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Singing Games for Families, Schools and Communities

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Introduction by Nancy Mellon:

One rainy morning I visited Anna Rainville's public school and all the children were dancing. Teachers were singing and clapping. Even the most reluctant young people were studying the footwork and weaving the patterns of the line and partner dances she was calling. Anna stood on a table to direct the orchestra of movement activity. The dances rolled into one another and an indescribably determined and joyous spirit filled the hall. Shadows of early adolescent self-consciousness shrank into the corners of the room. Her confidence in the inherent truth and beauty of each dance had spread its contagion, and a mood of eager learning prevailed.

On another occasion when I was invited to give a talk to the parents at her California mountain school, Anna preceded the meeting outside with singing games. As the evening mists gathered in the trees, I was fascinated to see computer scientists and CEO's ducking and twining with artisans and harried working mothers, stepping the songs and dances that their children learned in the classroom. After a long day of work and striving, they so obviously loved being in the spell of the dance with Anna. The singing and movement surprised them. When it came time for my presentation on the art of storytelling, the spirit of the dance had opened their hearts and ears. The shared forms of spiral, circle and line brought them to the innocent participation in life, which is the best starting point for any tale. The dances released a wellspring of community spirit.

At Anna's family home in Saratoga, California, not one of the seasonal celebrations in which I have been privileged to participate has begun without fiddle, song and dance. The live oaks and dancing green in their garden must await these special moments, when dozens of teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and children gather to start the occasion with singing games. No matter that Anna had been cooking and organizing these events, at the key moment she leaps into the melee. Lee Anne plays the fiddle, and Anna begins to sing and call. Like swallows, in an instant everyone swirls into formation. Even the most tired teachers put down their tea and find their feet.

If you are a teacher and wish to invite the children you teach to find balance and gleeful kinesthetic skill, there can be no more enjoyable way to go about it. If you are a remedial specialist, there's much to be learned from the old wisdom weaving in these tunes and dance steps. If you are a family member who wishes to warm the core of joy hidden in daily struggles, choose a song in this book and take hands to find the buoyancy that has lifted generations. If you are baffled by community dynamics, look for a new and refreshing pattern in the pages of this book. Find your voice and put on your dusty dancing shoes. Here is a panacea that works!

ŚNancy Mellon, Author of Storytelling and the Art of Imagination, Storytelling with Children and Body Eloquence Dancing belongs to everyone. In Singing Games for Families, Schools and Communities there are dances for all ages. Here is one for the very youngest:


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