Nashville 2014 AOSA Post-Conference Notes

Nashville TN National AOSA Conference November 2014

Amidon post-workshop notes

THANK YOU to so many people who made this extraordinary conference possible!


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:

  *            *            *

MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

The Amidon Family  (with Stefan’s wife Zara Bode)

Stefan singing (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

*            *            *


Scroll down to the workshop you are interested in.  Below are notes for:

Storytelling, Picture Books, Literature and Music
(Thursday 8:00 am, repeat at 9:45 am)

Singing Games, Dances and Music Movement Activities for K-2
Thursday 2:15-315j; pm, repeat on Friday at 12:30 pm

Evening Communiy Dance
Friday, 9:30 – 10:30 pm

Teaching Traditional Dance to Upper Elementary Children
Saturday, 1:00 – 2:15 pm, repeat on Saturday; 3:15 – 4:30

*            *            *


* *

(Thursday 8:00 am, repeat at 9:45 am)

Crossing the Bar – by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The recording in the link above is Peter’s a cappella SATB arrangement of the song as sung by the Hallowell hospice singers, and as published in the Amidons “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs“.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep,
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Mary Alice and I sang the Rani Arbo setting of the poem which we learned from the album “Bottleneck Dreams” performed by Rani’s group “Salamander Crossing”.  You can purchase this cut on iTunes.  I sang melody and Mary Alice sang a made up harmony.  You can purchase my a cappella SATB arrangement of Rani Arbo’s setting of the poem on our Choral Sheet Music Download page: go to Secular SATB and scroll down to “Crossing the Bar”.

Whose Woods These Are on our CD All I Really Need
I introduced this with a story I made up about a man visiting his friend that incorporates elements of the poem.

Busy Monday Morning on our CD “All I Really Needand our Song in My Heart” book and CD.
I introduced this with a story I made up about a little girl, Eliza, who went out in the early morning to work with her father.  The song is traditional from Poland.

Humpty Dump – in the handout.
We like using this song as a way to reintroduce and reinforce nursery rhymes to older elementary age children.

Tree Song – in Down in the Valley” book and CD.
I introduced this song with a story about Roger taking his infant grandchild Eliza out into his apple orchard each morning.

Old Roger is Dead – in Down in the Valley” book and CD.
I continued the story of Roger, writing his will, and, later, Eliza telling the story to her friends of her Grampa Roger being buried under an apple tree, and then making up games about that.


Mary Alice’s bibliography of picture books/music

Mother Earth – by Nancy Luenn, Ill. Neil Waldman
Music – “Shadows of the Moon” by David Darling on his album “Amber”, available on iTunes

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Me – written and Ill. by Sandra Magsamen
Music – “Princess Nancy” on our sons’ band Popcorn Behavior’s album “Journeywork”, available on iTunes.

Hush Little Baby – traditional, ill. Marla Frazee.
Music “Hambone” from the New England Dancing Masters CD “Down in the Valley“.

I Miss You Every Day – Written and Ill. by Simms Taback.
This is a perfect companion book to Woodie Guthrie’s “Mail Myself to You” in our book and CD “Song in My Heart

Day Is Done – words and music by Peter Yarrow; ill. by Melissa SweetPeter Paul and Mary’s singing of this song is available on iTunes.

My Father – words and music by Judy Collins, Ill. by Jane Dyer.
Judy Collins achingly beautiful rendition of this song is available on iTunes.

Olive – Peter’s version of a traditional Italian folktale.
This is a story I rarely tell in public, but have told often to my children, godson, nephews, nieces and grandchildren.

The Whales Written and Ill. by Cynthia Rylant
Music: Paul Winter’s “Lullaby of the Mother Whale to Her Baby Seal Pups” on his album “Calling” available on iTunes.

* *

Thursday 2:15 pm, repeat on Friday at 12:30 pm

The Sun Is In My Heart in the handout
and in “
I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. We use this, and some of the next few, as much to calm and center ourselves as much as to engage young children in these meditative musical jewels.

