Children need to be able to discern the changes in the music from A1 to A2 to B1, to B2 in order to do this dance successfully.
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.
Form the Corn in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
Great singing game for: while waiting in line, taking a standing-up-break from a writing activity, for an all school assembly.
Here We Go 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.
Come Along Everybody in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We know music teachers who start their music classes with this singing game as the children enter the music classroom.
Old Brass Wagon in NEDM’s Down in the Valley book & CD
Do this as an a cappella singing game, children making up some of the movements. With the music from the CD it can also be young children’s first experience of a partner dance with instrumental music. I say “Just do what Mary Alice says.”
Lucky Seven In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD
We did this to “The Coming Dawn” in NEDM’s Other Side of the Tracks. 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, I will only take a hand when I say a number, I will only say a number when I take a hand”. 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.
Bridge of Athlone In NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird.
You can do this from “Blarney Pilgrim” on the “Listen to the Mockingbird” CD. I used, and love using “Reel de Rimouski” from NEDM’s Any Jig or Reel. If you have sets of, say, 7 – 9 couples (and more space than we had) and encourage the children to skip through the cast off under the arches, the dance works very well with the three parts (AABBCC) of “Reel de Rimouski”. We added the “cascading two-hand swing”: every couple successively go into a wave of two-hand-swings as the active couple moves from the top to the bottom of the dance (the gent going through the tunnel) at the end of the sequence.
I’m Growing Up – in Song in My Heart book & CD
The stages of life. Children love singing this; parents are often moved by the song.
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.
Martin Luther King – in Song in My Heart book & CD
Wonderful for an all-school sing.
Vote For Me – in Song in My Heart book & CD
Children say to their parents: “Vote for me because I am too young to vote.”
Brotherhood & Sisterhood – in Song in My Heart book & CD
Commissioned by the Lititz PA Elementary School to celebrate their “Celebrate the Differences” Day.
I Live in Music – Try this with different kinds of music.
Owl Moon – Here are two Youtube clips I found
Bruce O’Brien’s Owl Moon song
Jane Yolen reading Owl Moon
Twenty Four Robbers – Mary Alice does this as a participatory chant with children.
Marian Anderson – Mary Alice set the poem of this book to music:
Mary Alice’s setting available in Online Choral Store
Day Is Done – just sing the song in the book
We All Went on Safari – Mary Alice uses percussion and echo sings the numbers.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Here are the three cuts of music I found to go with Sendak’s brilliant classic “Where the Wild Things Are” which I purchased from iTunes, all from Stravinsky’s “Petrouchka”:
Death of Petrushka
Dance of the Coachmen and Grooms (stop at 1′ 16″ – see below)
Waltz: The Ballerina and the Moor
Here is how you have iTunes play a piece of music from a selected starting and end point:
* select the song in your iTunes library (or playlist)
* from the menu item “Edit” select “Song Info
* at the top of the resulting dialogue box are a row of tabs; select “Options”
* write in the “Start” and/or “Stop” times you prefer. Make sure you select the boxes to the left of the start and stop time
Sasha in Sashay the Donut book & CD
We did not get to this, but try it; it is a terrific dance for all ages and for an evening community dance.
Haste to the Wedding In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD (& DVD)
We did not get to this; but this is the dance I mentioned you should do with your students before you teach them Nancy & Arthur.
Grumpy March – in Sashay the Donut book & CD
If you haven’t done it already, we recommend a collaboration with the physed teacher. You can dance in the gym with double classes, and some physed teachers feel insecure about teaching dance and would be grateful to have you help them with this. The “Grumpy March” is a dance physed teachers love because it is so aerobic.
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 – in Sashay the Donut book & CD
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).
Circle Waltz Mixer – in Sashay the Donut book & CD (&
In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection Music: “In Continental” waltz from Sashay the Donut CD or any waltz, played ABAB (not AABB).
Formation: circle of partners
A (48) Take hands around circle and step in and out. (6) Gents roll lady on left from left to right*. (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6) Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right. (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6) Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right. (6)
Take hands in circle again and step in and out. (6) Gents roll new left hand lady from left to right, but this time the gent turns right (facing CCW) taking both hands with this lady. (6)
B (48) With this new partner step in towards the center, swinging arms in, and then step out, swinging arms out. (6)
Step in swinging arms in, let go of partner’s hands and each of you turn single (gent turning CCW and lady turning CW). (6)
Take hands with partner again and reverse: Step out, swinging arms out and in swinging arms in. (6)
Step out swinging arms out, let go of partner’s hands and each of you turn single (gent turning CW and lady CCW). (6)
Two hand turn; end on original sides, and take hands in big circle to start the whole sequence over again. (24)
NOTE: To do this with, say, 2nd graders, you can replace the finale two hand turn with a loooooong bow, then all take hands in a circle to do the next sequence of the dance.
Now It’s Time to Go – in Amidons’ Song in My Heart book & CD
Here is a recording, made in 1987, of our son Sam, then six, singing this with us in the studio.
Picture Books II – See the bibliography
I Miss You Every Day
When I Grow Up I Want to Be Me
In The Fiddle There Is a Song
Here is an outline of my version of the Peddler’s Dream. There a many versions of this stories in many cultures.
Acting Out Peddler’s Dream
See the section in the handout on acting out stories.
Tuesday – my version of Durham Reel which is in Chimes of Dunkirk. Both of these dances work great with “Slow G” on our Sashay the Donut CD.
Arthur & Nancy – by Peter Amidon
Named after our elder son, Sam’s two children. Before you teach this make sure your students have done “Haste to the Wedding” (in Chimes of Dunkirk ). If you cannot download the mp3 or pdf from below and you would like them, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send the mp3 and pdf as an attachment.
pdf of Arthur & Nancy music
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, 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. You might have them raise hands with suggestions to help keep a bit of order and fairness. 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 discussing 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. 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.
Double Weave an original circle mixer by you!
I forgot to facilitate with you giving your great original dance a name (see above) so I just made one up. Here is your great dance:
FORMATION: Circle Mixer
MUSIC: Any jig or reel
A1: Take hands in a circle and go forward and back (end up facing partner) (8)
Grand right and left four changes (8)
A2: Continue grand right and left two changes (4)
With 3rd person (7th person total in the grand right & left) allemand right. (8)
Facing this same person, who is now your new partner, set to right and left (like in “Sellinger’s Round”) (4)
B1: Two hand turn this new partner (8)
Dosido the same partner (8)
B2: Weave six changes, take hands in circle and prepare to go forward & back. (8)
Note: It Ocurred to me, thinking about this dance later, that it might be helpful and wonderful for the ladies (the right hand partner), after the sixth change in the B2 weaving, turn single over the left shoulder as a good way to gracefully get into position for the opening forward and back.
Here is Brad Foster teaching this dance, from John Playford’s 1661 “The English Dancing Masters”. They do a different kind of siding than I taught. Here is the version of siding that I taught.
Now It’s Time to Go This time it really is.
Here is the written music
& Here is a studio recording of our son Sam (then 6) singing it with us in 1990.
You are a marvelous group of music teachers; lucky, your students. Keep singing, dancing & telling stories!
Peter (and Mary Alice)