Thoughts on a conference: KMEA

Hi everyone! This is Lindsay from Lindsay's Kodaly-inspired classroom. This past Thursday through Saturday was our state music conference, KMEA, in Kansas. This time is always such a nice time to get pumped up again, rejuvenate, and get some fresh ideas for teaching.

Below are some of the great ideas I collected from the conference plus a few great finds at some of the booths. You can check out my blog, Pursuit of Joyfulness for even more thoughts on the conference (coming soon).

The presenter I was most looking forward to seeing was Andrew Ellingsen. He presented in Wichita last May and if you haven't seen him yet, you need to!

He presented two sessions, one on sequencing movement and another on play. Two things I hold so near and dear to my teaching.

Before I started teaching at my current school, I had never done much in the way of folk dancing with my kids and it was not something I had been exposed to prior to that, but they had a tradition of having a square dance night the week of Kansas Day at my school and I was in charge of teaching each grade level a dance to perform on the stage in front of parents. It is a huge fundraiser for our school and coincides with a book fair on the same night!

When I found out I was going to be in charge of this, I called upon a good friend, Hannah Northerns, who is currently our KMEK president. She came out to my school and presented a folk dance to each grade level. I video taped her so that I could remember all the steps and the sequence she used for teaching each dance. Each summer during our Kodaly training at Wichita State University there has been a special topics on folk dancing and I have been able to expand my knowledge on dancing, teaching, and repertoire.

When Andrew presented he laid out for us a sequence for teaching movement in circle dances and explained that in the same way that we prepare, present and practice rhythmic and melodic concepts, that movement should have a sequence too.

He suggested the following circle dance sequence:
1. Chasing circle games "duck duck goose" style
2. Follow a leader around
3. Circle left/right without holding hands
4. Circle left/right while holding hands
5. Circle one direction only, add in/out
6. Circle left/right going forward and back
7. Trade places with a partner
8. Changing Partners Around the Circle
9. Changing partners with other dance patterns between
10. Changing partners with more complicated dance patterns
11. Changing in groups of three
12. Changing in groups of three with more complicated dance patterns
13. Sicilian Circle with pauses
14. Sicilian Circle without pauses
(Sequence by Andrew Ellingsen- used with permission)

Some of the things that I am sure I have seen before but it was nice to be reminded of where the quick fixes for teaching movement such as "point your toes in the direction that you are going to be traveling" and if anyone is facing each other, someone is going the wrong way. He also did a great job of isolating new movements either by having us try it on our own first or trying it with our partner but without the music.

All of the dances that he presented were brand new to me! YAY! So now I have fresh, new ideas and dances to add to my mix.

Which leads me to my next topic. Every year at KMEA it is incredibly hard not to go crazy and spend millions down at the booths in the exhibits. I am really interested in incorporating the dances that Andrew showed us so I looked for Rhythmically Moving 3 which had the Mexican Mixer dance as well as Fjaskern.

When I was at the West Music booth I saw that I could get all nine CDs for a discounted price, so I am putting that on my request list for school!

Phyllis Weikart also has this book available and it looks like a true gem. I think I need this too!

Since these were bigger ticket items, I wasn't able to walk away from the conference with them in my hands ready to use this week at school, but I am definitely going to ask for them!

I didn't leave empty handed though! I did get many great new books to sing to my kids. My kids just love when I sing them a story. You can find out more about my story corner here.

All of these books are available through West Music.

We used this song in Level 3, but it would be a great one for steady beat and could also be easily paired with Going on a Bear Hunt or Grizzly Bear.

There is a song that goes with this book but when I saw it I thought of the song "Mother, Mother"

This is the book of my long song that I collected in Level 3 this past summer. I feel like it is called something else in my song collection though, like "There Once Was A Man".

Fortunately will be a fun one that I plan to use with vocal exploration. I have also seen it used with major and minor. 

The last two books, I got to sing to my daughter, Ellie. She has a bunch of rubber ducks that we line up in the bath tub and sing this song during bath time. We make the ducks go away and come back. I read this one to her first when we got home from KMEA and I could tell by the look on her face that she was just so amazed that there was a book that went along with the song.

I can remember this being one of my favorite songs when I was really little, so when I saw this little board book, I had to buy it for Ellie as well.

Do you use a similar sequence for teaching folk dancing and movement?


  1. You will LOVE the Rhythmically Moving set and Weikart book - they are fabulous. THANKS for the reminder of movement sequence, and for the book reviews!

    1. Yes, I am fairly certain that I need those Weikart materials!

  2. Those Weikart materials got me through my first three years of teaching. I loved them.

  3. Years ago I went to a week long workshop with Phyllis Weikart. She is fabulous and I have used her book and CDs since!! Have fun!

    1. So glad to hear other teachers are using them!


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