Fort Worth Bass Teacher Workshop Notes

Fort Worth Bass Teacher Workshop




THANK YOU: To Sue Buratto for all the work you did and do to make this kind of workshop possible, and to everyone else who has helped us so much on our visit.


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:

North Texas Contra Dance website

and here below is a website for finding contra dances outside of this area:

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Wednesday Workshop notes

We love working with all of you!   Here is what we did today (Wednesday, August 6, 2014)

Blaydon Races in your notes and NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”
for music we used “Blaydon Races” from “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD (2012 edition)

Sun Is In My Heart in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

My Heart is Ready by Cindy Kallet, arr. P. Amidon.
In Amidons’ “Twenty-five Anthems” collection and available on the Amidons’ website choral music listening/sheet music download page.

Riding Our Ponies in your notes
and in NEDM’s 
I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

Traffic Jam in your notes.
a great dance for older elementary children.

Now It’s Time to Go in Amidons’ “Song In My Heart” book and CD.

I’m Growing Up in your notes.
in Amidons’ Song in My Heartbook and CD and NEDM’s I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

From the Seed in the Ground  in your notes
in Amidons’ 
Song in My Heart” book and CD and NEDM’s I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

I Live in Music 



Water of Life  learned from Motoko


Highland Gates in your notes.
in NEDM’s 
Down in the Valley” book and CD

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 partner’s hand, hang on, take partner’s left hand 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.”; 9 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 your notes.
in NEDM’s 
Chimes of Dunkirk


Fox – in Amidons’ Song in My Heart” CD & book.

Owl & Pussycat  in Amidons’ Song in My Heart” CD & book.


Humpty Dump – in your notes.
camp song; source unknown.  Great song for doing nursery rhymes with older children.  Have them help you remember the nursery rhymes, and recite them all the way through before putting them into the song.

Choosing partners story
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

We used “On the Danforth” from “Other Side of the Tracks” CD.  You can also use “On the Danforth” (different version) from “Sashay the Donut” CD.

12:00 LUNCH!

Poem of the Day

Surprise Breakfast – by David Romtvedt

Harriet Tubman  by Walter Robinson
in Amidons’ book & CD “Song in My Heart

Martin Luther King – in your notes.

Brotherhood & Sisterhood – in your notes.


See picture book bibliography.

Marion Anderson



Strolling in the Park – in your handout.
in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

Sleeping Bunnies – in your handout
in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

Old Brass Wagon – in your handout
in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley

Bobolinka – in your handout
in NEDM’ “Jump Jim Joe/Rise Sally Rise

Old Bald Eagle Square – in your handout


Devil’s 3 Golden Hairs I
traditional folktale from Grimms

Alleluia (South Africa) – in your handout

Evening Shade – in your handout
for more info on shape note/Sacred Harp singing visit

How Can I Keep from Singing – in your handout

Larry’s Mixer in your handout
You can do this to any jig or reel.  We used “Cheris” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks” CD, which starts quietly, almost meditatively and slowly builds the energy to the end.  It is an unusually long track (8:34) which allows dancers to really get into the groove and flow of the dance.  Try doing “Larry’s Mixer” NOT as a mixer for a week or two before doing it as a mixer.  A wonderful dance for older elementary age children.


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Sandy Boys – in your handout

I’m Growing Up – in your handout
We did this standing up with motions to the recording on the “Song in My Heart” CD.

Quartz Mountain – in your handout
We did this to “Galope de la Malbaie” from “Any Jig or Reel” CD.
You can do this dance to any reel medley.

Black Joke – in your handout
In “Chimes of Dunkirk” where, in the new edition, it is called “Hey Ho Diddley Dum”
You need to use the “Black Joke” (“Hey Ho Diddley Dum”) music from the Chimes CD for this dance.

Lucky Seven – in your handout.
We did this to “Coming Dawn” from “Other Side of the Tracks” CD.  You can do this dance to any jig or reel medley.
Here are the preparatory exercises we did:
The grand right & left exercises: First all promenade to determine inside/outside gent/lady or moon/star 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.

Rattlin Bog  in your handout
traditional Irish; children inhale this song.

Vote for Me – in your handout
Thank you Rose Sanders for this great song! 

