Iowa AOSA Workshop Oct 2014

First Iowa Orff
Peter and Mary Alice present *

Creating a Dynamic Learning Community
with Traditional Dance, Singing and Storytelling

Saturday, October 4, 2014


THANK YOU: Aaron Hansen for all your work setting this up and helping us out with getting to and from the airport and for a lovely Friday evening meal.  Thanks to everyone else for your work making this possible, and to all of the participants.  We were impressed with your enthusiasm and level of involvement; we had a wonderful time with all of you!


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MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

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

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

Sam singing

Sam fiddling

Sam’s wife Beth Orton 

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

Here is a listing of contra and square dancing in Iowa:

Here is a great educational opportunity that is in
Dodgeville, Wisonsin; only two hours from Waterloo

Pourparler   a national conference on teaching folkdance to children
founded by Sanna Longden.

which is happening in a few short weeks and still has space (Thursday – Sunday, Nov 13- 16 at Folklore Village in Dodgeville, Wisconsin).  Contact Sanna and Mars Longden at

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Blaydon Races not in handout – in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk” 
For music we used “Blaydon Races” from “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD (2012 edition). 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 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.  Here is how the dance goes:
Formation: Circle Mixer
Music: “Blaydon Races” from “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD, or any jig medley.
A1 (16) Forward and back twice. The second time end up facing partner and holding two hands with partner.
A2 (16) All move towards center: step, together, step, together, then move back to outside: step, together, step, together. Repeat that whole sequence once.
B1 (16) All say goodbye to partner, pass right shoulders with partner, and allemande right NEW partner, then allemande left new partner. (right hand turn, then left hand turn with‘arm wrestling’ grip)
B2 (16) All promenade this new partner.

My Heart is Ready p. 4 in the handout

Sun Is In My Heart p.7 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.

A Little Seed p. 3 in the handout
in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD

Form the Corn p 13 in the handout.
in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
This is a great activity to use anytime, anywhere; children can just stand from their chairs or desks and do the dance.

Traffic Jam p. 9 in handout
Scatter mixer.
Although you can use any reel medley (like the French Canadian reels from “Sashay the Donut”) for this dance, it is best to use an ABAB tune (rather than the usual AABB).  The one ABAB tune we have on our recordings is “Heel & Toe Polka” from Chimes of Dunkirk, which works great for Traffic Jam.

Old Brass Wagon p.2 in the handout – 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.

Hop Up, My Ladies p. 7 in the handout.
We are huge fans of Elizabeth Mitchell’s children’s music. Also (a little off-topic here) Dan Zane’s children’s music!

Dance teaching tips
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  p. 9 in the handout – in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk
We danced this to “Toast” from “Other Side of the Tracks


PICTURE BOOKS I See bibliography; which I think is being emailed to you.  Please let me know if you do not get it soon.  It was supposed to be included in the handout.

Day is Done

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

When I Grow Up

Wake My, Shake Me 
This is in our collection 
“I’m Growing Up”


Seed in the Ground by Connie Kaldor
This is in our “Song in My Heart” book and CD of children’s songs.

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

Brotherhood & Sisterhood p. 12 in the handout.
This is in our Song in My Heart” book and CD of children’s songs.  It was commissioned by Amy Martin for the Lititz, Pennsylvania Elementary School.

I’m Growing Up p. 8 in the handout
This is in our Song in My Heart” book and CD of children’s songs.
We did this standing up with motions to the recording on the “Song in My Heart” CD.

Here We Go Riding Our Ponies p. 9 in the notes.
in NEDM’s 
I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD
Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.

Oats Peas Beans p. 6 in the handout
We love this odd and very English singing game.

Kindergarten Reel p. 7 in the handout
The dance is in “Listen to the Mockingbird” but we haven’t yet put this more recent recording of the music on that CD:
Kindergaren Reel music.  If you cannot download it from there, send me an email request and I will email you the mp3.

Accretion Reel p. 5 in the handout.
Try this with your older students, or at a community dance.

Old Bald Eagle Square p.2 in the handout
In NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” book and companion CD.
For music use the “Old Bald Eagle” cut on Sashay the Donut.
This is a perfect first square dance for younger children.

Solomon Levi Square p. 7 in the handout.
In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut” book and companion CD.

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.

