Queens Education Through Music Workshop



Education Through Music Workshop
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon lead
Creating a Dynamic Learning Community with Traditional Dance, Song & Storytelling
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 • 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
PS 343 Q Sunnyside Queens, Children’s Lab School 45-46 Forty second street, Sunnyside, NY 11104

Many thanks to Pete Pauliks for all his work in setting this up, to all the other folks who did such a great job helping us load in and out, transforming the cafeteria into a perfect little workshop space, and to a most extraordinarily enthusiastic and dynamic group of music teachers.

First some announcements, then the notes:

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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 Long Island/New York City area:

Long Island contra dancing:

New York City contra dancing:http://cdny.org/page/what-is-contra?gclid=CjwKEAjw9uypBRD5pMDYtsKxvXcSJACcb9AYvH0HW8Xx6Ehke-bRBvj47LoNtm7fp2dnAsYQLgRNgRoCNKnw_wcB

New York City English County Dancing http://cdny.org/page/english-calendar

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Blaydon Races  in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk” collection.
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
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 – Mary Alice learned this from Kathy Reid Naiman in a workshop for teachers who work with young children.

Ten Little Fingers – in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.
I enjoy doing this simple finger play with drama.

Tree Song – in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley”.  I introduced this with a story about Roger.  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.

Form the Corn – In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. A great no-formation dance for any age, any situation.

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.

Sally Go Round the Sunshine – Both this, and its English cousin “Sally Go Round the Sun” are in NEDM’s Rise Sally Risecollection. We like using this singing game with all ages:  especially 2nd grade and up (right through middle school/high school/adults) to teach the  relaxed, rhythmic style of walking characteristic of contra dancing and of nearly all the  Anglo and African/American dances we teach. We teach the song quickly by rote, and then keep singing the song over and over again as the students first walk in place in time to the song, then do the dance, and then maybe  add a forward and back into the figures.

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 I teach it I walk through the figures first, and then say “Now just do whatever Mary Alice says,” and put on the CD.

Kindergarten Reel – In NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird collection but just in the book, not on the CD.  You can lead this with whatever instrument you play: piano, French horn, recorder, electric guitar, whatever!  We do have an mp3 of recorded music for this.  It is not on any of our CDs.  Send me an email <amidonpeter@gmail.com> and I would be happy to send you the mp3 of the music to this dance.

Fox – This is on Mary Alice’s and my book and companion CD “Song in My Heart“. I introduced this with a story.

From the Seed in the Ground – by Connie Kaldor.  Children inhale this song! In our “Song in My Heart” book & CD.  I did an

      SSAA/piano arrangement
, available in the our “Online Choral Store“.

PICTURE BOOKS I These are all listed the Picture Books bibliography in your handout:
I Live in Music to Brubeck’s “Take Five”
In the Fiddle is a Song
to Natalie Haas “Dry & Dusty”
We All Went On Safari – a Tanzanian counting chant.
Madeline to Debussy’s “Arabesque #1 as performed by Brad Marsalis & the English Chamber Orchestra
we sang this.

Chiney Doll – in our “Song in My Heart” book & CD.  I introduced this with a story about Eliza and the peddler.  Then we played our son Sam, at age two, telling the intructory story and then singing the song.


Come Along Everybody – in NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. We use this often to start a class.

Down Down Baby – in NEDM’s “Down in the Valley ” collection.  This comes from the playground; we like to try to get it back out on the playground.

Lucky Seven – NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk”. In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection We used ‘Coming Dawn’ from NEDM’s  Other Side of the TracksCD. 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…’ 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.

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.

Kings & 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).


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

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

Vote for Me – In “Song in My Heart” book & CD. I taught an “electric air bass” ostinato some of the children can sing during the verse.

Martin Luther King – In “Song in My Heart” book & CD.

Faerie’s Gift – Traditional Irish folktale.  Here is a transcription of Mary Alice’s telling of the story, including the songs she made up to go with it.

I’m Growing Up Dance Mary Alice made this up as a standing-up dance to go along with her song.  Make up your own version with your students.

Traffic Jam – This is a terrific dance to do with any group, say, 3rd grade and up.  We particularly like it for older children who are self conscious about dancing.

Alabama Gal – In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection.  We used the Alabama Gal cut from the Chimes of Dunkirk CD. Teach this as an a cappella singing game before trying with the CD which, as you found out,  goes pretty fast.  A simple and efficient way to teach cast off under the arches is: 1) Have the top couple and bottom couple remain where they are in the set and all the other couples move out of the set to watch.  Bottom couple make a two hand arch (“take hands down, lift them up”) and first the gent cast and skip down around through the arch back to the top, then the lady do the same thing, then both gent and lady at the same time cast around down, taking one hand with partner before going through the arch, and back to the top.  Then have all the dancers come back to place and follow the top couple around (still with the bottom couple making the two hand arch.  THEN you can have the bottom couple follow the others around in the cast off and have the top couple make the arch when they reach the bottom.

Dance 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 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 – in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection; not in the handout:
Formation: Circle of partners
Music: “La Bastringue” from “Chimes of Dunkirk” CD or any reel (especially French Canadian reels).
A1: Forward and back (8)
Forward and back (8)
A2: Circle left (8)
Circle right (8)
B1: Dosido partner (8)
Two hand turn partner (8)
B2: Promenade partner (16)

Picture Books II – These are all listed the Picture Books bibliography in your handout:
Keep on Singing – The Marion Anderson book with Mary Alice’s made up melody.
Day is Done – by Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul & Mary)
What a Wonderful World
Exclamation Point
Over the Rainbow (with Judy Collins singing)
First Strawberries (with Carlos Nakai playing flute)


Accretion Reel (variation of dance by Chris Page) Scatter mixer.
This is not in your notes.  I called it the “Starburst”, but the actual title is the less memorable “Accretion Reel”.
A1 Balance forward (“Hello”), and all balance back (“Goodbye”) as you turn away and start walking alone randomly around the room (“individual scatter promenade”).
A2 Catch someone’s eyes and gypsy, then right elbow swing this same person.
B1 Scatter promenade as couples
B2 Find another couple and circle left and right.
Note: First time through the dance, just start with the scatter promenade.

Solomon Levi –  in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection.  This is a great square dance for beginning dancers. Our favorite first square dance for children is “Old Bald Eagle Square” which is in your notes and also in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut” collection.

Nyangara – traditional folktale from Zimbabwe
I have transcribed my version of the story and have included the original songs that go with the story.

Act Out a Folktale – 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 Chief described exactly how he felt bad.” 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.

How Could Anyone – You sounded so beautiful singing this SAB arrangement.  This can also be a wonderful children’s song with them singing just the melody (which is in the alto in the arrangement).  This and other Amidon choral arrangements are available in our Amidon Online Choral Store, and in our two collections of Amidon choral arrangements: “Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir” and “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs“.

Seed in Ground dance – This is sort of a “Flash Mob” I made up for elementary school children.  Try doing it with your whole school at once (once they all know the song).  Here I am leading a somewhat rough version of the dance with some music teacher colleagues at a Pourparler Conference (annual national conference on teaching folkdance to children)

Circle Waltz Mixer – in NEDM’s “Sashay the Donut“. For music we used “In Continental” from the “Sashay the Donut” 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:

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Mary Alice and I had SUCH a wonderful time dancing and singing and storytelling with you.  You are a most remarkable and enthusiastic group of music teachers.  Keep on singing, dancing, storytelling and smiling.  Your students are lucky to have you!


Peter (and Mary Alice)www.amidonmusic.com