Pinellas County Florida Workshop Notes

Pinellas County Summer Elementary Music Institute 2018
            Peter & Mary Alice lead
Creating a Dynamic Learning Community with Traditional Dance, Song & Storytelling
Tuesday, July 24, 2018 • 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Pinellas Park High School, 6305 118th Ave N, Largo, FL 33773
Thanks to the many people who made this possible, and big thanks to David Tagliarini whose thoughtful and thorough shepherding us through the months of preparation and the day itself made the trip and the workshop a delight for us.

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The next section is a little about Mary Alice and me and our family.  That is followed by our  post-workshop notes.

MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:

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

Zara singing with the By the People Choir.

Stefan is currently touring with The Devil Makes Three

Sam with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Sam fiddling

Sam’s wife Beth Orton singing Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”

Here is an Ode to Mary Alice I made for her last Monday on the occasion of our 40th wedding anniversary:

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Your homework is to GO DANCING.  Here are some websites with information on dancing in greater St. Petersburg/Tampa:

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Blaydon Races in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD.
We used ‘Blaydon Races’ 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.

Sun  Is In My Heart in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We find this to be comforting for both us and for the children.

Little Seed – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.
We love “the little wait…” in this fingerplay/song. 

Tree Song – in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection
Lorraine Hammond, who composed this wonderful singing game, is a songwriter and musician, and the best known  Appalachian dulcimer player in the country.  She is in the  greater Boston area.  The piano arrangement on the CD is Peter’s.  We find this to be a calming, centering dance,  both for the children and for ourselves.  I introduced it with a story about Roger moving to Vermont in the 18th century, creating a farm, raising a family, and planting an apple orchard.

Sleeping Bunnies  in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
Young children love this singing game and will ask to do it over and over, partly because they love falling on the floor and getting up again.  Hunt the Cows, the singing game by Jean Ritchie in our Down in the Valley collection, also has children getting down and up from the floor.

Riding Our Ponies  in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
Children practice handshakes and eye contact in this instantly engaging singing game.

Highland Gates in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection
This is a great dance for opening a community dance. Folks can join in the dancing as they straggle in.

Kindergarten Reel in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
A great first partner-longways-dance-to-instrumental music for young children.  Send me an email and I will email you the mp3 for the music to Kindergarten Reel.  Of course you can play the music on anything; piano, French horn, recorder.

Old Brass Wagon 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.

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 and take” 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.”; many 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 NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD
This simple circle/partner dance can be easily adapted for younger children.  Have them circle left hold hands straight across, then “open like a book” into a promenade holding “handy hands” (gent’s right and lady’s left).


      From the Seed in the Ground
 by Connie Kaldor
This is a great song for all ages sung, as written, unison with guitar or piano.  If you want to do it with your children’s choir you might consider my piano SSAA arrangement which, of course, can be done simply as a unison/piano arrangement.

Humpty Dump traditional camp song
This is a great way to teach nursery rhymes to upper elementary children. We have the children recite the full nursery rhyme before sticking it into the song.

I’m Growing Up by Mary Alice Amidon
The stages of life. Children love singing this; parents are often moved by the song.

      Brotherhood & Sisterhood
 in Amidons Song in My Heart book & companion CD.
A song about celebrating our differences, and suggestions about what to do when you see bullying.

See your bibliography for details. Try your own favorite picture books with your own favorite music.

I Live in Music
    In the Fiddle Is a Song
    I Miss You Every Day
    Marion Anderson

Your time is always well used if you tell a story (personal story or folktale or other) to your students; if you are not telling them stories it is likely nobody is.

Eensy Weensy Spider
I demonstrated a way I tell this to young children miming the spider, the water spout, the rain clouds and the sun.

Faerie’s Gift folktale from Ireland, original music by Mary Alice Amidon
Here is a transcription of Mary Alice’s telling of this story, including her songs.

Lucky Seven In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection
We used ‘The 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 marshmellow/chocolate 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. Level three: At end of grand right and left allemande right the 7th person about 1 1/4 into a promenade.

Kings and Queens 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).

* SONGS FOR CHILDRENS CHOIRS (of course these may also be good for the music classroom)

Vote for Me by Faya Rose Touré (AKA Rose Sanders) –  in Amidons Song in My Heart book & companion CD.
What could be a more important lesson than this?

From the Seed in the Ground by Connie Caldor –  in Amidons Song in My Heart book & companion CD.
Downloadable piano/SSAA version is in our Amidon Choral Store.

Turn Around by Malvina Reynolds & others.
Downloadable piano/unison arrangement is in our Amidon Choral Store.
This is a wonderful and moving song to have children perform for parents.  I like starting with a solo voice.  You can also sing this to a simple guitar accompaniment.

Give Me Birds at the Dawning by Betsy Binstock
I found (but cannot find again, sorry) a lovely performance of this by an elementary school children’s chorus.

Accretian Reel
This works best with older elementary students; they each need to be able to change from figure to figure on their own as the music goes from A1 to A2 to B1 to B2.  It can be a great scatter mixer for a community dance since it starts and ends with no partners.

Old Bald Eagle Square In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection
A great first square dance for, say, 2nd graders (who have already had some dance experience) and up.

Alabama Gal In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection
Teach this as an a cappella singing game before trying with the CD which, as you found out,  goes pretty fast.  Here is a quick way to teach the cast-off-under-the-arch figure:
* In a demonstration longway set have top and bottom couples remain where they are and the other dancers move out of the way.  The Top gent, by himself, casts alone to the left, skipping down and back up through the arch.  Then the Top lady, alone, does the same thing, casting to the right.  Then they both cast at the same time, taking one hand with partner before going under the arch and back to place.  Then have the other dances come back into place, and simply have all of the dancers follow the Top gent and the Top lady, single file in a cast, skipping down, and taking partner’s hand before going under the arch and back to place.
* When the top couple sashays down and back, have the dancers follow the phrasing of the music, not necessarily stopping at the bottom of the set, but sashaying down right past the bottom of the set until the music tells them to sashay back up to the top.
* SKIPPING! Demonstrate skipping.  Have different students demonstrate skipping, while the other students say what they like about their colleagues’ skipping.  Look for relaxed skipping, hands swinging by sides, skipping to the beat.
* Encourage students to, as a group, time the skipping cast off figure so that it ends just as the phrase ends.

Folktale: Peddler’s Dream traditional folktale
Here is an outline of Peter’s version of the story.  We acted out a couple of scenes afterwards, and had the angels do an “angels flying in” workshop.

* Choral Songs For Us

All Night & All Day traditional, arranged by Ysaye Barnwell
Here it is 

      sung by Ysaye Barnwell sung by Ysaye Barnwell
; first the melody, then she overdubs all four parts.  We use this in our hospice singing with Hallowell.

And When I Rise 1st verse by Wendell Berry.  Authors of music & other verses unknown.
Here is the Youtube that inspired this arrangement. Here is our little Guilford Community Church Choir singing my arrangement.

Grumpy March by Peter Amidon. In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection
Another dances that physed teachers love because it is so aerobic.

Sicilian Vowel Dance  In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection
We used ‘Cheris’ from NEDM’s ‘Other Side of the Tracks’ 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 In NEDM’s  Sashay the Donut collection.
Teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer
Dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer
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.

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Once again, thanks to David and everyone who helped make this a terrific visit for us.

Keep on singing, dancing & telling stories!


Peter (and Mary Alice)