Vermont Music Educators Killington 2013


for Peter & Mary Alice Amidon’s two workshops at the

2013 VMEA Conference

Monday, October, 14, 2013 • Killington, Vermont


Singing Games & Songs for Young Children


Teaching Dance to Older Elementary Children

THANK YOU: To Connie Wilcox who did a great job arranging our visit and taking care of our needs; to everyone else who worked to make the conference possible, and to all of you for your enthusiastic participation in the workshops.  Mary Alice and I had a wonderful time.


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:

   *            *            *


Coming soon (in a few weeks):

Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir


Twenty-five Anthems for Small Church & Community Choirs


    *            *            *

MEET OUR BOYS & their ladies:


Stefan (with the family last New Year’s Eve)

Stefan’s girlfriend Zara Bode (red haired lead singer – Stefan on percussion and bass vocals)


Sam’s wife Beth Orton

*            *            *


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


*            *            *


Workshop notes (scroll down to get to notes on the “Teaching Dance to Older Elementary Children” notes.)


11:30- 12:30 • Singing Games & Songs for Young Children

The Sun is In My Heart p. 7 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD. We find this to be calming and comforting both for us and the children.


A Little Seed p. 2 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.

Form the Corn p. 7 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  You can do this engaging singing game anytime, anywhere.

Highland Gates p. 6 in handout.

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.

Old Brass Wagon p. 6 in handout.

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.


Bobolinka p. 2 in handout.

in NEDM’s ‘Jump Jim Joe’. A great singing game for introducing elements of longways set dancing to children.  I can be followed by ‘Kindergarten Reel’ (in ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’) and a simple version of ‘Virginia Reel’ (in ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’.

Kindergarten Reel not in handout.

in NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird (book/CD).  I did not do this in our short hour of dancing, but I talked about it so much that I had to include it in the notes.

Now It’s Time to Go p. 7 in handout.

in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection I introduced this with a story that I made up.  Elements of the story came from this singing game, the singing game ‘Roger is Dead’ (NEDM’s Down in the Valley) and the traditional song ‘Chiney Doll’ (on our  ‘Song in My Heart’ CD & companion book). Lorraine Hammond, who composed this wonderful singing game, is a songwriter and musician, and one of the best known  Appalachian dulcimer players in the country.  She is in the  greater Boston area.  The piano arrangement on the CD is Peter’s and is available as a children’s choir piece for young singers.  We find this to be a calming, centering  dance, both for the children and for ourselves.

I’m Growing Up p. 5 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  We do this with children standing scattered across the floor doing simple motions and movements to the song, which you can see on the “I’m Growing Up” DVD.

Here We Go Riding p. 4 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  We love how this engaging singing game teaches children about greeting each other with eye contact and shaking hands.

Sleeping Bunnies not in handout

 In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.


Bye Bye Butterfly p. 3 in handout.

In NEDM’s “I’m Growing Up” book/CD/DVD.  You can see movements for this on the DVD.


     *            *            *


2:00 – 3:00 • Teaching Dance to Older Elementary Children


Blaydon Races p. 2 in handout

in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection Mary Alice played for this, but we like using‘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.


Going to Alberta Not in the handout.

In NEDM’s Sashay the Donut collection This is a GREAT way to teach the ballroom position (used for the waltz, the polka, and for a contra dance swing) at the same time as a simple polka step.  We have found this to be a great dance for little kids, big kids mixed ages, community dance, in short, for anyone.  You can do it as an a cappella singing game, or accompany it with piano, guitar, accordion, or Orff instruments, or do it to the music of the Sashay the Donut CD.

Larry’s Mixer p. 1 in handout

In NEDM’s “Listen to the Mockingbird”. We used the cut “Cheris” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks” CD, which is the band “Assembly”, a quartet that includes  our two sons Sam (fiddle) and Stefan (percussion). Also try doing this to “The Coming Dawn” from the same CD, or try “Golden Keyboard” from NEDM’s “Any Jig or Reel” CD.  All of these are flowing music, and I find that this dance can have a sublime “Historic English County Dance” feel (think Jane Austen) when done to those cuts of elegant 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.   Then I have a volunteer Queen ask a King, and when they are finished I have a  volunteer King ask a Queen, and they get in place in the line beside the first King & Queen. Then all ask.  This can be wonderful, and the  children who succeed in doing this can be quite proud of themselves.

Bridge of Athlone p. 2 in handout

In NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird collection This requires a 3-part tune.  ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’ has a three part jig: ‘Blarney Pilgrim’ that works great for this dance.  We really like dancing it to the three-part  ‘Reel de Rimouski’ on NEDM’s ‘Any Jig or Reel’ CD, which is what we did in Killington.  We find this to be an engaging dance for 3rd – 6th and great for  a community dance.


Circle Waltz Mixer p. 1 in handout.

In NEDM’s  ‘Sashay the Donut’ collection. 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.

Happy dancing!


Peter (and Mary Alice) Amidon