Florida FMEA Workshops


Peter and Mary Alice’s Florida FMEA workshops
New Dances for K-6 • Evening Community Dance • Storytelling/Literature/Picture Books

Each of the Amidons workshops will have post workshop notes.  Scroll down to find the “New Dances for K-6”,  the “Evening Community Dance” and “Storytelling/Literature/Picture Books/Music post-workshop notes.

Thursday/Friday, Jan 11, 12, 2018
Tampa Convention Center

Thanks to West Music and Judi Pine for sponsoring our visit here. Thanks for the FMEA staff, especially Rosemary Pilonero, Tracy Lisi and Joanie Slawson.

The next section is a little about Mary Alice and me and our family.  That is followed by our  post-workshop notes.

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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Mary Alice and I are also choral arrangers and choral singing leaders.  Here is my daughter-in-law Zara Bode singing the solo in my piano/SATB arrangement of Phil Ochs’ “There But For Fortune” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–0CxVbFPoI and Mary Alice’s a cappella SATB setting of an Isaac Watts poem: “Sweet is the Day” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqJlBSrI5lQ

I am the co-director and Mary Alice a member two Southern Vermont choruses:
– Hallowell, an a cappella SATB hospice choir in Southeastern Vermont that has been the inspiriration for the formation scores of other hospice choirs across the United States. – http://hallowell-singers.org/
-Guilford Community Church, UCC Choir – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImeixO9swz0&t=16s

Our choral arrangements are available on our Online Choral Store.

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 Go to your own local dances • http://www.contradancelinks.com/schedule_FL.html •  http://dancefl.us/contra/index.phphttp://dancefl.us/ecd/index.php

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

New Dances for K-6
Thursday, Jan 11, 9:00 – 10:00 am

The Gifts We Bring – We music teachers have so many opportunities to leave students with life-long gifts.  Life-long gifts from dance include some basics like left and right, posture, clockwise/counterclockwise, and other spatial awareness concepts.  They include an instinctive, visceral understanding of musical phrase and rhythm.  They include social skills of respect and group cooperation without which dances simply will not work. But the deepest lesson is the deep joy, the group joy that can come out of dancing. You can create a culture that fosters that joy by leading dances you are excited about, by dancing to music you love, by turning off for a while your teach-management thoughts and let yourself get lost in dancing with your students.

Choreography – When children dance with beautiful, flowing, musical choreography, they get a deeper joy from the dancing.


Here is the handout for this workshop

and here is the handout for the evening dance workshop which is quite relevant to this workshop as well.

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.

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.   

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.

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.

Noble Duke of York – in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise and also in Alabama Gal book/CD/DVD
This is in NEDM’s “Alabama Gal” book/CD/DVD.  I added the up, down halfway up and jumping movements that the rest of the dancers do while the top couple sashays down the middle and back.  My favorite moment is when the top couple’s sashay back up the middle turns into a skipping cast off just as the other dancers land from their jump and, skipping, follow the lead couple in the cast off.

Skipping – I talked about the Mark Morris Dance Company because of their great dancing, of course, but also their use of great music and musicians.  Here is a Mark Morris show we saw; Mark Morris choreography set to a jazz trio performing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v89BcXz8pBE . . . but I am off subject.  What they did in that same concert was a piece that was based on skipping.  Skipping is one of the gifts we music teachers can give to our students.  I don’t teach skipping (“this is how your feet move”).  Instead, I model skipping, and find students who are great skippers to model skipping.  Today we incorporated skipping into “The Noble Duke of York”, as you can with any cast off dance.  Here is a Youtube of children dancing “Bridge of Athlone” with the same kind of cast off skipping we did in “The Noble Duke of York” today.  They had learned the dance from their FIFTH GRADE TEACHER and I had refined it a bit before I took this video of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgY2tNASBD0

Grand March in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut
I taught you only the chorus of the Grand March, (instructions in the handout). I do a slightly different version from the one in “Sashay the Donut”.  The dancers were too crowded for me to do any of the verses: the spirals, the cast off series, bridges.  Here is a Youtube video of our New England Dancing Masters colleague Andy Davis leading the “Grand March”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9gIFJgDT_c
Teaching right hand round partner left hand round neighbor (corner) dosido partner, see saw corner:
* Promenade partner and determine inside (left/gent) partner and outside (right/lady) partner.
* When you allemand right partner, all inside dancers start on the inside, all outside dancers start on the outside.
* While you allemand right partner you look for your neighbor; “neighbor, neighbor”
* When you allemand left your neighbor the inside dancers STILL start on the inside, outside dancers still start on the outside.
* To teach the dosido partner and see saw (left shoulder dosido) neighbor start by saying “partner right hand turn NOT!” (which means do the same figure but don’t take hands; don’t touch); then see saw neighbor by saying “neighbor left hand turn NOT”.

