Alaska Orff Chapter 3-day workshop


Peter and Mary Alice’s Alaska Orff 3-day workshop

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October 6, 7, 8, 2017
Central Lutheran Church 1420 Cordova St.

I am putting all of the post-workshop notes on this page in chronological order; you will need to scroll down to find the Friday and Saturday notes.

Many thanks for Elizabeth for months of communications and planning.  Thanks to Sofia for the generous loan of her car while we are here.  Thanks to Hannah for the use of her great sound system. Thanks for Meredith for lending us her guitar.  We know there are many more folks who made our workshop possible, and we really appreciate the enthusiastic participation of all you greater Anchorage music teachers.

MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

Stefan and Zara singing with the Starry Mountain Singers. Zara singing lead on the left, Stefan singing bass on the right.

Stefan on percussion/vocals and his wife (red head) Zara Bode with their band the Sweetback Sisters

Stefan is currently touring with The Devil Makes Three

Sam with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Sam fiddling

Sam’s wife Beth Orton singing Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”

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 Go to your own local dances

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All three days of workshops will be up maybe by Sunday night, but definitely by Monday night.

(note, “NEDM” = “New England Dancing Masters”)

 * THURSDAY, October 6, 2017, 5 – 9 pm *

in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection

Blaydon Races
We used ‘Blaydon Races’ from NEDM’s 2010 Revision of the ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’ CD for this. You can also use any jig or  reel medley for this dance. We did this is a mixer, but you can also do it with younger children without changing partners. We often call this at weddings.  We always start  teaching this, as we do with any circle mixer, by having the dancers promenade and defining the gents/moons/peanut butter/inside partners and the ladies/stars/jelly/outside partners.

My Heart Is Ready
This is in our “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs“. We have never sung this with children, but I think it might be great (in unison).  Let us know if you try it with your students.

Sun  Is In My Heart in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We find this to be comforting for both us and for the children.

Riding Our Ponies  in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.

Come Along Everybody in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We know music teachers who start their music classes with this singing game as the children enter the music classroom.

Sally Sunshine in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise book and companion CD
We like using this singing game with all ages:  especially 2nd grade and up (right through middle school/high school/adults) to teach the  relaxed, rhythmic style of walking characteristic of contra dancing and of nearly all the  Anglo and African/American dances we teach. We teach the song quickly by rote, and then keep singing the song over and over again as the students first walk in place in time to the song, then do the dance, and then maybe  add a forward and back into the figures.

Dance Teaching Tips
Mittens; front of your mitten on the front of your neighbor’s mitten, thumb lightly on back; take hands drop hands take hands drop hands; posture; teach the forward separately  from the back in the forward and back; :shake and take” for teaching promenade; while promenading: inside person is the moon/peanut butter/gent,  outside is the star/jelly/lady; four steps of making a circle from a  promenade: “Hang on to partner stop walking, hang on to partner face the center, drop hands, take hands.”; many ways of keeping the circle big and round on circle left and right; dosido (gents start on inside, ladies start going outside) flowing into two hand turn flowing into promenade; when music starts clapping the first of each 8 beats; doing the dance with your hands; “thick” calling, then “thin” calling then no calling; saying the call right before the ‘clap’ or before the first beat of  the phrase and figure.

La Bastringue  In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD
This simple circle/partner dance can be easily adapted for younger children.  Have them circle left hold hands straight across, then “open like a book” into a promenade holding “handy hands” (gent’s right and lady’s left).

Picture Books 
In the Fiddle is a Song
Day is Done
When I Grow Up
Great Big Star


Songfest 1
All I Really Nee
d by Raffi
Now It’s Time to Go by Peter Amidon
I’m Growing Up by Mary Alice Amidon
These are all in our Song in My Heart book and companion CD.

Bobolinka in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise CD
A great singing game for introducing elements of longways set dancing to children. I can be followed by ‘Kindergarten Reel’ (in ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’) and a simple version of ‘Virginia Reel’ (in ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’).

Tuesday Peter Amidon’s variation of Durham Reel which is in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book and CD.
I treat Tuesday and it’s cousin the Durham Reel similarly to Kings and Queens (in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut): I use elegant music (

      Slow G
from Sashay the Donut), have the children take their Royal Posture, and dub them each kings and queens.  I teach the dance while the music is playing to help sustain the mood.  I would do the Durham Reel for a few weeks before adding the element of the progression which turns it in to Tuesday.

Traffic Jam  from John Krumm
This scatter mixer is a great ice-breaker dance, particularly for older elementary school children and for a community dance.

