Experiencing History Through Music – A Great Independence Day Addition

by Dawn Oaks on July 5, 2014


One of the names in the homeschool industry that always seems to be synonymous with quality is Diana Waring.  Diana has recently released a new three volume series called, Experiencing History Through Music.  Our family has had a chance to review some pre-release copies and would like to share a bit about what we found.

The Series

There are three book/CD sets in the Experience History Through Music series:

  • America: The Heart of a New Nation
  • Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West

Each of these book/CD sets normally retails for $18.99, but can be purchased as a three volume set during the month of July for $50.00.  Each volume contains between 13 and 16 songs on the CD.  The book has a one to two page history or story behind each song as well as a copy of the sheet music.  The sheet music is in lead sheet format with the lyrics to all verses, melody line, and guitar chords.

America The Heart of a New Nation

The History

Beginning in the first book of this series, America: The Heart of a New Nation, we find the colonists assisting the British during the French and Indian War. The tale is shared of how the song Yankee Doodle came about as a result of the way the British would poke fun at the colonists as being “amateur” soldiers.  They lacked uniforms with luster and formal fighting formations.  What the British came to realize was that the colonists were a fierce fighting force in their knowledge of the land, prowess in shooting, courage in the times of battle, and endurance in fighting under harsh conditions.  The colonists took what were meant as taunts and fashioned new lyrics to what we know today to be Yankee Doodle and it became a landmark song of the American Revolution.

In this first volume in the Experiencing History Through Music, we see our nation grow and overcome adversity and challenge as we travel through:

  • the War of 1812 (The Star Spangled Banner),
  • developments in transportation (The Erie Canal),
  • controversy and battles over slavery leading up to and through the Civil War (Oh Susanna, All Night All Day, Old Dan Tucker, Wade in the Water, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, When Johnny Comes Marching Home), 
  • John Sutter’s discovery of gold in California in 1839 (Sweet Betsy from Pike), 
  • merchant sailing adventures on the high seas (Shenandoah),
  • cattle drives out West (Git Along Lil Doggies),
  • the development of the Transcontinental Railroad and use of passenger trains for travel(Drill Ye Tarriers Drill, She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain), and
  • the growing culture that America could call its own (Polly Wolly Doodle and Old Joe Clark)

Westward Ho Cover

The second book in the series is Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West.  This wonderful collection brings to life the huge dedication and heart that the Settlers of the West possessed in order to settle a vast territory that truly allowed our nation to spread from sea to shining sea.  The songs in this volume highlight events related to the life in sod shanties, gold mine camps, cattle drives, and the open prairie.  The musical selections are so descriptive of this period in our nation’s history.

  • Apple Picker’s Reel
  • Boll Weevil
  • Missionary’s Farewell
  • Oh, California
  • Ho! For California
  • San Juan Pig War
  • Chisholm Trail
  • Westward Ho!
  • Home on the Range
  • Little Old Sod Shanty
  • Strawberry Roan
  • Old Settler
  • Gooey Duck
  • Little Cabin in the Cascade Mountains

Laura Ingalls Wilder Cover

The final book in this series fits in so well in bringing a sense of completion.  There are not many families that really encompass the character and nuance of the original settlers of our nation than that of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The Ingalls and Wilder families speak to the very heart of America – the dream of better tomorrows when hard work, steadfastness, and faith in God were their very fabric.  The song selections contained in this volume are those that Laura Ingalls Wilder documented in her writings as those being played or song by her Pa in their home or as he worked the land or helped in blazing the trail for the railroad.  Our son who has a great desire to play the fiddle (not the violin) came alive as he got deeper and deeper into this book and the music in it.

The Music:

As a musician myself, I sometimes cringe when I first begin using a curriculum or resource that contains music for children.  Many publishers seem to think that music for children should be simple and have a tinny sound.  Music, regardless of the age of the listener, should possess a beauty and richness that does justice to the musical selection, the composer, and the message being shared.  Diana Waring has done a remarkable job of not just presenting quality historical stories behind the music of our nation, but has done so with rich orchestrations, superb recording quality, and instrumentation appropriate for the time periods.  A job well done!

True Patriotism Revived:

Our children today are growing up in an age of technology.  Technology alone does not bring about a sense of patriotism.  As a matter of fact, one of the greatest concerns of many in our culture today is how truly hard it is to find merchandise and even food that if Made in the U.S.A.  

Many of our children have grown up with our country at war.  A war that they do not understand or even get a clear message from the adults around them as to our continued presence in some of the countries that our soldiers are based in.

Experiencing History Through Music combines the power of our nation’s history with incredibly well performed music that will incite a renewed sense of true patriotism among our youth.  America was not founded on Microsoft, GM, the NBA or Hollywood.  Our country was founded on hard work,  steadfastness in the face of adversity, courage when standing for what we believe, and faith in an Almighty God.  This is exactly what Diana Waring communicates in this 3 volume set.

Suggested Uses:

Three of our children will be studying American History this coming year.  We will certainly be incorporating selections from these three book/CD sets into our plans throughout the year.  I will be relying on the power of the music to help the history stick.  In days gone by, every company and product had a musical jingle that created an identity in our minds through the association with the music.  Our brains just process music differently, which will take our student’s learning to a whole new level.

Another way that I could surely see this set being used is in the local homeschool group that wishes to study our nation’s rich heritage in the midst of a music class, history class, or choir.  The selections and stories are short enough to fit into a regular class length and have the children take home a song in their hearts.

A big thank you to Diana Waring and her team in putting these incredible resources together.  Our family will be surely blessed as I hope that my readers’ families will be as well.

Experiencing History Through Music Now Available

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