FAME 2014 Conference Notes


for Peter & Mary Alice Amidon’s two workshops at the

2014 FAME Conference

Friday and Saturday, July 26, 27, 2014

Hartt School of Music, West Hartford, CT

Below you will find notes for:

* Friday Evening Community Dance

I’m Growing Up
Fingerplays, Action Songs, Singing Games and Stories for Young Children

Saturday Evening Songfest

THANK YOU: To Rite Wilder, Kim Yannon, John and Lillie Feierabend, Alec Harris, and all the other organizers for creating a really wonderful first FAME Conference and for helping us out wherever we needed help.  And thanks to the quite extraordinary group of music teachers who gathered this weekend for your enthusiastic and very musical participation in our workshops.


Sign up on our email mailing list for approximately once-monthly notices about upcoming Amidon workshops and publications.  Just go to the Amidon website and sign up on the homepage:


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MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

 Stefan (with the family last New Year’s Eve)


Stefan’s wife Zara Bode (red haired lead singer – Stefan on percussion and bass vocals)


Sam’s wife Beth Orton

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 Go to your own local contra dances; they are fun, welcoming, aerobic, and it will make you a better dance teacher:

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Workshop notes

(scroll down to get to notes for “I’m Growing Up” and “Saturday Evening Songest”

NOTE: “NEDM” = “New England Dancing Masters”

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Friday 7:00 – 9:00 • Community Dance

Blaydon Races in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
For music use “Blaydon Races” on the new edition of NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD or to any jig medley. Always start teaching this by having dancers promenade around the circle and defining the inside and outside partners (gents/ladies or moon/stars or peanut butter/jelly or inside/outside, or or or …)

Swing Party by Peter Amidon

I learned the “grab partner’s muscles (upper arms), right foot in front, sit (give weight), swing (clockwise) from the great, late, Boston area folk dance teacher Marianne Taylor

Here’s the dance

A1 All walk around randomly
A2 Grab someone’s muscles and swing
B1 All walk around randomly
B2 Grab someone’s muscles and swing

and here is a nice contra dance Youtube that includes some nice swinging:



Starburst Mixer

I learned this fantastic scatter mixer from David Millstone.  I am not sure what the source is.

A1: All walk around randomly
A2: Gypsy someone you are walking past, and swing.
B1: Take that person’s handy hand and promenade around randomly.
B2: Take hands in a circle of four with another coupld and circle right and circle left.

A1′: Balance circle of four, and “starburst” out individually.  All walk around alone and randomly.

Continue to A2, B1, B2, A1′, A2, etc.


Larry’s Mixer from NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird

This is a wonderful dance for older elementary school children with some dance experience.  We like dancing it to NEDM’s “The Coming Dawn” or “Cheris” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks” CD.


Bridge of Athlone from NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird”

I used the “Reel de Rimouski” cut from NEDM’s CD “Any Jig or Reel“.  I start this dance with a “high ten” with partner as part of both forward and back figures.  I added skipping on the cast off under the arches, and the cascading swing (two hand turn around and around) as the gent goes down through the tunnel from top to bottom at the end of the dance sequence.


Auretti’s Dutch Skipper traditional Historic English Country Dance

This is from “The English Dancing Master” published by John Playford in 1651.  It is the kind of dancing that was done by the English aristocracy, and, later, also by common folk in English villages in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and is now being revived in England and the United States.  Although it is traditionally danced to the tune of the same name, we did it, and like doing it to “On the Danforth” from NEDM’s Sashay the DonutCD.  Here is Jack’s Heath“, not the same figures, but similar in style.

Here is the dance:

Formation: Longways Duple Proper for as many as will.

(Gents stay on gents’ side, Ladies on ladies’ side, all take hands from top in circles of four. Top couples in each circle of four are Ones or First couples.  Bottom couples in each circle of four are Twos or Second couple.)

A1: First couple walk down between the Second couple (briefly joining handy hands), separate, and walk individually around their neighbors and back to place.
First couple two hand turn.
A2: Second couple mirror what the First couple just did, walking up between the first couple, individually around neighbors and back to place.
Second couple two hand turn.
B1: First corners (First gent, Second lady) two hand turn.
Second corners two hand turn.
B2: Weaving poussette: All take two hands with partner.  With First gents pushing and Second gents pulling and all facing the same way throughout, Couples change places with Neighbors.
Proper means Gents stay on the gents side of the dance – the First couples do NOT trade places with partner as they do in improper duple longways sets.