Kindergarten Reel in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
A great first partner-longways-dance-to-instrumental music for young children.  Send me an email and I will email you the mp3 for the music to Kindergarten Reel.  Of course you can play the music on anything; piano, French horn, recorder.

Galopede in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk.
We talked about the choreography of using all the music by crossing over past your partner’s place, trimming the lines, and generally always moving with the phrasing of the music.

Mrs. Donovan’s Double Bridge Slingshot by Mrs. Donovan’s Vermont 5th grade class.
You can do this to any AABB jig or reel.  Here are the directions. I start teaching this by dividing each set into the Ups and Downs.  The Downs are the top half of the set who face down when starting the double cast off.  The Ups are the bottom half of the set who face up when starting the double cast off.  I drill them by having them all face partner then saying FACE! and having them face up or down very quickly so they can get into the cast off quickly.

Songfest 2
Walk a Mile
by “Vitamin L”
Martin Luther King by Merle Gartrell
Kindergarten Wall
by John McCutcheon
In Song in My Heart book and CD. I introduced this with a true story about my first day in Kindergarten. 

Our Story as told by Mary Alice
Your own story is a great place to start your storytelling with your students.

Nyangara a traditional folktale from Zimbabwe
Here is a transcription of my telling of the story.

Acting out folktale  Look at the Storytelling with your Students essay on page 12 of your handout.

Larry’s Mixer in Listen to the Mockingbird.
We used Cheris from NEDMS’s Other Side of the Tracks CD for music. This and many of the other tracks on this and on NEDM’s Any Jig or Reel CD are purposely longer than tracks in our other recordings, so that you and your students can get into the joyful groove of dancing that is more likely to happen when you dance for a long stretch.

Now It’s Time to Go We can’t wait to dance and sing and storytell with you tomorrow.

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Accretian Reel
Dancers need to be able to discern the phrasing of the music on their own (A1 to A2, A2 to B1, etc.) in order to do this dance successfully.

Little Seed – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.
We love “the little wait…” in this fingerplay/song. 

Sleeping Bunnies – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.
Young children never tire of this singing game.

Form the Corn – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.
You can do this scatter singing game anytime, anywhere.  We often include it in our assembly programs.

Sasha – In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut
A great dance for all ages! We are not sure of the origins of this dance: one source suggested it was a novelty dance based on a Russian pop song from the 60’s.  ‘Ras, dva, tri’ is Russian for ‘ready, set, go!’

 Old Brass Wagon – in NEDM’s Down in the Valley
This can be an a cappella singing game, or, with the CD (or live music) a great early dance to instrumental music.  When Peter teaches it he walks through the figures first, and then says “Now just do whatever Mary Alice says,” and puts on the CD.

 Exploding Star – by Peter Amidon
Formation: Circle of couples
Music: Any Reel medley
A1: Promenade partner forward and back.
Drop hands, all forward, clap on 4th beat while jumping and turning around.
A2: All start walking straight out from the center, then all bend to right so that all are walking single file clockwise. At beat 9 (the first beat of the 2nd half of the A2 phrase), while still walking, all take hands quickly with a verbal “boom”.
B1: Allemande left neighbor, dosido partner, allemande left corner,
B2: promenade partner.  All count “5, 6, 7, JUMP” and all jump as couples on the last beat and land facing the center on beat 1 of A1.
NOTES: The most satisfying and challenging part of the dance is having all the dances “snap” at the same moment into holding hands halfway through A2.  This dance is a version of Comment ça va (Sashay the Donut) which is a version of La Bastringue (Chimes of Dunkirk).

Lucky Seven In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection We used ‘The Coming Dawn’ from NEDM’s  ‘Other Side of the Tracks’ CD. The grand right & left exercises: First all promenade to determine inside/outside gent/lady or marshmellow/chocolate roles.  Then all face partner.  Ladies crouch while men weave around circle, starting on the inside. Then Men crouch and assist ladies as they weave around: right hand for outside, left hand assist for inside.  Then all stand and face center and do a stationary grand right and left just with the arms, counting up to seven.  Repeat that, but this time stepping in place (two steps per arm reach).  Then face partner and ‘repeat after me’ some of the rules: ‘I will not turn around, I will not go back…’ etc.  Tell them that it always takes seven times to get it right,  and make sure, when it doesn’t go right, that they all go back to where they started from (rather than trying to fix it in the middle of the grand right and left figure). Level one: Wait 8 beats on 2nd half of A2 music.   Level two: dosido partner on 2nd half of A2 music. Level three: At end of grand right and left allemande right the 7th person about 1 1/4 into a promenade.

