Rochester AOSA notes

Greater Rochester Chapter of AOSA
Amidons Workshop – Creating a Dynamic Learning Community with Traditional Song, Dance & Stortelling
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Crane Elementary School, 85 Shell Edge Dr., Rochester NY

Thanks to the many people who made this possible; particular thanks to Emily Phillips who was our contact for planning the day, and to Lisa Schwartz, music teacher at Crane Elementary, who, with her Aunt Sheila (not only Lisa’s aunt but also her immediate predecessor as the music teacher at Crane Elementary, Wow!) help pull us out of a sound system nightmare (that was probably caused by our equipment, but we’ll never really know).  Also thanks to the Rochester AOSA Treasurer Erin Sabourin (another family connection; Erin is the daughter of our friend Diane Sabourin who was a longtime music teacher in Peru, NY and one of the organizers of the 2008 National AOSA National Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina), and to Charles and to everyone else who made our visit possible.

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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 wives:

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 the touring percussionist for The Devil Makes Three

and Stefan is a wonderful singer (the tall bass)

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 on the occasion of our 40th wedding anniversary last summer.

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Your homework is to GO DANCING.  Here is a website about where the contra dances and English country dances are in Rochester.

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Accretian Reel 
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.

Grand March Chorus – A slightly different version of this is in NEDM’s (New England Dancing Masters) “Sashay the Donut”. Teaching tip: start by having everyone promenade and determine who is the inside and outside (left and right, gent and lady, peanut butter and jelly) partner.  The defining figure is: Allemand right partner, Allemande left neighbor, Dosido partner, Seesaw (left shoulder dosido) neighbor, into a partner promenade.  To teach the “Dosido partner”, since it is the same path as a partner allemande right, I first teach this by saying “Partner allemande right NO!” which simply means you do not use your hand but walk around partner as if you were doing and allemande right.  Same thing with “Seesaw (left should dosido) Neighbor.

My Heart Is Ready by Cindy Kallet, arr. P. & M.A. Amidon
Available in the Amidons Online Choral Store
and on their Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs book & companion CD.

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. 

My Poor Hand is Shaking – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.

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.

Here We Go Riding Our Ponies – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.

Come Along Everybody – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.

Kindergarten Reel in NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird
A great first partner-longways-dance-to-instrumental music for young children.  Here is the mp3 for the music to Kindergarten ReelIf you cannot download it from that link, send me an email <> and I will email you the mp3.  Of course you can play the music on anything; piano, French horn, recorder.  After doing this dance a few times you can put on any jig or reel and have them dance the Virginia Reel: really the same dance but start with: Forward and Back, right hand turn, two hand turn, dosido.

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.

Now It’s Time to Go  by Peter Amidon, in our Song in My Heart book & CD.
We know some teachers who always sing this with their students at the end of a class or the end of the day.

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.

Silver Rain – available in the Amidons Online Choral Store
and on their Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir book & companion CD.

As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse – by Billy Collins
Billy Collins’ poems are typically poignant, funny and accessible.  He is a past Poet Laureate of the United States, and was a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion”. Here’s the poem.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Mary Alice used “Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did)” from St. Germaine’s “Boulevard” album, which you can purchase on iTunes.

Owl Moon in the bibliography
The Bruce O’Brien song we sang and the motions we used are in NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.

Time for Bed in the bibliography
Here’s the tune
Mary Alice made up for the Mem Fox poetry.

Madeline in the bibliography
My mother gave me this book when I was in fourth grade after I’d been rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy which has given this wonderful picture book even more depth of meaning for me.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Last Friday was the second time Mary Alice and I rushed to a Rochester Barnes and Noble for some emergency shopping when we realized we’d forgotten to bring our picture books, and, again, we made some wonderful discoveries.  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 times.

Sellinger’s Round
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.

Nancy & Arthur
Here is the music
, composed by Keith Murphy, and played by Becky Tracy, fiddle, and Keith Murphy, piano. If you cannot download it from that link, send me an email <> and I will email you the mp3.  Unlike most traditional American social dances which can be done to any jig or reel, Historic English County Dances each have a specific tune.  Here are demonstrations of two of the figures:
* two hand turn
   * poussette (Note: In “Nancy & Arthur” you do only half a poussette, trading places with your neighbor.)
To prepare for “Nancy and Arthur” first teach your students “Haste to the Wedding” (from “Chimes of Dunkirk”) and “Sellinger’s Round”. Then the only really new figure you’ll be teaching in “Nancy & Arthur” will be the half poussette.

Galopede – in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk
We always do this to the specific tune ‘Galopede’ which is on the Chimes of Dunkirk companion CD. We often end a community dance with this dance. The 2nd version of ‘Galopede’ on the 2010 revision of the ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’ CD has an extra C music at the end for the ‘eggbeater’ figure where, after the top couple sashays to the bottom the last time through the dance, each successive couple sashays down the middle, while the outside couples continue moving up towards the top of the set.  Sometimes we practice this final figure ahead of time, sometimes we don’t.


What’s In a Song by Lucy Picco Simpson
Lucy Simpson has been a big influence on our singing since we first sang gospel songs with her at Pinewoods Folk Music Week in 1976. Here she is singing “Time Has Made a Change“.  She collected old hymnals, gleaned gems from them that had slipped out of use, and put them back into circulation; most famously,”Angels Hovering Round“. “What’s in a Song” is the only song we know that Lucy wrote. I transcribed the arrangement in your handout it from this performance of Mary Alice and me singing it with Emily Miller and Jesse Milnes.

Peddler’s Dream traditional folktale
There are many versions of this folktale. Here is an outline of my version of the story. We acted out a couple of scenes afterwards, and had the angels do an “angels flying in” workshop.

Original Dance

CREATING AN ORIGINAL DANCE WITH YOUR STUDENTS 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.
I did not get to facilitating making up the name of the dance you created in the workshop, so let’s call it the “Rochester Grand Right & Shimmy”.  Here is your wonderful dance:

Rochester Grand Right & Shimmy by participants in the Amidons’ Sept. 22, 2018 Rochester AOSA workshop
Formation: Circle mixer
Music: Any jig or reel
A1: Allemand right partner, Allemand left partner
A2: Forward and back twice
B1: Facing forward, Stamp, stamp, shimmy, facing neighbor, Stamp Stamp clap clap (two hands w Neighbor)
Facing forward, Stamp, stamp, shimmy, facing partner, Stamp Stamp clap clap (two hands w Partner)
B2: Grand right and left three changes (partner is #1). Promenade the fourth person.

Larry’s Mixer in NEDM’s Sashay the Donut book/CD
We used “Cheris” from NEDM’s Other Side of the Tracks for this. This is a wonderful dance for upper elementary students. Teach it not as a mixer for the first week or two (as we did the first few times through in the workshop).

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.

Now It’s Time to Go Here is our elder son Sam singing this with us thirty-one years ago when he was six.

We had such a wonderful time with all of you, thank you! Keep on singing & dancing and telling stories.


Peter (and Mary Alice)