Sellinger’s Round from John Playford’s 1651 “The Dancing Master”.
See handout for instructions and music.  I apologize that I taught the “siding” figure incorrectly.  You would practice by doing a partner two-hand turn halfway to the RIGHT and then back to the left: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOUCrAQNE1g
Setting: Here is a great demonstration of setting.  The second half of the demonstration is exactly what you do in the first part of the chorus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctfed3k44b8
Set, turn single
– The second part of this video demonstration is the “set to partner, turn single” exactly as is is in the second part of the chorus figure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF8vJUcCCj8

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Evening Community Dance
Thursday, Jan 11, 8:00 – 9:30 pm


Here is the handout.

Comment ça va in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donutbook/CD
formation: Circle of couples
music: Any reel medley
A1 (16): Forward and back (8)
Forward and back again (8)
A2 (16): Circle Left (8)
Circle right (8)
B1/B2: (32) Allemand left corner (about 6)
Dosido Partner (about 6)
Allemand left corner again (about 6)
Promenade partner (or short swing with
partner, then promenade) (about 14)

More notes – Use any reel medley for this. I made this dance up as a way to combine some new choreographic dance elements with classic traditional dance figures.  When teaching the main figure (B1 – Allemande left Neighbor, dosido PARTNER, Allemande left Neighbor into promenade Partner.  It is not a mixer) here is some language you might try or adapt: “Bow to your Partner. Turn your back on your Partner and say to this new person on the other side of you from you partner: ‘You are my Neighbor’. Allemande left your Neightor while looking for your partner.  Dosido your partner while looking for your neighbor.  Alementar left your neighbor while looking for your partner. Shake & Take with partner, and promenade.
Try creating a new dance like this with your students.

Bridge of Athlone – In NEDM’s Listen  to the Mockingbirdcollection.
Formation: Longways set for 6-8 couples
Music: Reel de Rimouski (recorded on NEDM’s Any Jig or Reel CD) or Blarney Pilgrim (recorded on Listen to the Mockingbird CD) any 48 measure (AABBCC) tune.
A1 (16) All forward & back, clapping partners two hands on the fourth beat of the music in a “high ten”. (8)
All cross over to partner’s place, passing right shoulders.  (8)
A2 (16) All forward and back, clapping partners two hands on the fourth beat of the music in a “high ten”.  (8)
All cross back to original place, crossing right shoulders again.  (8)
B1 (16) First couple take two hands and sashay down the center.  (8)
Sashay back to the top of the set.  (8)
B2 (16) First couple cast off and all follow behind down the outside of the set.
It is wonderful if the dancers skip all the way through this figure. (16)
C1 (16) First couple make a two hand arch at the bottom of the set.  Other dancers  meet their partners below the arch, take one hand with partner, duck under  the arch, and walk back to place. All but the original first couple take two  hands and make arches, forming a long tunnel.  (16)
C2 (16) The original first lady goes up the center through the tunnel while first gent  goes up the outside of his side of the set (behind the gents line)  (8) Then the original first gent goes down the center through the tunnel while the first lady goes down the outside of her side of the set (behind the ladies’ line). Then all step back to place to prepare for the opening forward and back.  (If you want, you can have each couple go into a two hand swing (around and around and around) as soon as the gent has gone down through their arch.) (8)

More notes –If you have sets of, say, 7 – 9 couples and encourage the children to skip through the cast off under the arches, the dance works very well with the three parts (AABBCC) of “Reel de Rimouski”. 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.  Here are some 4th graders dancing this version of the dance.  They had learned it from their 4th grade teacher and I had worked on it with them a bit more just before I filmed this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgY2tNASBD0&t=2s

Lucky Seven In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
Music: any jig or reel. We used “The Coming Dawn” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks” CD
Formation: Circle of partners
A1 (16) Circle to left (8)
Circle to right (8)
A2 (16) All forward and back (8)
All face partner and get ready (8)
B1 (16) Grand right and left, passing six people and stopping at seventh.
B2 (16) Promenade this new person around circle, gents on the inside, lades on outside (12)
All join hands in one big ring, ready to circle left . (4)
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.

More notes –This is a great dance for teaching the Grand Right & Left. I have the children stop counting out loud at some point. The children and I often get mesmorised by the experience of dancing this together to the beautiful “Coming Dawn” track from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks”.

