Philadelphia AOSA Notes

Philadelphia Area Orff Association (PAOSA)

Peter & Mary Alice lead:

Creating a Dynamic Learning Community with Traditional Dance, Song & Storytelling

Saturday, April 18, 2015 • 9:00 am – 1:30 pm
JW Pepper Building in Exton, PA

We know there were a lot of people who made this possible.  We would like to thank particularly Terry Cocci of Philadelphia AOSA and Denise Collins of J. W. Pepper who did so much to help make this a great day for us. Thanks also to all of the participants; a wonderfully enthusiastic group of dancers and singers!

First some announcements, then the notes:

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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 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 

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

There is a lot of community dancing in the Philadelphia area:

Overview of Philadelphia area community dancing:

Contra dances every Thursday night:

First Friday English Country Dancing in Newtown, PA

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Comment ça va in the handout
In NEDM’s (New England Dancing Masters) “Sashay the Donut
For music we used “Martin O’Connor” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks“.
A great dance for older elementary age children (grades 4-6). It is the same as “La Bastringue” (NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”) with more sophisticated figures in B1.  I had you Clap on the first of each eight beat phrase while calling the dance; the basic rule being that the call should end right before the first beat of the next phrase; in otherwords, the call should end right before it is executed.

My Heart Is Ready
We find this to be a great instant singalong for adults. This is in our “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs” collection.

Sun is in My Heart
A Little Seed
Both of these are in in the handouts, and in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  Both are calming chants that we use as much to center ourselves as the children.

Shut the Gates in the handout.
Mary Alice learned this from Kathy Reid Naiman in a workshop for teachers who work with young children.

Tree Song in the handout
in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley“.  I introduced this with a story about Roger.  I loved Drew’s comment “He’s telling my story”: I got the Roger part of the story from my introduction to “Roger is Dead”.  It is basically the same family: Roger, Mary, their thirteen children, their youngest daughter who then marries and lives with Roger and Mary and has Eliza.  I use this same family for the storytelling introductions to “Chiney Doll” and “When I First Came to This Land”.   You can order the music (unison/piano) for your younger children’s choir from our Amidon Online Choral Sheet Music Download Store.

Starburst in the handout
What a great dance this is; moving seamlessly from no partners to partners to groups of four dancers.  After finishing this dance we have the groups of four join up with another group of four to make squares; the simplest and quickest way we know how to get dancers into a square dance formation.

Simple Square in the handout
in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk“.  Not really such a simple square, but have your students dance “Comment ça va” before teaching them “Simple Square” so they can learn that “Allemande left corner, dosido partner, Allemande left corner” figure in the bigger circle of “Comment ça va”.  Also, before you teach ‘Simple Square” teach the children “Old Bald Eagle” square (in the +Shashay the Donut), the simplest square dance we know.

Sylvie by Huddie Letbetter

Seed in the Ground in the handout
by Connie Kaldor.  In our “Song in My Heart” book & CD.


 I’m Growing Up in the handout.
by Mary Alice Amidon. In both “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD and “Song in My Heart” book & CD.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood in the handout
by Peter Amidon.  In “Song in My Heart” book & CD

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Exclamation Point by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
For music we used “Ballygow / The Bus Stop / MacDonald’s” from the CD “Sometimes When the Moon Is High” by Nightingale: Keith Murphy, Becky Tracy and Jeremiah McLane.  Keith plays on the NEDM CD’s “Other Side of the Tracks” and “Any Jig or Reel”; Becky plays on “Any Jig or Reel”.  You can also order this from iTunes, search for the album title “Sometimes When the Moon Is Hight”.

 Madeline written & illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
For music we used Arabesque No. 1 by Debussy from the CD “Romances for Saxophone” with Branford Marsalis & English Chamber Orchestra.  You can find this on iTunes by searching the album title: “Romances for Saxophone”.

Day Is Done this is in your bibliography.  We simply sang it.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale – written & illustrated by Mo Willems.
for music we used “Cocktail Party 40’s Music” which we found on Youtube:

On the Youtube site was given a place you can purchase the album from iTunes:

Journey – written & illustrated by Aaron Becker
for music we used “What What What” from the album “This is How We Fly”.  You can find this in iTunes by searching for the album title: “This is How We Fly”.  It is a grey cover with blue text.

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Here We Go Riding Our Ponies in the handout
In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.
Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.

The Noble Duke of York in the handout
This is in NEDM’s “Alabama Gal” book/CD/DVD and in “Rise Sally Rise” (formerly “Jump Jim Joe” book & CD.  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.
NOTE: The “Jump Jim Joe” CD has a shorter cut with some fine singing by our son Sam when he was a soprano.  We replaced that on the “Rise Sally Rise” CD with the cut we used in the workshop; it is longer and has more of a “band” feel to it, and works great when doing “The Noble Duke of York” as more of a dance than a singing game with older students.  IF YOU HAVE JUMP JIM JOE AND WOULD LIKE US TO SEND YOU THE NEWER NOBLE DUKE OF YORK MP3 SEND US AN EMAIL AND WE WILL EMAIL YOU THE MP3.

 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.

Durham Reel in the handout
The dance is in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk“, but the music we used: “Slow G”, (played again by Popcorn Behavior AKA Assembly, our sons’ band from the “Other Side of the Tracks” CD) is on the NEDM “Sashay the Donut” CD.

 Larry’s Mixer in the handout
In NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird“. For music we used “Cheris” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks“.  This is a great dance for a class of upper elementary students with some dance experience.  Have them do the dance keeping the same partners for a week or so before you introduce doing it as a mixer.


Inchworm as sung by Danny Kaye in the movie “Hans Christian Anderson”.  Here is my Youtube source for the music:
I have done this in performance with 2nd graders singing the “Two and two are four…” children’s choir part of the song while I sang the Danny Kaye part.

Peddler’s Dream
This is my version of a folktale that has many versions.  Here are a few more:

 Acting Out a Folktale
See the notes in your handout on Telling Stories to Children & Acting Out Folktales with Children.  We had three different volunteers suggest ways that the angel might move and combined them all for some extraordinarily beautiful angel choreography.

Creating an Original Dance
I did an abbreviated version of this today, but here are more in-depth notes on creating an original dance with children:

 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.
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 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.
We did not have time to create a title for this dance with the group, so I will use the power vested in me to declare the name:

Grand Right and WHAT? an original dance created by participants in the Amidons April 2015 Philadelphia AOSA workshop.
a circle mixer.
For music use any AABB jig or reel medley.
A1: Ptnr Clap right, Clap left (4)
Right elbow turn partner (4)
Corner Clap left, Clap right (4)
Corner elbow turn (4)
A2 and B1: Grand right & Left, three changes, starting with Right
With fourth person allemande left.
Grand right and left back in the opposite direction three changes starting with Right.
With fourth person promenade.
B2: All promenade into center,
Drop hands, take hand in circle as backing out to place. (8)
Forward and back again. (8)

 Circle Waltz Mixer in your handout
In NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” book & CD.
What a wonderful dance; we do this right down to 2nd grade.  For 2nd graders we sometimes replace the two hand turn, which can be disorienting, with a slooooowwww bow to partner before “Opening like a book”, taking hands in the circle, and waiting for the beginning of the next time through the tune.
Here are Youtubes of me teaching and dancing the “Circle Waltz Mixer” with children:

And here is the SAB song in your handout we did not get to:

How Could Anyone   by Libby Roderick

Keep on singing and dancing, and tell your students stories!


Peter and Mary Alice Amidon