All School Sing


Going on Safari

Mother Earth

Owl Moon – in your handout

Faerie’s Gift – traditional Irish

Tree Song – in your handout.
I introduced this song/singing game with a story about how Roger and Mary’s children grow up, the youngest daughter (of 13 children) moves with her husband and children with Roger and Mary.  That youngest daughter has a daughter named “Eliza”.  When Grandpa Roger carries baby Eliza out into the apple orchard he tells her he knows everything there is to be known about his apple Trees.  But there is one thing Roger does not know about the trees, and this is that they sing.  Roger had not found out because the trees some of the trees were dying.  We like doing it once without the recorded music, and then right away, repeat the singingame to the CD “Tree Song”.

Form the Corn in your handout.

Swing Party – by Peter Amidon
I use this dance to teach the swing:
A1 All wander around alone.
A2 Grab someone’s muscles and swing
B1 All wander around alone.
B2 Grab someone else’s muscles and swing
Here is a Youtube that includes some nice contra dance swinging.  It is the Dawn Dance in Brattleboro, a contra dance that goes from 8:00 pm until 7:00 am the following morning.  In this clip I am calling the 3:30 am – 7:00 am shift, and, as is our tradition, as soon it starts to be light enough outside, we turn off the lights to celebrate the dawn.

Exploding Star Mixer


balance circle of four, all ‘explode’ indiviually out)

All wander alone around the dance area.
A2 Gypsy & Swing someone.
B1 promedade that person anywhere
B2 Join another couple and circle four Left and Right.

Alleluia We taught this by ear.
We learned it from Kate Howard at a Harmony Singing week we run with her in Scotland every two years.

Daniel in the Den We taught this by ear.  It is from the singing of my personal hero of children’s music, Dan Zanes.  You can purchase this song on iTunes: Search for “Daniel in the Den Dan Zanes”. It is on his “House Party” CD.  BTW, Dan Zanes’ sister, Julia Zanes, did the artwork for our book and CD, “Song in My Heart“.  Julia Zanes husband Donald Saaf, who is also a gifted artist and popular illustrator of children’s books, is also a great singer and joins Dan Zanes in his performance of “Daniel in the Den” on Dan’s “House Party” CD.

How Can I Keep from Singing in your singing handout
I have tried to arrange this a few times, but never quite got it.  I was inspired to try again when I was involved in a few musical events honoring Pete Seeger after his death last winter, and finally came up with this arrangement which I am happy with.  Pete Seeger had a lot to do with making this song well known in the 60’s and 70’s.


From the Seed in the Ground (again) – in your handout.

Poem of the Day – Shakespeare Sonnet #29 

Review Jack & Devil 

Act out Jack & Devil
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 the peasant wife told the King what the boy’s fortune was.”
You can use this method to create a musical performance with added instrumental music, songs and dancing, or just do it once and leave it at that.

Jack & Devil part II

Grumpy March – in your handout
In “Sashay the Donut”.  Use “Wizard’s Walk” from the “Sashay the Donut” CD for this dance (or any reel medley).  I start teaching it by having everyone chant the opening figure without dancing it: “Grump, Grump, Grump, turn, together, right, together, left.”  It helps to practice (drill) having dancers quickly take hands in a circle right after the 2nd “Grump . . . clapping with partner” figure (at the beginning of A2).

Polka Contry – We used “Broken Lantern” which is a jig medley on “Any Jig or Reel” for this dance.  The dance is in “Sashay the Donut“:
Formation: Longways sets.  Dancers standing beside partners in a longways set, each couple across from another couple in the other line.  (The easiest way to make this formation is to have everyone promenade in a circle, then stop, and stretch the circle out into two lines.)  

Haste to the Wedding – in your handout
From our “Chimes of Dunkirk“. This traditional New England dance is the simplest contra dance we know.  We did it as an improper dance, where all of the #1 couples traded places with their partners.  You can do it gender free without having anyone cross over.  You can do this to any jig or reel, but, traditionally, it is done to the tune by the same name: “Haste to the Wedding” as played on the “Chimes” CD.

Gift of Love – in your handout.
Mary Alice wrote this tune as a setting of Leonard Cohen’s poetry “Dancing to the End of Love”, but the publishing company that owns the copyright to that song would not allow Mary Alice to publish her new setting of the poetry, so she wrote new poetry to her tune, inspired by her visits with her mother, who had Alzheimers.  I did this piano SATB arrangement for Mary Alice’s and my recently published “Twenty-five Anthems” collection; today was the first time we heard the arrangement, so thank you for that!

