I love music. I always have. One thing I really love is finding out the stories behind the songs. I still will oftentimes search out the inspiration behind a song that I really like or find interesting. Imagine having three books at your fingertips that does all of that and more! That is what Diana Waring has created with her Experience History Through Music series.
Many longtime homeschoolers may feel like they have heard about this product before. And they would be right. This is a wonderfully revised version of a product Diana first had out in the 1990s. She shares the amazing back-story to how the revised editions came about. It has a lot to do with a bankrupt publishing company tossing all the master CDs and how technology saved the day all these years later. If you want to read the details (and you should!), Diana shares the whole story of restoration on her blog. I promise. It's worth the read.
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.
There are three books in the series. Each covers a different historical period. The great part? Each book also includes a CD with all the songs professionally recorded. So even if you don't remember the song from when you were a child or can sing, you can simply pop in the CD and enjoy listening to the songs.
What I liked best, however? Each book also contains all the sheet music for the songs. I must admit that when I received my package in the mail, I immediately sat down at my piano and plunked out Sweet By and By from the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder book.
For this review, I'm going to focus on the Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West book. The songs in this book are from a time when America was working on expanding their reach west. This was the time of expansion and exploration. The time when our nation began to grown in to the country it is today.
There are fourteen songs total. Some are classics that I'm sure most people have heard at some point such as "Home on the Range." Others might be a bit more "new" but I'm sure will become family favorites such as "Gooey Duck."
Not only does Diana share the stories behind the stories and time period, but there are also photos spread throughout. Most are historical depictions of the time period. Each story is a two page spread. It doesn't take long to read but it's full of interesting facts and information. I simply read the information, share the photos, and then play the song.
As the mom of three boys, I must admit that they groaned a bit when I told them about the new books and what we were going to do. However, they groan about schoolwork a lot and I don't typically pay attention. The first song we read about and listened to was Apple Picker's Reel. My thirteen year old deemed it "fun!" after we were done.
I was transported back to elementary school when we used to learn folk songs. I'm not sure that's even a skill many schools do anymore. It also made me realize that I need to do a better job of teaching my boys these songs.
I love how this product takes something that is easy to remember - song lyrics - and adds in the historical context to teach history in a unique way. I can't recommend these books highly enough. They are of the same quality as all of Diana's curriculum. In a word - excellent.
Two other books are included in this series.
The Little House series of books have been around for quite some time. I've even read most of them to my sons. Adding in the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder book and songs rounds out the experience. Anyone who has ever read even the first book in the series knows how much music meant to Pa.
The last book is called America: The Heart of a Nation and covers the time frame from the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad. These were the songs that took me back the most. Included in this book are songs such as "Oh, Susanna" and "Old Dan Tucker."
Each book can be purchased for $18.99 each through the Diana Waring Presents! store on their website. Each book contains a CD with all the songs, sheet music for the songs, historical stories, and historical photos and illustrations as well.
Overall I love these books. I think they would make a wonderful addition to any American history program.