A Little Seed in the handout
and in
I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
Thanks to Andy Davis for this gem.  We love the “little wait”.

The Gate Swings Open in the handout.

Here is the Mountain in the handout

Form the Corn in I’m Growing Up boiok/CD/DVD
This instantly engaging classic works for all ages in all situations.

Sleeping Bunniesin I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We learned from Ann Gilbert (Brain Dance) about how young children need “floor time”.  That is one reason why they will ask for “Sleeping Bunnies” over and over.

Here We Go Riding Our Poniesin I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We love how children learn about eye contact and polite greeting in this singing game.

I’m Growing Up in I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVDThis is also on our “Song in My Heart” book and companion CD of songs for children.
Mary Alice made up simple motions to her song about the stages of life.  We have known music teachers who have used this song for Kindergarten graduations.

Put Your Right Hand In in I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVDThank you Bessie Jones for your wonderful versions of common singing games.

Come Along Everybody in I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD

Highland Gatesin Down in the Valley
I love how the shrinking outside circle has to keep enclosing the increasing numbers of dancers inside the circle.

Old Brass Wagonin Down in the Valley
This can be done as an a cappella singing game where students might make up some of the motions.  We did it as an early experience for young children to dance to instrumental music (albeit with Mary Alice singing the calls).  I get them in a circle, establish who their partners are, make sure they all know the forward and back, circle left and right, dosido and two hand turn figures, and then tell them “Do whatever Mary Alice says.”  I put the music on and pretend that I, also, do not know what Mary Alice is about to say.

Hop Up, My Ladies by Mary Alice Amidon
Circle of partners
“Hop Up My Ladies” as sung by Elizabeth Mitchell on her album “Blue Clouds” (you can purchase this cut on iTunes).
If you ever go to meeting..
March single file to the left.
Don’t mind the weather cause the wind don’t blow.
Clap, clap, stamp stamp stamp on underline words.
Hop up my ladies three in a row…
Hop on the word “Hop”
Don’t mind the weather cause the wind don’t blow.
Clap, clap, stamp stamp stamp on underline words.
Can your horse’a carry double…
Partner two hand turn.
Don’t mind…
(as before)
Is your horse a single footer…
Galop to center and back twice.
During the instrumental in the middle of the piece do the marching single file to left figure.
Continue following motions with words as above.

Owl Moon – the song by Bruce O’Brien which goes along with the picture book “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen.
There are a few lovely versions of the Bruce O’Brien song on iTunes by: Jack Pierson, Kathy Reid-Naiman (whom we learned it from), Anna Stange and Lisa Biales.  Mary Alice told a summary of the story from the Jane Yolen book.

Boblinka in Rise Sally Rise
We did this only in the Thursday workshop.This is a great first longways dance for children.  I have changed the words a little from our “Rise Sally Rise” (formerly “Jump Jim Joe”) book/recording to describe the figures:
Forward we go, Bobolinka, Back we go, Bobolinka. . . Won’t you be my partner.
Two hands around, Boblinka . . . Right back where you started
Up and down, Bobolinka . . . Now you make an alley.
Through the alley, Bobolinka . . . Drop your hands, move up one place and start again.

Kindergarten Reel in Listen to the Mockingbird“The figures are:
*forward and back;
*two hand turn;
*Top couple sashay down the middle, back up the middle, cast off around and down the outside of the set to the bottom;
*all move up one place.
This is a wonderful first-longways-dance-to-instrumental-music dance for young children.  Send me an email – – if you would like me to send you the Kindergarten Reel mp3.  (We used it in the Friday workshop, but not in the Thursday workshop.)

Going to Alberta in Sashay the Donut
A great dance for teaching both the polka step and the ballroom position to children.  We did this in the Thursday but not the Friday workshop.