Mrs. Donovan’s Double Slingshot Bridge by Mrs. Donovan’s Fifth Grade class
Longways for 8 or 10 or 12 couples (this description is based on 8-couple set.
A1: Forward, clap ptnr’s hands on 4th beat, back to place
Right hand turn
A2: Two hand turn
B1, B2: Double cast off: inside couples lead the cast:
4th, lead 3rd, 2nd 1st couples casting around to top, 4th make arch,
3rd, 2nd, 1rst under arch and back to place
WHILE 5th lead 6th, 7th, 8th couples cast around to bottom, 5th make arch,
6th, 7th, 8th couples through arch and back to place.
At end of cast, the arching couples RUN clockwise to join the other end of the set.

More notes –This dance came out of a residency I was doing; I was having Mrs. Donovan’s class create a dance (see below).  One boy described something that seemed so bizarre and unworkable that I was tempted to dismiss it, but I followed my rule of trying out as many suggestions as possible and this was the dance that resulted.  I often lead this now at community dances.

CREATING AN ORIGINAL DANCE WITH YOUR STUDENTS I start with the question: “What is a dance?” A dance starts with a formation (or a shape): longways (line of partners facing each other), circle (partners in circle) or  square (four couples facing in). There is also the Sicilian Circle formation (couple facing couple around a circle)  And also the concentric circle formation where couples are in a circle with, say, the gents facing out and  the ladies facing in. Then there are the figures, which is, simply what the dancers do in the dance.  Some obvious figures include some you do with the whole group (let’s say we’re doing a circle mixer): Forward and back, Circle left, Circle right, Grand Right and Left, etc. and figures you do just with your partner (or neighbor): Right hand turn, Dosido and some that are a bit of both like Promenade. It is OK to have an original figure or two in our original dance, but not too many.  Mostly you should have familiar, common figures that dances can learn quickly. Once we (or I) decide on a formation, I simply say, “What first.” and do whatever the first person suggests. You might have them raise hands with suggestions to help keep a bit of order and fairness. I try to use as many of the children’s  ideas as possible, and I almost always have the children try out dancing a suggested figure before discussing it. Your job is also to facilitate the children creating a dance that is fun to do.  You might make a small suggestion here and there, especially one that might help make a student’s suggestion more successful and flowing. The children can help figure out how to make the dance fit the AABB of the music. Once you and your students have made up a dance, it is important to name the dance.  This is the same process as making up the dance.  I take in suggestions and facilitate the decision making.  Sometimes we combine the words in two or three different suggestion.  Sometimes we vote on two or three different name candidates.  Sometimes someone comes up with a suggestion so inspired that I declare it the official name by acclamation. When students create their own dance, they really take ownership of it.

Tuesday Peter’s adaptation of “Durham Reel”, a traditional English country dance in “Chimes of Dunkirk”
Formation: Longways dance for 6 – 8 couples
MusicSlow G from NEDM’s Sashay the Donut CD, or any jig.
This dance does not need to go exactly with the phrasing of the music.
Take hands in a circle and circle left and right.
Top (Lead) couple lead a cast off around outside.  Lead couple meet partner at bottom, take one hand, and promenade back to top; all others follow.
Lead couple lead 2nd cast off.
Lead couple make arch at bottom of set, other couples take one hand with partner and go under the arch; the first couple through the arch becomes the new lead couple.  After the last couple goes through the arch, the arching couple follows and becomes the last couple. (In the original “Durham Reel” the top couple does not make an arch here, they simply continue leading the dance and there is no progression – e.g. the same top couple continues leading the dance through each sequence of the dance.)
This new lead couple hang on to partner’s hand and lead a promenade around to the left and back to place; all follow.  This is called ‘Coach and Horses’.
Lead couple lead ‘Coach and Horses’ promenade to the right and back to place.
All take hands along lines and at the bottom (but not the top) thus forming a semicircle.  Top two ladies (‘Queens’) make the Queen’s Arch, by raising their held hands.  Top gent (‘King’) lead the entire line through the Queen’s arch.  The top ‘Queen’ keeps her feet planted throughout; the second ‘Queen’ follows the rest under the arch, and changes her grip with the first ‘Queen’ as her hand twists around.
Top Queen lead lines through the King’s Arch, and back to place.

More notes –I put on the music, talk the children through my posture exercise, dub each child a king or queen, and, still with the music on, walk them through the dance.