Durham Reel p. 8 in the handout.
In NEDM”s “Chimes of Dunkirk” book and companion CD.
We used ‘Slow G’ from NEDM’s ‘Sashay the Donut’ CD; Assembly/Popcorn Behavior (the same band that recorded Other Side of the Tracks) at their dreamy best.


Poem of the Day
Shakespeare’s sonnet #37 (the final part of my toast at my son, Stefan and Zara’s wedding a few weeks ago).

Humpty Dump p. 3 in the handout.
A great way to expand older children’s repertoire of classic nursery rhymes.

The All School Sing

      From the Seed in the Ground SSAA
 p. 15 in the handout.
This arrangement: SSAA/piano, can be purchased as a sheet music download from Mary Alice’s and my website

How Can I Keep from Singing p. 14 in the 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.

PICTURE BOOKS II See picture book bibliography which will be emailed to you.

I Miss You Every Day

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Day Is Done

Storytelling with your students p. 18 in your handout.

The below is already in your notes, but it is so important that I am copying it again here:
Mary Alice and I find storytelling to be the most immediate, consistently powerful focusing activity we do with children.  Where I used to think of storytelling as a survival technique, a last-ditch management tool, now I realize that it can be one of the most important and precious gifts we can give to our students.

Some of you might be saying: “But I have never told a story.  I am not a storyteller.”  Hogwash.  You are telling stories all the time.   You tell your colleagues about a wonderful or challenging event in a music class.  You tell your loved ones about an unforgettable event that happened at a wedding or a funeral or a Thanksgiving gathering.  You tell your own children about when you were a child.   You are the expert teller of these, your stories.

So your first stories for your students might be about your life: about when you were growing up, or about a real event that happened to you recently.  The children will love these stories: they open a window to the children of who you are.

Now keep your storytelling style more or less the same as telling these personal stories and switch to folktales.  You know quite a few already, and very few if any children in your class will have heard these stories simply told before.  Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Mitten, Little Red Riding Hood, you add to the list.  Being a music teacher gives you the advantage of practicing the same story with various classes, but remember, in traditional storytelling, children love hearing stories again and again.   At first you tell the story, then the children help tell you the story, then you and the children act out the story.

Children want stories, children need stories.  Children’s synapses are constructed in such a way that storytelling, especially the telling of traditional folktales, puts them into a deeply receptive state, a mild trance really.  The universally recognized archetypal characters in folk and fairy tales (kings, queens, giants, witches, ogres, princes, princesses, talking animals, bullies, unselfish younger siblings) help children figure out the moral fabric of life. It gives them a place to put the mysteriously unpredictable mood swings of the powerful adults around them, and it helps them deal with their own fears and joys.

As it is very likely that children are hearing folktales rarely if ever outside of the music classroom, I, Peter Amidon, do hereby authorize all you music teachers to tell stories to your students.

Eye of the Needle
Mary Alice learned this story from a picture book of the same name.  She made up the songs to go along with it.

Peddler’s Dream traditional folktale
I have forgotten where I first learned this folktale.  It is a variant of the ancient folktale type:
“The Man Who Became Rich Through A Dream” 
which goes back to the “1001 Arabian Nights” and before.  Here is a website devoted to variants of this tale:

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 boy asked the peddler how much it cost.”
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.

Community Dance

Bridge of Athlone – p. 5 in the handout
In NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird” book & companion CD.
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 yesterday.  We find this to be an engaging dance for 2nd – 6th and great for a community dance.

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, 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.

First Iowa Palindrome by Participants in Peter and Mary Alice’s October 2014 First Iowa Orff Workshop.
Formation: Circle Mixer
Music: Three part jig or reel.  Try “Reel de Rimouski” on “Any Jig or Reel”
A1 Circle left, Dosido partner
A2 See saw corner, circle left
B1 Circle right, See saw corner
B2 Dosido partner, Forward and back
C1 Starting with partner, grand right and left eight changes
C2 Promenade new partner

From the Seed in the Ground  again; this time with piano

How Can I Keep from Singing again, this time standing on the floor in SATB sections.  Beautiful singing!

Bye Bye Butterfly p. 8 in the handout.
Mary Alice learned this from a kindergarten student.  It is in our “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

Larry’s Mixer p. 6 in the handout
From NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird” book and companion CD.
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.

Happy dancing, singing and storytelling with your students!


Peter (and Mary Alice)