SINGING FEST All the below songs are in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart”.
   Great Big Star – a spiritual that is also a wonderful lullaby.
    Mr. Moon – another lullaby
    Fox Went Out – traditional. Note the beautiful and sophisticated language in this song.  Try telling the story before and between the verses.
What a Wonderful World – We like facilitating having the children make up motions to this song.

Picture Books II
Princess Hyacinth
Mary Alice learned this story from a children’s picture book of the same name.

Circle Round the Zero – in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise”.
A sweet and engaging singing game for younger children, it also helps them to comprehend standing back to back, side by side and front to front.

Going to Alberta  In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection
This is a GREAT way to teach the ballroom position (used for the waltz, the polka, and for a contra dance swing) at the same time as a simple polka step.  We have found this to be a great dance for little kids, big kids mixed ages, community dance, in short, for anyone.  You can do it as an a cappella singing game, or accompany it with piano, guitar, accordion, or Orff instruments, or do it to the music of the Sashay the Donut CD.

Heel & Toe Polka In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirkcollection. With younger children and at community dances we usually skip the right hand or right elbow turn that follows the clapping, and we go directly to ‘everyone pass right shoulders with partner, walk straight ahead, and take two hands with new partner.’ We have done this dance with children as young as Kindergarten.   Like other circle mixers, you can start out teaching it with the children staying with the same partner, and later one teach the changing partners version.

Alabama Gal – in Rise Sally Rise& Alabama Gal
Make sure children can do this well as a singing game before doing it to the NEDM recording, which has a pretty fast tempo.  Having the children skip through the cast-off-under-the-arch will make it a more dynamic dance and also get the children back home in time for the next time through the sequence.

Choosing Partners We think it is a real gift to children to teach them  how to choose their own partners.  I like to frame this in ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’ language to help the children get over their self consciousness over  choosing partners.
I start with a story about how Kings and Queens realized that it might be more fun to dance with more than just their own spouses, and so they needed to devise a polite and efficient way to choose other partners.  “And the method they came up with was so good we still do it today.”
I have them all practice the words: ‘May I please  have this dance?’ ‘Yes thank you.’ and then practice answering me, and then practice  asking me.  Then I demonstrate what it looks like to ask a partner to dance, by asking one of the ‘Queens’.  Then, I have that Queen sit down, and I ask her again, showing the 10 steps: The approach. Eye contact. The question. The answer. King puts out his hand. Queen stands and takes King’s hand. They hang on to each other’s hand and walk to the top of the hall.  If there are  two Queens then there is a Queen on one side and a Queen on the other side.  If there are two Kings (you know the rest). If it is a King and a Queen, the King stands on the King’s side, the Queen on the Queen’s side and they face each other, nose, toes and bellybutton, taking two hands. Then they drop their hands, and, voila, there they are.

Kings & Queens In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection
We used ‘On the Danforth’ from NEDM’s ‘Other Side of the Tracks’ CD for this dance.  You might also use our other version of ‘On the Danforth’ which is on our ‘Sashay  the Donut’ CD. Before we teach this dance we will dub each child a King or a Queen, and talk to them (sometimes while the music is playing to help sustain the mood) about what it means to be a King and Queen: They have royal posture, they never rush, they make good decisions, they are very attractive; basically describing the ideal King/Queen or, which, in my mind is being the very best person they can be.  Then I “dub” each child a  king or a queen, making sure they have their royal posture before I dub them. This is in the style of an historic English country dance (i.e. Jane Austen social dances).

Kanji Joe – from Margaret Read McDonald’s Tuck Me In Tales

Solstice Song – by Alouette Iselin, SATB/piano arr. by P. Amidon. You can get the full arrangement from the Amidons’ Online Choral Store.

My Heart is Ready – by Cindy Kallet, arr. by the Amidons.
We think this might be great for children (just the melody) but we have never tried it. If you do this with your students please let us know how it goes.

Now It’s Time to Go by Peter Amidon, in Song in My Heart.
Bye bye, we had a wonderful time dancing and singing with you today!

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Comment ça va  – in Sashay the Donut.
This is Peter’s variation on “La Bastringue” (Chimes of Dunkirk), replacing the dosido/two hand turn in B1 with the same Left hand turn neighbor/dosido partner/left hand turn neighbor figure that is in “Simple Square” (Chimes of Dunkirk).  I love doing this with upper elementary students to “Toast” from Other Side of the Tracks CD.

