Saturday, July 5, 2014

Diana Waring~ Experience History Through Music ~ book and CD sets

I have been delighted to be a part of the Diana Waring and Friends Launch team for "Experience History Through Music." I would like to give you a little more information about the books and CDs, which I received for review as well as being allowed to participate in the fantastic giveaway being sponsored by Diana and Friends (which ended tonight, July 4~ just in time for the celebration of our nation and independence.
WOW... WOW... WOW!! 19,644 entries into this giveaway! Many blessings in store for the winner!).

I am sharing the "Book Descriptions" as well as our personal opinions and thoughts on each one, followed by a short author interview. 

Experience History Through Music contains 3 book/CD sets:

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 historical pictures; bright and interesting stories connecting each of the songs to its moment in history, even sheet music and chord charts! The CDs are rousing , professional recordings that draw in all listeners. The two combine for fond memories and a grand, knee-slapping good time. 

My two oldest and I took turns reading the stories and "summarizing" them for the others, which worked well, since we have a 7 year old joining in. The stories give some great background information, which we always enjoy~ and which make the songs much more interesting and memorable.

Musically we loved most of the performances on the CD's, which held true to the style and intent of the original compositions~ with some very distinctive voices and arrangements~ very interesting and listenable. 

America – Heart of a New Nation
From the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad, America is a chronological tour of American history through its music. Enjoy the songs and stories of our past that have been shared from generation to generation—songs that make you laugh, make you cry, and make your patriotic spirit soar.

America contains many familiar songs  (like Yankee Doodle, Oh! Susanna, The Erie Canal, and When Johnny Comes Marching Home),as well as some that may not be quite as familiar (Old Joe Clark and Johnny has Gone For A Soldier). I have a new appreciation for "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain When She Comes" after reading the historical information about time zones and trains (The song doesn't have anything to do with trains, but it certainly relates to what we call "Irish Time" in our house. :) It was interesting to hear a song that I sang in choir in high school, Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill.

Westward Ho! – Heart of the Old West
America's westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs.  In Westward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time.  Now you can experience the pioneers' adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along.

There were songs in this set that I was less familiar with, as well as others that I grew up singing (Chisholm Trail and Strawberry Roan were two that I sang with my sister at family outings as well as volunteer performances for nursing homes and other gatherings), which made this a bit of nostalgic listen and read for me. 

Others like Boll Weevil and San Juan Pig War were new to myself and my children, but became "hits" due to their content and style. :) 

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The well-loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families.  Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.

This is a treasure, particularly to those who love the Little House books. While many of the songs are familiar, there are certainly those that have been "lost" to our generation. I appreciate that they are preserved here, with the lovely companion book with photos and background from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Definitely a favorite. 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Diana Waring
1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.

I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .
But music WAS in my grandparents' lives. My father's father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there -- tell you later), and my mother's father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.

Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .
Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.

Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings--but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!
Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring -- and it was a JOY!!

2. How did you start writing history books?

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of "America."  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using music exposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to know about how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the "secular" civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.  

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making). Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity to research and write!

Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  :)

3. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I've ever heard:  "Round Trip Ticket to Samoa". . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  :)

Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother's piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beauty when she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)

4. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don't you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.
Switched to oboe in 7th grade.
Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!
Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.
Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, "Godspell."
Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.
Learned to play banjo when I was 23.
But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven's 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

"The Gooey Duck" from Westward Ho!
A relative of the Quahog of the N. Atlantic?
5. What value do you see in students learning America's folk songs?
How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it's music!

Plus, it's part of our American heritage.  It's part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  :)

6. Do you have other books/products in the works?
Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, "Daughters of God."  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.
Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.
Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

Our Timing is Not His Timing..... 
Before I wrap up my review, I need to link you to a wonderful story that Diana shared with us, and then posted on her blog~ a story related to these recordings and books, but mostly about God, His answering prayers, and faithfulness. Diana Waring: A Story of Restoration. What an amazing testimony! 

Not so Nutty Nitty Gritty~ 
  • My oldest enjoyed hearing songs that she had read about in not only the Little House books, but in her regular history reading and recreational historical fiction. 
  • Middlest enjoyed hearing the history and stories related to the songs (*note: not all of the songs were written at the time of history that they relate to, but were written in more modern times ~ some at the height of the "folk song" era~ to memorialize the topic at hand). 
  • Youngest, who claims that "music is not his thing" asks me to play the more energetic songs (Boll Weevil being one) because they are among his favorites... ;) 
A note for the musically inclined~ as is true with many folk songs, melodies are "suggested" in the written form, but seldom followed precisely. I was thrown the first time or two that I was following the included sheet music for songs that I didn't know and realized that the performer was taking artistic liberties with the melody. Likewise, I understood that the tunes *I* learned as a child didn't necessarily follow what was written or was being sung note-for-note, and had to accommodate for that. 

Experience History Through Music can be purchased directly from Diana Waring for $18.99/set. During the month of July you can purchase the entire set for $50. 


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