound when different instruments are added, subtracted, or combined? Mix and match instruments to conduct one of these musical classics, or grab the violin by the bow and start composing.
The toy is portable, but may be a bit heavy for the youngest musicians to carry on their own. Although six AA batteries are included, the instructions are clear about using a full complement of fresh new batteries to get the best results. And it's worth it.