Greater Cincinnati Orff Chapter Notes



for Peter & Mary Alice’s four-hour workshop

Traditional Dance, Singing Games, and Storytelling with Children

Saturday, September 21, 2013 • Greater Cincinnati Orff Chapter

THANK YOU: To Lissa Ray who has been great to deal with from the start and who is not yet finished taking care of us (very early drive to the airport tomorrow morning; to Doug Bruestle for doing a great job on sound; to Dawn Bruestle for doing sales; to many more people who we know worked hard to make this workshop possible; and to all of you for your dynamic and enthusiastic participation.  We had such a wonderful time with you!


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Coming soon (in a few weeks):

Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir


Twenty-five Anthems for Small Church & Community Choirs


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MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:


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


Stefan’s girlfriend 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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Note: “NEDM” is our abbreviation for “New England Dancing Masters”.


Blaydon Races p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”

We used the ‘Blaydon Races’ cut 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.

The Sun is In My Heart p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

We find this to be calming and comforting both for us and the children.


Five Little Bunnies p. 11 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

Use your best Northern Kentucky, Southern Ohio lilting accent for this sweet, simple fingerplay.


Form the Corn p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

We love these “scatter formation” singing games; you can do there anywhere, anytime.  Other verses:

form potato, peel potato, mash potato

form the squash, slice the squash, squish the squash

form banana, peel banana, go banana


Old Brass Wagon p. 7 in handout

In NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection

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.

Galopede p. 9 in handout

In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection

We always do this to the specific tune ‘Galopede’ which is on the Chimes of Dunkirk companion CD. We often end a community dance with this dance. The 2nd version of ‘Galopede’ on the 2010 revision of the ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’ CD has an extra C music at the end for the ‘eggbeater’ figure where, after the top couple sashays to the bottom the last time through the dance, each successive couple sashays down the middle, while the outside couples continue moving up towards the top of the set.  Sometimes we practice this final figure ahead of time, sometimes we don’t.

PICTURE BOOK I pp. 13, 14, 15 in handout

I Live In Music

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Owl Moon

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

A Little Seed p. 2 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

We love “the little wait…” in this fingerplay/song.

I’m Growing Up p. 3 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

Make up your own motions for Mary Alice’s song.


The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner

Mary Alice is wild about this song, because children are so wild about it.


Here We Go Riding Our Ponies p. 5 in handout

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.



Kindergarten Reel p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird”

We use this as a first longways dance to instrumental music for Kindergarten children. You can do it playing anything: piano,  accordion, French horn, recorder, whatever; or you can use this recording we made but have not yet put on any of our NEDM CDs:

Virginia Reel p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”

Do this right after doing “Kindergarten Reel” with your younger students.  It is the simplest version of the Virginia Reel. We did: Forward & Back, One hand turn, Two hand turn, Dosido, top couple sashay down middle and back up middle.  Top couple (alone, no one follows) cast off around outside of set down to bottom; while other dancers move up one place.

Lucky Seven p. 8 in handout

In NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”

We like to use ‘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 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).


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 p. 10 in handout

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 (e.g. dances done in Jane Austen’s time).



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Seed in the Ground p. 4 in handout

In Amidon’s “Song in My Heart” book and CD

and in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.


Peddler’s Dream a traditional folktale


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 peddlar told the boy why he should take the wooden wagon.” 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.


Bridge of Athlone p. 11 in handout

In NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird” collection

This requires a 3-part tune.  ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’ has a three part jig: ‘Blarney Pilgrim’ that works great for this dance.  We really like dancing it to the three-part  ‘Reel de Rimouski’ on NEDM’s ‘Any Jig or Reel’ CD, which is what we did in Cincinnati.

Here is a Youtube video of some, I think, 4th graders doing the dance; their classroom teacher had taught  it to them, and I brushed it up a bit before we made this video:

Creating an Original Dance

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


and figures you do just with your partner (or neighbor)

Right hand turn


and some that are a bit of both like


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, in our case, “Jump!”. As the suggestions come in I might invite discussion about which suggestion to choose (if there are more than one).  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 discussin g 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.  It is also an option to ignore the AABB and make up a dance that goes across the AABB pattern 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, as  happened with us, 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.



Cincinnati Confusion by participants in Sept 2013 Cincinnati AOSA workshop

A1/A2: Forward & Back (8)

Allemande right partner (6)

Allemande left neighbor (6)

Grand right & left past your partner and past a 2nd person. (4)

Two hand turn with 3rd person, open like a book to face the center (8)

B1: Circle Right & Circle left (16)

B2: Forward, raising held hands up in the air, then back, lowering them.

Hands raised and facing out, clap hands with people on both sides of you eight times with the music. (16)

PICTURE BOOK I pp. 13, 14, 15 in handout

Day is Done

We All Went On Safari

Mother Earth

Psalm of Life p. 17 in handout

This will be in our “Twenty-five Anthems for Small Church & Community Choirs” collection.

You sounded so beautiful singing this. This is in the “We need to be fed musically, with adult musical and creative experiences in order to be a more complete music teacher and human being” department.

Lissa asked us to mention our work with Hallowell; Southern Vermont’s a cappella SATB hospice choir:

and here is an article I wrote Hallowell and hospice singing:


Sicilian Vowel Dance p. 10 in handout

In NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” collection

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 p. 10 in handout

In NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” collection

You can see the teaching and dancing of this in these two NEDM Youtubes:

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.

Happy dancing & storytelling.


Peter and Mary Alice