Monday, June 30, 2014

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music (A Review)

A couple years ago at a homeschool convention, I happened to go to a seminar about teaching history. The speaker, Diana Waring was awesome! And that seminar led me to check out some of her history resources for our own homeschool, and we've loved everything we've tried! So when she gave us the opportunity to review her Experience History Through Music! Series, I jumped at the chance.

The Experience History Through Music! Series consists of 3 books:
America - Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West and
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

These books are available for $18.99 each BUT for the month of July, you can get all 3 books, with CDs, for $50!

Each book includes the sheet music for, and a CD of, 13-16 songs, as well as a 2 page write-up either about the song, or about a piece of history that relates to the songs (some of the songs are "newer" but tell about that time in history). The above link includes a list of all songs included in each book.

I was excited about all 3 books, but I have to admit, I was REALLY REALLY excited about Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder! Growing up, I loved the Little House Books, and read them countless times! As soon as my daughters were old enough to enjoy chapter books, I read the Little House books to them, and they loved the books as much as I did (and do). But, as I read them aloud, I realized that I had no idea what the tune was, or the rest of the lyrics were, for the many songs mentioned in the series. I can't wait for Little Bit to be old enough to appreciate the Little House books, THIS TIME, we can listen to the songs when they're mentioned! But in the meantime, we dove right into Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder as soon as we got it! It did NOT disappoint! I do think it wouldn't be very meaningful if you haven't read the Little House books, but I'm guessing anyone interested in this book, will have read them. It does do a good job of "jogging your memory" about when, and in what context, the song is mentioned in the Little House books, so it worked fine to have read the books awhile ago, and to just go through the Musical Memories book without re-reading the Little House books.

As soon as we started going through the book, and it was, naturally, talking about Pa's fiddle. Lexie perked up . . . if Pa played these songs on his fiddle, maybe they were written so that she could play them on her violin! She's been taking violin for a little over a year, and has just started learning to read music (Suzuki method music lessons teach children to play from memory first, before teaching them to read music). So she looked at the sheet music, and was pretty sure that it was written in the range of notes that violins play. She took it with her to her music lesson and sure enough, most, if not all, of the songs can be played by violin. AND her teacher found at least one song that Lexie already knew most of the notes for. Miss Pat taught her the one or two notes she hadn't learned yet, and now she can read, and play "Sweet By and By" from the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder! She's very excited about it, and has practiced diligently to get it just right, so I could include a video of her playing part of it.

While Musical Memories was our favorite book in this series, because of our love of the Little House books, we thoroughly enjoyed the other 2 books as well.

As it's title suggests, Westward Ho! Tells about the westward expansion of our country. It includes a combination of songs that were an integral part of that westward expansion, such as songs the cowboys sang, as well as songs that were written more recently but tell about that fascinating part of American history.

America - Heart of a New Nation is a chronological "journey" through american history. Starting with the colonial period with songs like Yankee Doodle, it moves on through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and the transcontinental railroad.

All 3 of these books are an awesome resource for teaching American History, music appreciation, or just for fun! Little Bit had great fun "dancing" to many of these "toe-tapping" tunes, and I've heard her randomly singing some of the songs as she plays.

In closing I wanted to mention one other thing I love about these sets! Unlike some other music resources I've used, I enjoy the sound of the music, and the singers' voices on these CDs. They are easy to listen too (not too high pitched, or out-of-tune), and at an easy-tos-sing along pitch, so that we could easily jump right in and sing along for the songs we knew, or wanted to learn! That alone makes this a resource at the top of my list!

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY! You could WIN your own copy of these books, along with a huge list of other great resources!


Chareen said...

Oh wow Lexi you played that beautifully well done !

Diana Warings products are being well loved in our home too. But alas no one here to play for us :) I shall need to visit you ...

Anonymous said...

That is wonderful! Sweet By and By is my favorite song too. She did great! Love your review. Very informative!