Quartz Mountain Man in the Middle

This dance was created by teachers at the Oklahoma Arts

Formation: Circle mixer

Music: any reel medley

A1: Circle left, Circle Right
A2: All forward and back once.
Gents go forward (4 beats) and clap on beats 5, 6, 7 jumping on beat 7 and turning 180º in air and landing on beat 8, facing new partner
Women stay where they are, also clap on beats 5, 6, 7, jump TO THEIR RIGHT one place on Beat 7, landing on Beat 8..
B1: Long elbow swing with new partner (or dosido into elbow swing or gypsy into elbow swing or regular swing, which is what I did with you).
B2: Promenade new partner

The Big Enchilada moment in this dance is jumping on the clap of beat 7 in A2.  After clap #2, all wind up for the clap #3 jump by the crouching and leaning down you do to prepare for a big high jump, so that your hands are moving up as you clap, and the clap sort of “launches the rocket”.  That clap-and-jump is the first thing I practice when teaching this dance.  You jump on beat 7 and land on beat 8.


Sicilian Vowel Dance in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut

We like dancing this to “Golden Keyboard” from NEDM’s “Any Jig or Reel“).   You need at least 20 and preferably at least 24 dancers for this dance to work well.


Intersection Reel in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut

This is my version of a dance that was created by Warren Doyle.  The original version has four sets in an “X” formation.  I love doing it with six sets as we did last Friday.  Here I am calling it in the traditional formation at one of our Pourparler Conferences


Monterey Detour by Bob Dalsemer

A wonderful simple contra dance for upper elementary children who have some dance experience (including having already done the contra dance “Haste to the Wedding” from NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”).


Circle Waltz Mixer in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut”

We dance this to “In Continental Mood” from the “Sashay the Donut” CD.  HERE IS A YOUTUBE OF ME TEACHING THIS TO CHILDREN.  While this is a wonderful dance for upper elementary students, I have done this dance successfully with 2nd graders by replacing the two hand turn with a slow bow to your partner at the end of the sequence.   Here is
Me teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer
And dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer


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Saturday 4:00 – 5:00 • I’m Growing Up – Fingerplays, Action Songs, Singing Games and Stories for Young Children


The Sun Is In My Heart in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
We often start a Kindergarten or preschool music/movement session with this calming, centering activity.

 A Little Seed in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
We learned this from Andy Davis, the co-editor along with Mary Alice of “I’m Growing Up“.

 I Have Ten Little Fingers in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
We like doing this as a slightly spooky fingerplay.

 Form the Corn in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
This is a sure fire dance activity for all ages and all situations.

Strolling in the Park in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
Thanks to our friend Valerie Kosednar for creating this gem.

Sleeping Bunnies in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
I mentioned Ann Green Gilbert’s “Brain Dance” resources (book, DVD).  She taught us the concept of young children needing “floor time”.  That is one of the reason’s young children will ask for this dance over and over again.

Come Along Everybody in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
We learned this from Jennifer Armstrong.  She was a child in family that performed folk songs and storytelling, and when she married she and her husband and young children performed together.  Now in her 50’s, Jennifer is still an active singer/storyteller.  Her daughter Suzannah is a gifted traditional and choral singer who sings with our son and daughter-in-law Stefan and Zara in the extraordinary a cappella SATB chorus “The Starry Mountain Singers”.  Here they are singing my arrangement of Sam’s harmonization of “All Is Well” from the Sacred Harp.  We know teachers who start every music class with “Come Along Everybody”.

Highland Gates in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley” book and companion CD.
This is a great singing game for starting a community dance; no partners are required and latecomers can join in as they arrive.

Old Brass Wagon in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley” book and companion CD.
This is great as a simple singing game where children can make up their own motions and figures.  We also like doing it with the recording which we find a calming and centering dance experience for children.  I say “Just do whatever Mary Alice says” and I dance with children, pretending I, also, do not know what is coming next.

Tree Song in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley” book and companion CD
I introduced this with a story about Roger, who settled in Vermont, planted a tree on the occasion of his marriage to Mary, and a tree for each of their children and for every birthday, until, after 13 children, he had a whole hillside of appletrees.  When his youngest daughter married she stayed at home to help take care her parents Roger and Mary.  When this daughter had a child, Eliza, Roger loved carrying her out into the apple orchard and showing her his beloved apple trees.  He told her he knew every thing about his apple trees, but what he did not know was that his apple trees sang.  The reason he did not know was because they sang only when no one was around.  Do you want to learn the song?  Storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging children more deeply in singing games and songs.  We encourage you to take some of your music teaching time to simply tell your students folktales.  For most children, if you are not telling them folktales, then nobody is.  Back to the “Tree Song”; we have my piano/unison arrangement of the Tree Song available on our website sheet music purchase and download store.

