Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Interview with Diana Waring

I am thrilled to be a reviewer for Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music books and CDs, fabulous giveaway that's going on to celebrate the launch of these wonderful products. I wanted to share a little bit of Diana's heart for this project with you! I do hope you enjoy reading the answers to a few of the questions she's answered for us.

NOTE: There will be a Facebook Party next Tuesday evening, July 1, from 8-10pm EST.  It's a joint party with Diana and A Journey Through Learning. It will start on Diana's Facebook wall and end on A Journey Through Learning's wall. There will be lots of great prizes and freebies, so I hope you can join in the fun!

Here is a little information about Diana:

Author of Beyond SurvivalReaping 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 '80's, 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.

What was you life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, sing 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 parent 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, and my mother's father played various storng 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 me to 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 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!

How did you get started as a speaker?

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!

What happened to the first version of "Experience History Through Music"?

Sometime in the mid 1990's, the partnership that had produced "America," "Westward Ho!" and "Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder" decided that it was time to let a "real" publisher take over. So, we signed contracts with a company that was quite large in the homeschooling movement at the time. We were excited to have others taking over the day-to-day details, as I had moved from the Portland area to South Dakota, and this was going to make things so much easier for us all.

However, when this business went bankrupt in the late 1990's, something happened that was past my comprehension. I still don't know why, but when they declared bankruptcy they simply threw everything in the dumpster–including our masters. When I heard this, it utterly devastated me. These wonderful projects were gone, and to reproduce this again seemed too hard without the audio masters. Between having to start over from scratch with all of the images and graphic design and having no audio masters, I thought the entire project was gone forever.

People would ask us about them from time to time, as they had read about them, or heard of them, or had owned the original cassette tapes, but we always told them sadly, "I don't think they will ever come back into print."

Then, several years ago, Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse contacted me to see if we might have any remaining stock of this product. She had heard of a family who had gone through a fire and lost everything, and her company, and her company was trying to help the rebuild their lives. I guess that the mom specifically talked about these American folk music in history books/audios, and this prompted Gena's call to me.

I contacted the former partner who owned the recording studio to see if he, perchance, had somehow saved the audio files to digital. At the time, Tad was quite busy with other things, but he told me he thought he might have saved a FEW songs. Since it didn't sound promising, I thought it was probably a dead end. And I was sad all over again. It seemed like such a waste of a really fun product, that families had thoroughly enjoyed for years!

And, of course, these were the first books I had ever written...

Why I tried again two years ago is a mystery to me. I just took the notion to contact Tad once more and ask if he had discovered whether or not he had saved any of the songs. This time, as we talked, Tad realized that there were possibly some ways he could "pull out" the recordings from the antiquated DAT machines. However, he was in the midst of some medical issues, and was not sure how much time he would have to devote to the project.

It took two years and then, suddenly, I had an email in my inbox. The songs hadALL been digitally restored, remastered for CD, and were ready to go!! I could hardly believe my eyes. After fifteen years, these products were going to have a new life.

I can hardly describe what this means to me, personally. But, maybe I can share with you what happened a few months ago to illustrate. Our business phone rang one day, and a woman began excitedly talking to my husband. As he heard what she was saying, he suggested that I would like to hear her story directly. When I took the phone, this is what she said:

"Diana, I met you fourteen years ago at a convention. When I told you that my family absolutely LOVED 'Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder,' you told me to pray that somehow it would all be restored... And, I have been praying!! Each time I walked by the cassette tape, I was reminded to pray... for FOURTEEN years!!"

She went on to say that she had just read on social media that the products were coming back into print, and she was so excited to see that her prayers were finally being answered. Together, we shared a few tears and a few amazed words of joy, at what was taking place before our very eyes.

Look for my review of Experience History Through Music next week!

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