Heel & Toe Polka in Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD & DVD.
We have adapted this for Kindergarten children:
*Once they all have partners, face partner and take two hands around the circle.
* I throw something (a pen) into the center of the circle and tell them teach the heel & toe figure with the inside foot which is “closest to the pen”
* after the clapping figure, we omit the right elbow turn.
* the first time we do the progression, I have each couple do it one at a time around the circle; I stand right next to them to make sure they do it correctly the first time so that they get the patterning in their bodies.
* the second time we do the progression I announce: “Ladies and gentlement, the Kindergarten class will all now progress ALL AT THE SAME TIME!”

Blaydon Races – in Chimes of Dunkirk” book & CD & DVD.
Adapted for 2nd graders:
* Beginning of the dance as it is in “Chimes”.
* The first time you do the dance, omit the progression; dancers keep the same partner throughout.
* Replace the right hand turn and left hand turn with a two hand turn “for a long time”.
* as in “La Bastringue” above, “open like a book” into the “handy-hand promenade”.

La Bastringue in Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD & DVD.
Adapted for young children – I do this version with 1st and sometimes 2nd graders.
* Do not do it as a mixer; keep the same partner.
* two hand turn with hands held straight across (not crossed hands).
* after the two hand turn, “open like a book” so that dancer’s have just partner’s “handy hand” (traditionally the lady’s left hand in the gent’s right hand) to go into the “handy hand promenade”.

Bye Bye Butterfly inI’m Growing Up
Mary Alice learned this gem from a kindergarten student.

* *

Friday, 9:30 – 10:30 pm

La Bastringue – in Chimes of Dunkirk” book and CD and DVD.
I did this a little different from in our “Chimes” book: I started with Circle Left, Circle Right, and THEN Forward & Back twice. I did it as a non-mixer; we kept the same partners throughout.

Exploding Star – original title “Accretion Reel” by Chris Page.
A1 First time, all wander randomly.
Subsequent times, in your circle of four balance in and all burst out to wander randomly.
A2 Establish eye contact with someone and gypsy them, then swing them with the gender-free muscle-grabbing swing.
B1 Promenade that person randomly around.  At the end of B1 look for another couple to join.
B2 Take hands in a circle of four with that other couple and circle left and right.
Music: Any AABB jig or reel.

Bridge of Athlone – in the Amidons Nashville AOSA handout and in  Listen to the Mockingbird
Music: There is a cut for this on “Listen to the Mockingbird” CD, but we love doing it to “Reel de Rimouski” on our New England Dancing Masters “Any Jig or Reel” CD.  Any AABBCC three-part tune works, or you can use an AABB tune as long as you understand that each dance sequence will go 1.5 times through the tune each time.
Our variations on what’s in the book:
* In A1 and A2, all go forward, and do a clapping “high 10” with partner on the fourth beat, then go back.
* Do a skipping cast off under the arch and back to place.
* When making the arch at the bottom and, later, the tunnel, take hands “down” with partner, then raise them up (so that you have the correct grip for the below figure).
* As soon as the gent, moving down the set, goes under your and your partner’s arch, you lower your held hands and start a two hand turn around and around until it is time to start the first part of the dance again.  The “cascading partner two hand swing”.
Here are some fourth graders whose classroom teacher had taught them the dance.

Larry’s Mixer – in Listen to the Mockingbird book and CD.
Any AABB jig or reel would work, but we love dancing this to “Cheris” from New England Dancing Masters album: Popcorn Behavior/Assembly’s “Other Side of the Tracks
Some teaching points:
* To establish the left hand and right hand neighbors on either side of you partner for the opening allemands, we have dances point their hands at their partner’s belly buttons, then spread the hands just a bit until the left hand is pointing to their left hand neighbor, and the right hand to their right hand neighbor.
* Do this keeping the same partner the first time you do the dance.  After they master that you can add the progression (during promenade gents move up to lady in front of them).
* Use all of the music in each phrase for each figure so that you are always moving.  Time the dosido, allemands and see saw so that you start each figure at the beginning of its corresponding musical phrase.