Tree Song – in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection
Lorraine Hammond, who composed this wonderful singing game, is a songwriter and musician, and the best known  Appalachian dulcimer player in the country.  She is in the  greater Boston area.  The piano arrangement on the CD is Peter’s.  We find this to be a calming, centering dance,  both for the children and for ourselves.  I introduced it with a story about Roger moving to Vermont in the 18th century, creating a farm, raising a family, and planting an apple orchard.

Head & Shoulders  – in our New England Dancing Masters (NEDM) collection Rise Sally Rise
We often use this dance in a school assembly program: we teach most of it with the students sitting down, then they all just stand up and do the dance in place.

Highland Gates in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection
This is a great dance for opening a community dance. Folks can join in the dancing as they straggle in.

 Old Bald Eagle Square – in Sashay the Donutnot in the handout
Andy Davis’s brilliant version of ‘Old Bald Eagle’ is the simplest square we know: a great first square dance for young children.  Try it with the Sashay the Donut CD to Andy’s calls.

Solomon Levi  – in Sashay the Donut – not in the handout.
Another simple, engaging square dance, similar to (but easier than) “Simple Square” (Chimes of Dunkirk), with which it shares the 1st-couple-stand-back-to-back-and-separate-around-the-set.

Quartz Mountain – created by teachers at an Amidon workshop at the Oklahoma Arts Institue in Quartz Mountain.
I teach the clap first: crouch and wind up, the clap launches the jump up.  Then clap, clap-wind-up, then the clap-jump. It is thrilling when everyone does the clap-jump at the same time. 

SONGFEST – all these songs are in Song in My Heart book and CD
From the Seed in the Ground
Mail Myself to You
Brotherhood & Sisterhood
Vote for Me   

Picture Books III
Waking Up Is Hard to Do
Where the Forest Meets the Sea
Exclamation Point
Country Life

Strolling in the Park – in I’m Growing Up.
Make up your own movements to this.

All Night, All Day – traditional spiritual arr. by Dr. Ysaye Barnwell
You did a beautiful performance of this perfect SATB arrangement of this comforting spiritual.

Seed in the Ground dance – by Peter Amidon
If you got the sun
*Walk sideways with hands miming sun rising.
and if you got the rain
*Walk sideways the other way with hands miming rain.
and you plant a little seed
*Crouch down.
in the old back lane
Then jump and turn halfway with arms moving directly over head, end pointing in opposite direction.
And you wish and you hope
hands clasped together in front,  take step to diagonal left, then diagonal right,
And you keep the weeds down
Crouch down, keeping head up.
You might find, oh
standing up, step and gesture with arm to left.
You might find
step and gesture with arm to right
a root growing down from the seed
mime with hands
in the ground
take one step forward (leaving other foot in place) ending with forward  leg bent a little and back leg straight as arms and hands sweep from front to both sides (separating) as if miming the flat surface of the ground.

 Bridge of Athlone – In NEDM’s Listen  to the Mockingbirdcollection.
You can do this from “Blarney Pilgrim” on the “Listen to the Mockingbird” CD.  I used, and love using “Reel de Rimouski” from NEDM’s “Andy Jig or Reel”. If you have sets of, say, 7 – 9 couples (and more space than we had) and encourage the children to skip through the cast off under the arches,. We added the “cascading two-hand swing”: every couple successively go into a wave of two-hand-swings  as the active couple moves from the top to the bottom of the dance (the gent going through the tunnel) at the end of  the sequence.

Grumpy March – in Sashay the Donut
I wrote this dance to go along with Jay Ungar’s tune “Wizard’s Walk”, which is the cut on “Sashay the Donut” we like to use for this dance.
* After demonstrating the opening sequence, you might have your students just say the words first before executing them: “Grump, grump, grump, turn, together, right, together, left. Grump, grump, grump, turn, together, right, together, left.”
* You will need to practice, even drill, the moment where, after the final clap of the “Grump” figures, the group “snaps” into a long skinny circle to start the Circle Right of A2.
Note: Circle right is holding hands and walking, then drop hands and skip back the other way looking for partner.
* A choreographic moment is when everyone is skipping back the other way; dancers shoud flow right into skipping around their partners.  Picture how beautiful this would look from above; the moving long skinny circle transforming into a line of moving little circles (partners skipping around each other).
* In a community dance I make the swinging, twirling, skipping sashay optional for safety reasons, but in when teaching children in schools I encourage them all to try swinging their partner around while skipping down the middle.  Encourage the dancers to “stay vertical”.

Sellinger’s Round – an historic English country dance from the Playford collection, 1651.
written music:
mp3: type into iTunes search box: sellinger’s round roam
dance directions:
Youtube: Go to the 2:00 minute mark in this Youtube to see Sellinger’s Round at a dance festival.

