Friday, July 4, 2014

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music Review

 photo 3books.jpg When I heard about these three books by Diana Waring Presents I was very interested in reviewing them!! I love history, I love music and our family has been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a family for the better part of 3 years (a chapter at dinner each night). But when I actually received the books and cd's they were even more exciting then I anticipated!

     The three books in this series are:

America 1750-1890:The Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
As the name of this series implies, these book and CD sets allow you to Experience History Through Music. Each title contains one book and one CD. The pages of the books hold dozens of interesting and inspiring historical pictures; bright and engaging stories connecting each of the songs to its moment in history, even sheet music and chord charts. The CDs are professional recordings, with many folk songs you may know well enough to start singing along right away!  

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Get to know Diana Waring

     Author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring's History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that "the key to education is relationship." Beginning in the early '80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

      Diana shared some back story with us about what originally inspired her to write this series:

"Back in 1989, after I had been struggling for about three years with homeschooling (my kids and I were ALL bored!!!), a friend suggested that I attend the state homeschool convention (in Tacoma, WA). . . In those days, the main way to learn more about homeschooling was to attend a convention—oh, how times have changed!!
The problem was I couldn't afford it. My dh was a public school band teacher, we were single income, and there simply wasn't anything extra in the budget. When I voiced that concern, my friend said, "Oh, you should teach a workshop! That way, they pay you $50, give you some mileage to get up to the convention, and you get in FREE!!" Looking at her in amazement, I asked, "What on earth would I teach????"
She pulled out the previous year's convention schedule, with its varied workshops, and handed it to me. Quickly glancing down the list, I noted that the ONLY music workshop was using classical music in the home and that there were NO history workshops. At that moment, an idea was born.
Why not teach American history through its folk music?
That was the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool speaker (yes, the convention wanted my workshop) and as a homeschool writer/ curriculum producer.
Never saw this coming, but, oh, what a life we have shared!!"

    These books (and previously cassette tapes) had been published by Diana in the past. Everyone who got a copy just loved them but unfortunately they were lost through some unfortunate events. Diana shares how they were restored (and now on CD) through a really moving post on her blog. And I couldn't say it better myself, so I'll just let her tell you the story.

My impression of the books

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      In America: The Heart of a New Nation, you'll hear so many classic songs of our nation. I remember many of these songs that we sang growing up. Songs like Yankee Doodle, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Oh! Susanna. She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain is especially dear to me, as I can remember my grandmother singing this to me as she rocked me to sleep as a child (just the way my Great-grandmother did to my mom when she was small). But to take these songs that I have known for most of my life and to learn the history of them for the first time? That is what's makes these CD and book combinations, not just good, but great! For instance, did you know that "Yankee Doodle" originally written by the British with different lyrics to insult the American Colonists? But the Americans turn the song around and wrote new lyrics which inspired the new nation ! 

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The American expansion West is something that I wouldn't want my children to miss, and yet, in some ways it's so hard for them to understand the hardship and trouble that those brave pioneers faced. No cars, no trains, or phones, having the mail take months to be delivered or received. These are all difficult for a modern child to understand. What better way to teach them about some of the feeling and experiences than through music! Songs like Missionary's farewell, Little Old Sod Shanty, and Chisholm Trail, can teach us about many of the "ways" of these early settlers, and start up some very interesting dialogue between you and your children. Listening to my children belt out "Home on the Range" and ask me what a "Boll Weevil" was, shows me what an incredible teach tool these sets are, not just the first time you listen to the songs and read the stories, but each time, can reveal a new layer, as the children understand more of the words and are inspired to ask more questions about this period of history.

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     My children loved to listen to all these cd's and hear all the stories, but there is no doubt that the Laura Ingalls book and cd is their FAVORITE. Maybe because Laura is so real to them as we read the stories of her life. And maybe because Pa's choice in music strikes a chord with our own. The first time they listen to "Sweet by and by" (Pa's favorite and the song he asked to be sung at his funeral)  they asked if we could sing it during family devotions.
 And this video of my daughter singing "Wait for the Wagon" speaks for itself. =)

 The regular price of each set of books and cd's is $18.99 each.The 3 book/CD set is on sale for $50 for the month of July.  These books and cd's are incredibly moving, inspiring and educational, I would recommend them not only to every homeschooling family, but also to anyone who loves history and music as well! 

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