I’m Growing Up in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
Mary Alice wrote this gem.  Make up your own motions with your students.

Here We Go Riding Our Ponies in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
A wonderful and engaging singing game that also teaches them about eye contact and greeting.

Seed in the Ground in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
also in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” book and companion CD.
also available as my piano/SSAA arrangement on the Amidons’ “Choral Sheet Music Download” page.  

Put Your Right Hand In in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
Thanks Bessie Jones, for this and many other great traditional African American singing games, work songs and spirituals.

Bye Bye Butterfly in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
We often end a dancing/singing session with young children with this playful call and response chant.


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 Saturday Evening Songfest 7:00 – 8:30

Tall Trees
We learned this from Robin Davis who learned it from Kathy Reid Naiman who said that the person she learned it from said it is a traditional Aboriginal Australian song.

This would be a wonderful All School Sing song.

Martin Luther King in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” CD and book.
We love this simple celebration of one of America’s greatest heros.

Harriet Tubman in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” CD and book.
A great song (and story) for upper elementary students, it is also a wonderful All School Sing song.

Vote for Me in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” CD and book.
Rose Sanders is the first African American female judge in Alabama.  She is a lawyer, educator and song writer living in Selma, Alabama.  She also wrote “I’m Gonna Lift My Sister Up”.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” CD and book.
Thanks to Amy Martin, visionary music teacher in Lititz Pennsylvania (the one who got a grant from their local Target store to have Mary Alice and I come to their school), who commissioned this song for their school’s “Celebrate Our Differences” fest.  I got inspiration for this song from READING Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Barack Obama’s April 2008 speech on race issues in the United States.

Red Red Robin
This was a favorite in the weekly All School Sing Mary Alice and I used to lead at Academy (public K-6) School.

(Seed in the Ground) We meant to teach and sing my SSAA/piano arrangement of Connie Kaldor’s great “Seed in the Ground” song, but the ledger lines disappeared (my bad – something about the transition from Finale to Tiff to Word to pdf).

      Here is a recording of this arrangement
, which is available on our online choral sheet purchase and download site at https://www.amidonchoralmusic.com.

Silver Rain in the Amidons’ “Song in My Heart” CD and book
and in the Amidon’s “Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir” collection of Amidon choral arrangements.  We facilitated you making up motions to the song, and then ended our singing session by singing “Silver Rain” with guitar, singing and motions, and then repeating it with just guitar and motions.  You can hear this and other arrangements from our “Fifty-five Anthems” collection here.

Fear Not the Pain in the Amidons’ “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith and Community Choirs”.
This song’s composer, Rachel Pollack, does workshops around the country on innovate worship practices including “paperless singing”. You can hear this and other arrangements from our “Twenty-five Anthems” here.

I’m Gonna Lift My Sister Up in the Amidons’ Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith and Community Choirs“.
Thanks to Faya Rose Toure, who also wrote “Vote for Me“.

How Could Anyone Ever Tell You in the Amidons’ Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith and Community Choirs”.
We sing this song a lot in our hospice singing visits with Hallowell, the hospice singing group that I co-direct.  Someone told me after last night’s sing that she taught my three-part arrangement of this song to her middle school choir, and that the children loved the song and that many parents were quite moved by hearing their children sing this song.  I sang it to my Mom on her 86th birthday.

We talked about hospice singing. Here is a link to Hallowell, the hospice singing group I co-direct.

How Can I Keep from Singing
I arranged this for our hospice Hallowell singers.  The arrangement had its premiere at a concert/singalong event I helped organize and host in Brattleboro Vermont last May to honor and celebrate Pete Seeger’s life.  Here is a sequence I like to do with this arrangement:

* Once through with all singing “Oooooh” on their four parts.

* Sing first, then second, then third verse, all singing words in the four-part harmony.

* Finish the third verse with the kind of rubato rhythms that indicate that the song is ending.

* Sing the first half of the first verse, quitly and with a lot of rubato.  End on the word “creation”.  I will be publishing this arrangement in a later printing of our “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith and Community Choirs” and I will be making it available on our online choral sheet music online store some time in the next few months.

Now It’s Time to Go in the Amidons’ Song in My HeartCD and book.
We know music teachers who use this three-part round to end every music class.

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Keep on singing and dancing!


Peter and Mary Alice