Circle Waltz Mixer in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” book/CD
Music: “In Continental” waltz from Sashay the Donut CD
or any waltz, played ABAB (not AABB).
Formation: circle of partners
A (48) Take hands around circle and step in and out.  (6)
Gents roll lady on left from left to right*.  (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6)
Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right. (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6)
Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right. (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6)
Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right, but this time the gent turns right (facing CCW) taking both hands with this lady. (6)
B (48) With this new partner step in towards the center, swinging arms in, and then step out, swinging arms out.  (6)
Step in swinging arms in, let go of partner’s hands and each of you turn single (gent turning CCW and lady turning CW). (6)
Take hands with partner again and reverse:
Step out, swinging arms out and in swinging arms in. (6)
Step out swinging arms out, let go of partner’s hands and each of you turn single (gent turning CW and lady CCW). (6)
Two hand turn; end on original sides, and take hands in big circle to start the whole sequence over again.  (24)

More notes –In teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer I start by having everyone promenade and having the inside partner say “I am a rock.” and the outside partner say “I am a twirler”.  Here is a Youtube of me teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmHT0JtbqSc&t=23s
ane here is a Youtube of dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivg4OsR3OeI

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Storytelling, Literature, Picture Books & Music

Friday, Jan 12, 10:30 – 11:30 am

Here’s the handout.

A crow that shook down on me
The dust of snow from a hemlock tree
Has given my heart a change of mood
And saved some part of a day I had rued.

-Robert Frost

Sylvie traditional, from Huddy Ledbetter
I introduced this with a story based on the fact that my father’s father’s father, Winfield Amidon, grew up in East Middlebury Vermont with five brothers, all with names beginning with “W”.  I made up the part about Sylvie.  Some of the best and easiest stories to tell children are true stories about your childhood and life; or you can incorporate details from your life into the folktales and made-up stories that you tell them.
I have composed a piano/SA arrangement of “Sylvie” on our Online Choral Store: https://amidonmusic.com/all-sheetmusic/secular/147-sylvie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdfcD7Jy3KI 

Enhancing nursery rhymes with storytelling
I did “The Eensy Weensy Spider”, “Little Miss Muffet” and “Hickory Dickory Dock” with some added storytelling and motions; great favorites with my 2.75 year old grandson (as are “Goldilocks and theThe Three Bears”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Three Billy Goats Gruff”, “Three Little Pigs”, and “Kanji Jo the Nestling”, all of which he asks for by name.)

Humpty Dump – a traditional camp song
What a great vehicle for teaching children, especially older elementary children, classic nursery rhymes!

Picture Books
Day Is Done – a picture book of a song.
Mother Earth – a picture book with background music
Time for Bed – a picture book with a poem that Mary Alice made up a tune for.  Here’s the tune.
– Madeline – a picture book with background music
We encourage you to find your own picture book/music connections.

Kanji Jo the Nestling
My version of a Liberian folktale collected and retold by Margaret Read MacDonald in her “Tuck Me In Tales”.  I made up a different melody for the song in the story: https://amidonmusic.com/images/KanjiJoTune.pdf
As you can see, this is a terrific story to act out with children.  You were amazing today!

Acting Out Stories
Children do this quite naturally; you just  set it up and, as much as possible, get out of the way.  After telling a folktale I give them the homework to retell it aloud,  we might go through a speed through of the story or do a quick group map of the story or discuss the story (What was the funniest/saddest/most scary/most memorable moment?)   Once they all know the story well, you are the narrator, and maybe also the musician (guitar, accordion).  Pull the characters (and human props) from the ‘audience’ of children sitting in a bunch in front of the ‘stage’. All the action takes place right in the middle in front of the audience.  The ‘actors’ speak loudly so everyone can hear.  If they forget what happens next you can feed them a line as the narrator: “And then Arthur asked Sir Gromer what the riddle was.” You can use this method to create a musical performance with added instrumental music, songs and dancing, or just do it once for its own sake and leave it at that.

Chiney Doll
We learned our version from the great Ozarks ballad singer Almeda Riddle.  Here she is singing “I Love My Little Rooster”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtbPk5NsEQA
Here is the music to our version: https://amidonmusic.com/images/ChineyDoll.pdf
The story I introduce the song with was inspired by the picture book by Harvey Zemach.  I always told then 2-year-old Sam that story before singing the song, so when Mary Alice asked him to sing the song he said “First I have to tell the story” and told the story we played for you this morning.

When Sam was grunting and pausing through his storytelling, it was not that he could not remember the story.  It was that he was struggling to change the images of the story into language.  That is one of the keys to the power of storytelling.

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We had a wonderful time with you today!  Keep singing and dancing!


Peter and Mary Alice – October 21, 2017