My name is Diana Dow. I am a wife, mother (to 6 boys), Bible class teacher, violinist, home school mom. I began playing the violin at 7 years old but took lesson sporadically as my parents could afford it. In high school, I began to take my music seriously and even began my college career as a music major. Realizing that I wanted a family more than to be a musician I put it all aside to marry Danny in 1981.
Through the years I have been blessed the opportunity to play my violin in a couple of symphonies (Amarillo, Tupelo, Lubbock, Orchestra of the Pines). I thoroughly enjoyed these experiences but realized that it’s hard to keep up with so many family obligations to take care of.
I began teaching private lesson at the insistence of a home school mom friend of mine. I began teaching her son in 1992. I loved it. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been doing this all along. What a joy it was to see my students progress at a steady pace and to learn to love what they were doing. I also taught piano lessons which added variety to my lesson day. I have continued teaching private lesson ever since and it never gets old.
I started the East Texas Home School String Orchestra 5 years ago (2006). The idea for a string orchestra made up of home school students was introduced to me while living in Lubbock, TX. My son participated in a home school band there. It was a great experience for the students. One year, it was suggested that the band director start an orchestra. He didn’t have any stringed instrument experience so I sat in on the rehearsals and helped where I could. It was a productive year and showed me that I could do this. The following year I took over the string orchestra. It was so much fun but my family had to move and I could no longer lead the orchestra in Lubbock.
Once in Huntington (Deep East Texas), our family grew to a total of 6 boys. I was too busy with the little ones to start an orchestra but I always knew that I wanted to again one day. I was teaching private violin lessons and knew that my students would benefit from a group experience. There was nothing nearby that was affordable for the average home school family. My baby was now 3 and could do without me for a little while so I knew that it was time to start a string orchestra here in East Texas.
I let the local home school families know what my intentions were and I think I had 15 students sign up that first year. That was quite a year. I affectionately referred to them as the popcorn band because they sounded just like popcorn popping when they tried to do a pizzicato section together. That first concert we did, just 5 months after starting, was quite an event. I think it must have lasted 15 minutes at the most. My students held to their reputation of being a popcorn band but their parents were so proud and so was I. By the end of the year, we gave a much fuller concert and sounded tons better.
The next year, I added the second orchestra. I now had one that was working in the 2nd year book of Strictly Strings and one working in the 1st year book off Strictly Strings. By the third year, I added a 3rd orchestra which gave me: beginners, 2nd year and the orchestra that everyone that has finished the two Strictly Strings books plays in. This made for a long day (4 1/2 hours of music, music, music) but was very rewarding. The goal is to always have a beginning orchestra, second year orchestra and what we call a concert orchestra.
One fun thing that has happened is that kids decide they want to learn a second instrument, I let them. I don’t charge any extra for being in another orchestra so I have some kids that are learning all four stringed instruments. It’s a great opportunity for them and their experience helps our beginning group progress much easier as well. At some point they have to decide what their main instrument is going to be but it’s nice that they can be acquainted with all of them.
I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. The kids are great, their parents are great, I’m doing something I enjoy. It’s a good thing. If you would like to contact me my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.