Say What You Want – on Mary Alice’s solo CD Keys to the Kingdom

I Have Ten Little Fingers – in I’m Growing Up

Humpty Dump – a camp song
This is a great way to teach nursery rhymes to upper elementary children. We have the children recite the full nursery rhyme before sticking it into the song.     

Down Down Baby – In NEDM’s Down in the Valleycollection.
We have found that some children know other versions of this.  Encourage children to teach this to their friends on the playground; that is where Maureen Kenney (Kennedy) learned it.

Rural Felicity – in Sashay the Donut
Great for a community dance.

Willow Tree – from Chimes of Dunkirk, but this is a simplified version
This is a great dance for a performance.

Grand March – in Sashay the Donut
My version of the chorus is: Forward & back twice, Circle left, Circle right, Right hand turn around partner, Left hand turn around corner, Dosido partner, Seesaw corner, promenade partner.  Here is New England Dancing Masters’ Andy Davis leading his version of the Grand March:

Olive – Peter’s version of a traditional folktale from Italo Calvino’s “Italian Fairy Tales”.
This is a favorite story of our children and grandchildren.

At the Bottom of the Sea  – in I’m Growing Up
What a great way to tell all your students they are loved! We divided into a few groups at the same time because there were so many people.

Nancy & Arthur – in the style of an historic English country dance, by Peter Amidon.
You did a great job with this duple proper English country dance! I love the moment at the beginning of B2 where we all push away from partners and “fall back” (walk backwards). 

Grand Woo Hoo – by YOU!
A1: Bow to partner, allemand right partner, Left shoulder gypsy neighbor
A2: Allemand left partner, Right shoulder gypsy neighbor
B1: forward and back twice (“Whoo!, Who?”)
B2: Grand R & L seven changes, high ten the eighth person on the last beat of the tune.

Picture book: Over the Rainbow

Turn Around 
Here it is sung by our daughter-in-law Zara Bode at our family’s Last Night performance a few years ago:

Full arrangement available on the
This is a great song for your students to sing at a performance. Here is where I first heard it when I was a kid:

From the Seed in the Ground SSAA arrangement

Sicilian Vowel Dance in Sashay the Donut
We used ‘Golden Keyboard’ (actually, the piano only comes in at the end of the cut) from NEDM’s ‘Any Jig or Reel’ for this. Do this with 5th or 6th graders who have a fair amount of dance experience, and who have already learned the grand right and left (‘Lucky Seven’ from our Chimes of Dunkirk collection is a good teaching dance for the Grand Right and Left figure). You should have at least 20 dancers (five groups of four) to do this dance; 24 or more is even better.  It can work at a community dance if you have all the younger children dance with an adult or older experienced child partner. The main teaching point is, once folks are in the formation of couple facing couple (Sicilian circle formation), having everyone point to the left.  Those pointing to the inside of the circle say “I go inside first.” Those pointing to the outside say, “I go outside first.” That is the direction they start going  when they do the big, no hands, stay-with-partner grand right and left.

Circle Waltz Mixer In NEDM’s  ‘Sashay the Donutcollection.
Teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer
Dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer
We used ‘In Continental’ Waltz from the ‘Sashay’ CD  for the music. This is a wonderful dance for a wedding  where you can do it the original way we learned it, doing  a short waltz instead of the two hand turn.  In the original  dance gents are the “posts” and women are the “twirlers”, but it works perfectly fine in a non-gender community  dance with a two hand turn.  Here are some tips to for teaching this dance:
Start by having everyone promenade. Tell all the inside (left hand) partners they are “posts” and all the outside (right hand) partners they are “twirlers”.
All look at partner and say “goodbye”.
Posts stay in place and keep their feet planted during the “twirl” figure.
Carefully teach the first “twirl” each “Post” does with their left hand neighbor, from left to right.
Once the dancers get that twirl, the rest of the dance can go pretty smoothly.

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson, set to music by Rani Arbo
Shonti Elder just sent me an email reminding me that we had presented “Crossing the Bar” (I don’t remember whether I only said the poem or we sang Rani’s setting of the poem).  Here are links to:

Rani Arbo, who set the poem to music, performing the song

a performance of my SATB arrangement of Rani’s setting of the poem

more information on the song, from our Online Choral Store: 

and the poem itself:

Crossing the Bar
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

*                *

Thanks again for your generous hospitality and your enthusiastic participation in the workshop.  Keep singing and dancing!


Peter and Mary Alice