Circle Waltz Mixer – in New England Dancing Masters Sashay the Donut“.
Music – use “In Continental Mood” from the Sashay the Donut CD.
Peter teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer.
Dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer.

* *

Saturday, 1:00 – 2:15 pm, repeat on Saturday; 3:15 – 4:30

Quartz Mountain Man in the Middle by Peter Amidon and teachers at Oklahoma Quartz Mountain workshop.
Circle mixer
Music: any reel medley – we like “Quebequois Reels” from New England Dancing Masters’ “Sashay the Donut” or “Quebec Reel” from  New England Dancing Masters “Any Jig or Reel“>
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 facing new partner BECAUSE, AT THE SAME TIME
Women stay where they are, also clap on beats 5, 6, 7, jump TO THEIR RIGHT one place on Beat 7.
B1: Long elbow swing with new partner (or dosido into elbow swing or gypsy into elbow swing or regular swing)
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.

 Traffic Jam in Amidons Nashville AOSA handout.
for music you can use “Heel & Toe Polka” cut from New England Dancing Masters’ “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD.
This is a great first or early or anytime dance for older elementary age children.  It is the perfect dance for a smaller space, and a good way to quickly and successfully get older children engaged in dancing and looking forward to more.

Lucky Seven in Amidons Nashville AOSA handout and in New England Dancing Masters Chimes of Dunkirkbook and CD and DVD.
For music we love using “Coming Dawn” from our sons’ album; New England Dancing Masters’ “Other Side of the Tracks“.
The grand right & left exercises:
* All promenade to determine inside/outside gent/lady or moon/star roles.
* All face partner.  Ladies crouch while men weave around circle, starting on the inside.
* Men crouch and assist ladies as they weave around: right hand for outside, left hand assist for inside.
* 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).
* 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.

Grumpy March in Amidons Nashville AOSA handout and in New England Dancing Masters Sashay the Donut“.
Another great dance to successfully engage older children.
* Teaching the chant “Grump, grump, turn, together, right, together, left; grump, grump, grump, turn, together, right, together, left” helps teach the opening figures.
* We drill having the dancers take hands in a circle after the 2nd clapping of A1.
* My variation from what is in the book in the A2 figure is: Take hands in a circle and circle right, walking.  Then drop hands, turn to face in the opposite direction, and all skip clockwise until you see your partner.  KEEP SKIPPING as your partner and you skip eliptically around each other.  While circling partner, take partner’s right wrist in your right hand, then partner’s left wrist in your left hand, and do a skipping swing.

All of our teaching is built on the foundation of giving students a positive dance experience. Elements of this foundation include: facilitating and challenging them into beautiful and satisfying choreography, using music that you love and teaching dances that you enjoy doing and are excited about, you dancing with your students, and using voice amplification that allows you to dance hands free while being able to have students hear you even when you lower your voice, your being fully immersed in joyful dancing.

Choosing Partners – in Amidons Nashville AOSA handout.

Auretti’s Dutch Skipper – English Country Dance from John Playford’s “The English Dancing Master” first published in 1651.
Music – We like using “On the Danforth” either from “Sashay the Donut” CD or “Other Side of the Tracks“.
A1. 1st couple lead down the center, separate and dance around 2s back to place; 2-hand turn.
A2. 2nd lead up the center, separate around 1s, back to place; 2-hand turn.
B1. 1st corners 2-hand turn; 2nd corners 2-hand turn.
B. “Foot it” to partner (set twice); half poussette (progression).
Setting: Facing partner: a little jump onto the right foot, then feet together, Repeat onto left foot.
Half poussette: two hands with partner.  #1 gents start by pushing, #2 gents pulling, trade places with neighbor couple.

Sicilian Vowel Dance – in New England Dancing MastersSashay the Donut“.
Music – you can do this dance to any jig or reel.  We used, and love using, “Golden Keyboard” from New England Dancing Masters’ “Any Jig or Reel“.