How It All Started

May 30, 2017
My daughter, Deanna

Well, it all started at 2:00 a.m., thank you very much! Any other questions?

OK, I’ll fill in a few more details. I’d been teaching private piano lessons for a few years, as well as teaching music in my children’s Montessori preschool. Word spread quickly that I was teaching piano, and people kept asking me to teach piano to very young kids. I tried it a few times, and I have to say that it wasn’t much fun for me or the kids! In most cases, their attention span is too short, and their hands are too small to properly reach the keys. Frankly, it was kind of a mess!

But people kept asking!

Meanwhile, my own daughter, Deanna, was about 3, and was becoming interested in music herself. My own little prodigy was starting to play on the piano just beautifully (OK, that’s a lie, she was banging away, driving me nuts!), and I knew I had to come up with something for her. That’s when I spotted a little Music Maker zither at my local music store. They were kind of expensive, I thought. Should I spend 50 bucks on something that might just gather dust and clutter up my house even more than it already is?

Well, I went ahead and bought one for her. Wow, did that decision ever turn out to be a life changing one! I gave the zither to Deanna, and like every kid I’ve seen and taught since then, (literally hundreds, if not over a thousand), she could immediately play beautiful music! No more pounding and banging on my treasured grand piano! She had her own beautiful instrument now!

My mother winning at Scrabble

We started bringing the zither with us to my mom’s nursing home, where Deanna would play beautiful music for Grandma and all the residents. People started fighting over who would get to play it next, and I’m not just talking about the kids here! Adults were having just as much fun with it as the kids were!

Then it happened. You know, that 2:00 a.m. thing. I was sleeping soundly when all of a sudden I woke up, and was “told” that I will create a children’s music curriculum, based on that zither! “I will? Really? Well, okay!”, I thought, and I could hardly wait for the next morning to come, just so I could get started!

Morning finally came, and I logged onto my old AutoCAD program, a leftover from my previous career as a facility space planner for our local utility company. I carefully measured the sheet music that came with my zither, and created all the symbol blocks in AutoCAD that I would need to make professional-looking sheet music for Deanna’s zither. Simple, right?

Not so much. I can’t tell you how many brain cells I lost trying to get that stupid music to line up right! I almost gave up so many times, it just didn’t seem worth messing with any more. Finally, though, persistence was rewarded with a piece of sheet music that I could give to Deanna to try on her zither. And it worked!

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I could come up with some lyrics for classical music… lyrics that would teach the name of the composer and some history about the piece. Well, that part took a lot longer! But over the course of the next couple of years, I wrote enough songs to start my own music classes. By now, Deanna was in kindergarten. I invited a few of her classmates to join my “Music Maker” classes, and it grew and evolved from there. After teaching “Music Makers” for nine years, and eventually changing the name of the class to “World of Harmony Music”, people kept telling me I needed to publish my books.

MTNA showing my published books

Right. Just go ahead and get out there and just, you know, publish ’em.

Have you ever read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, or “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”? Yeah well, “just publishing your books” is a lot like those books. There are so many obstacles! But after finally copyrighting all my hard work, coming up with my own publishing company and logo (Moose and Bubbles Publishing, named after my late parents Hy and Janette, whose nicknames for each other were Moose and Bubbles), working out all the ridiculously trying details of getting bound books of my music to line up correctly and not cost an absolute fortune to produce, figuring out how to list them on my own website as well as Amazon and eBay, and much more, World of Harmony Music is actually doing really well!

Moose and Bubbles Publishing logo

Ever wonder about my pricing? Well, the retail cost is $18.00. In Hebrew, many Hebrew characters have an equivalent number. Now, remember the song in Fiddler on the Roof, “To Life, To Life, L’Chaim”! Well, L’Chaim means “to life”. The letters in the Hebrew word Chaim are equivalent to the number 18. That’s considered a lucky number in Judaism, so that’s the suggested retail price of my books. Chaim (In English, Hyman) was also my dad’s name, so the price is also in memory of Dad. However, on this website, I sell downloadable books for $11.11, and hard copy books for $12.99. Long story short, the times 1:11 and 11:11, and the numbers 111 and 1111 were very special between my mom and me. So in memory of Mom, I have donated $1.11 per book sold to Headwaters Animal Shelter in Park Rapids, Minnesota, in care of my daughter’s fundraising project there, called “Deanna’s Heaven”. After spending 11 wonderful years as summer residents, we now live full time on a lake in nearby Nevis, and I am thrilled to have raised money for the shelter through the sales of my books! I started donating $1.11 per book on 11/1/11, and as of October, 2018, my book sales have raised over $16,000 for the shelter! It’s working! After 8 years of fundraising for “Deanna’s Heaven”, our focus has changed a bit. Deanna is now in vet school with the hopes of helping her beloved shelter animals even more. These books are now fundraisers for Deanna’s veterinary school expenses!

Here’s a neat thing. See the little shower head held by the moose in my Moose ‘n Bubbles logo? Look carefully. There’s a tiny little 11:11 in that shower head. Hi Mom!

I am thrilled to say that my books have sold in all 50 United States as well as Washington, D.C., 44 countries, and all 7 continents! I’m definitely just a little player in a huge world, but when I get treasured emails from people all over the world, telling me how much they’re enjoying my books, I feel like the richest lady in the world!

Deanna at the animal shelter

As for Deanna? Well, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology & Chemistry at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota and now attends the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts to become a veterinarian for, where else, Headwaters Animal Shelter! How on earth did that happen so fast? She’s an amazing pianist now, but will occasionally dig out the ol’ zither and play a tune for her mom, for old times’ sake. Oh, and she wants you all to know that she’s the CEO of World of Harmony Music! Of course, there are only two of us in the company, but hey, it’s a start!

Well, thanks for reading my story! I truly hope that my books will continue to give children all over the world a great introduction to the fun and love found in playing music. Now it’s your turn. Won’t you share your own story with me? Tell me how you’re using my books! Together, let’s help to create a World of Harmony through music, one family at a time!

In harmony all ways,
Debbie Center ?

Founder of World of Harmony Music

World of Harmony Music & Art