Wild Mountain Thyme – in your handout
This traditional English song is typically harmonized by ear.  A few weeks ago I Mary Alice and I went to the final performance of a week-long traditional music camp run by the three musicians who play on “Any Jig or Reel“: Keith Murphy, his wife Becky Tracy, and their colleague (and our New England Dancing Masters colleague) Andy Davis.  This was the last song of their performance; Keith had arranged it for fiddles, unison singing, and he played gorgeous chords on the piano.  I based this SATB arrangement on Keith’s brilliant chord progression.

Circle Waltz Mixer – in your handout
In “Sashay the Donut” – use “In Continental Mood”.  This is a wonderful dance for upper elementary school children.  I do with also with 2nd graders by replacing final figure of a two hand turn with a slow bow/open like a book and wait for the opening phrase to start the sequence again.  You can see me teaching it and dancing it with children here:

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Friday Workshop Notes


A Little Seed – in the handout
We find this to be quite calming.

Gate Swings Open 

– in the handout





Here is the Mountain – in the handout


3 Little Pigs – in the handout








himes of Dunkirk 

– in the handout


in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk
We often start a community dance with “Chimes of Dunkirk”.








Galopede – i

n the handout


in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”
We often end a community dance with Galopede where, the last time through, we have the dancers do the “eggbeater” figure.



Heel & Toe – in the handout

in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
We often go right from the clapping to pass right shoulders to new partner, eliminating the right elbow turn.

Alabama Gal in the handout
in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk
Do this as an a cappella singing game a few times before trying it with the music.

Comment ça va in the handout
in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut
This is a good preparation for “Simple Square” (in “Chimes of Dunkirk”
We danced this to “Toast” from “Any Jig or Reel

Community Dance


Chiney Doll see picture books bibliography
“Chiney Doll” is in our “Song in My Heart” book and CD.
I told an introductory story, and then played a recording of our son Sam, age two, telling that story before he sang “Chiney Doll”

Put Your Right Hand In – in the handout
Thank you yet again, Bessie Jones

Thorn Rosa – in the handout
in NEDM’s “Rise Sally Rise” (formerly “Jump Jim Joe”)

Going to Alberta – in the handout
in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut

Solomon Levi – in the handout
a wonderfully easy and engaging square dance.

From the Seed in the Ground “Flashmob” Dance
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..

This would be wonderful for an all-school sing with some guys (fathers? teachers?) singing the baritone.

Turn Around  in the handout
I am working on getting permission to sell my piano arrangement.  Try it with guitar accompaniment; children sing this really beautifully.  I have done it with 2nd graders, starting with a soloist.

If I Can Stop One Heart in your handout
I would love to hear children sing this; try giving them just the melody.

Intersection Reel – in your handout
Try this with a double class of fifth and/or sixth graders in the gym (doubling your physed and music classes).


Permanently by Kenneth Koch

Retelling of Part II of Devil’s Three Golden Hairs
I do this with children; the week after (or day after) you have told a folktale, have children volunteer to retell parts of it.  Have them sit in your chair and you sit on the floor with the rest of the children and LISTEN!  After each child say only “Thank you.”

Finish telling Devil’s Three Golden Hairs
My version of the Grimms folktale.

From the Seed in the Ground SSAA

Bridge of Athlone – in your handout

Original Dance
Cowtown Mixer
A1: Forward and Back, Circle L
A2: Forward and Back, Circle R
B1: Right elbow turn partner
Left elbow turn Neighbor
Gents twirl Partner from R to L
B2: All Set twice (facing center)
Dosido Partner.
This is a great! dance . . . Congratulations!



Wild Mountain Thyme – in your handout
This would be a wonderful song for upper elementary children.

From the Seed in the Ground SSAA/piano
This arrangement is for sale on our website choral store.

There But for Fortune – in your handout
This would be a great song for upper elementary children.

Turn Around – in your handout

Sicilian Vowel Dance – in your handout
We danced this to “Golden Keyboard” from “Any Jig or Reel” CD

Now It’s Time to Go – in your handout.
Sadly; we could have danced and sung with you forever . . .


Peter (and Mary Alice)