Movement Reflection – Day 8

Level Ones,

What a day! From an Israeli folk dance to creating your own folk dance (and teaching it!) to exploring the drum alone, with a partner, with a story, with poems, and encapsulating our time together with a powerful experience as a whole. I look forward to your thoughts…

With Love, Matthew


  1. Barb English

    I went to heaven and back today. The last dance was a spiritual experience for me. I’m sorry that the Catholic church no longer allows liturgical dance. But that won’t stop me from bringing it back to my classroom (since I can, teaching in a Catholic school). But I know I can’t start there. Students need to have the day to day experiences of practicing the locomotor and non locomotor and seeing the time, space, energy, and movement and how to use it in their movements before coming to a place where they could have this powerful experience. But they will get there and I can’t wait to hear their reflections.
    Having the experience of teaching without a voice today was eye opening. It’s not as easy as Matthew makes it look. I am going to have to practice this skill before trying it with the students.

  2. patrickh

    We cover so much in our hour and twenty minutes it seems I could expand it to how long it would take for my kinders along with covering all the preparatory material and I’ve got at least a month’s worth of lessons. The preparatory items alone would take a month. The independence fostering preliminaries could take all year.

    You have given us a language of sorts for teaching movement without words. We seem to have picked it up quite well. The lovely thing about it is it requires students to pay attention. It tells them to pay attention. Facial expressions compliment as well as show approval or disapproval. Again, what a useful tool

    Our time with drums was beautiful; encouraging rhythm making outside the norm. Is there a book listing all the books used in music and movement making and how they’re used? What a tremendous resource that would be.

    I loved the segue into the Barber. That piece moves me in any of its forms and it invites movement.

    Two days to go and I have to wait three weeks before I can try anything with children. 🙁

  3. Kathleen

    Tsunami flowing will definitely be Music I use in my classroom this year! Probably because I had a partner who just kept saying YES to fun dance & shape explore, I felt like today’s warm-up was a mindfulness exercise with awareness of the connection I had with my awesome partner! This is something I know my students tune into, based on their responses to each other during exercises like this.

    I enjoyed the experience of trying out the nonverbal technique when forming and teaching our folk dance. The frustration I felt was key to my realization that choreographing this way is a new experience for many and that then teaching this way takes time to refine our sound vocabulary and style. Good gifts! In the end, both dances were pretty fun! And the time exploring all those processes together was extremely valuable. Thank you for the opportunity.

    I have been wanting to incorporate “Press Here” into a lesson but could not figure out how to do so. Thank you for the inspiration using hand drum technique as lead-up lessons.

    As mindful as I thought I might have been in the beginning, the Adagio for Strings (Agnus Dei) experience made me so confused because my previous relationship with this Music is hearing it while watching the movie Platoon! So, I got stuck in all those feelings and therefore I wasn’t able to move the way i might have. I know the children come to us with any number of experiences before they get to school and then come to my classroom. I can never be sure if or when someone will have an experience like that in response to Music I Play. Perhaps this will help me be more empathetic towards a student who seems stuck but can’t explain why.

  4. jcompto2

    The creative use of the hand drums with the movement opened my mind to all kinds of possibilities!

    When we began first by making a shape like a drum and making sounds for striking the drum, I instantly thought of my younger students and how much fun they would have by both being the drum and getting to play someone’s drum. I liked the option that two could play on a drum and we got to move around to all the different drums. Then when we used the hand drums, it reminded me of the egg shakers, in that we were able to use the instrument in unique and creative ways.

    Students often think there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to play an instrument. True, we need to focus on safety so we do not break the instruments, however, I now see there is much validity in allowing the child to explore when their imagination all of the possibilities.

    I want to have a banner made for my music room that says “What If?”. That is going to be my go-to phrase for this school year!

    James Compton

  5. Paul Swardstrom

    First, thanks for taking it a bit easier today than yesterday. Boy, I didn’t have it in the tank today, but boy, did the expressiveness come out! I’m finding that the more that I do these movement acitivities with the same people around me, the more comfortable I am getting, not only with my own expression, but also with in interaction. I’ve always been so reserved that these interactive dances are a big step outside of my comfort zone. However, in several opportunities to dance with a partner today, I found a few times of genuine, unreserved expression.

    Now, I’ll admit that during the Barber piece I danced much of it with my eyes closed, making it difficult to develop an interaction there. Two factors there. One, the idea of free choice in interaction with others is still overwhelming, but also that the music and the experience became very powerfully personal. I found it to be a time of worship, grateful that God has given me the opportunity for this experience.

    I noticed that just a few people took over and directed the non-verbal teaching. I can see how awkward it can be, but I look forward to working through it with my own students.

  6. krismosch

    It was fun to experience all the movement variations with drum! A great way for children to explore this instrument in a playful way. I used the “Press here” book last year during our art unit. It will be a great extension to have the children with their drums be all the dots, especially when they all come to together! Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with it!

    I enjoyed working together with my group to come up with a folk dance and how everyone had their voices heard. Having the word cards is a good strategy, as could also be seen in the video clip with the second graders Mathew showed us during lunch break. I also find it more productive to only be given a short amount of time to come up with the dance. It was such a delight to teach and be taught without words in the end. Lot’s of happy faces all around and a great community feel!

    And yes, having Barber’s Adagio for strings in the end as a foundation for creative movement was very welcome!!

    Can’t wait to see what the next two days will bring!

  7. Lisagosing

    I really enjoyed the “Tsunami Flowing,” perhaps because the beats and phrases were so predictable. Using positive and negative space with another person we really COOL! That would work well with just about any grade level that is comfortable with movement. The “Indo Eu” will definitely work with the younger ones, and teaches/reviews a few concepts: levels, phrases, etc.
    I agree with James on the drum shape/drummer exercise. I could imagine a lot of children really enjoying making themselves into a drum and then drumming someone else’s drum. I will have to try that one!
    The segue from poetry right into the “Adagio for Strings” worked well for me, probably because I know the piece so well I could not tell if the piece would work well with elementary students without some specific prompting (partners, leaders, mirror, shadow, props, etc.).
    The creation of a folk dance was frustrating on so many levels: we used too many moves and not enough repetition, we had difficulty on agreeing on a sequence, we added a very advanced move that was not one of our choices and teaching it to the other group WITHOUT words was really challenging! I am glad we had such an experience just to show us what students might feel like in similar situations.

  8. mattcarlson

    I was not prepared to end class in tears, and to take a good 15 minutes to recover with some “aftershocks” throughout the afternoon, but I’ll get back to that later.

    I really like the idea of having groups create their own dance with some options. We tried to fit everything in, but found that simple was good, and adding some extra moves was helpful in places. I believe in your video that you showed, your students didn’t have as many options, and I think that could be helpful for them.

    I have done positive/negative space before in a workshops, but never with students. I found the workshop experiences to be quite intimate getting close and moving gracefully with my partners, but don’t know if It would be the same for my students, or if it would turn into something inappropriate? I think I will give it a try, and if I see that it doesn’t work, or shouldn’t be doing, I can just stop it.

    So, “Adagio.” I enjoyed being free to explore everything we’ve done. I tried to incorporate levels, locomotor and non-locomotor movements, stops, mirroring, shadowing, and coping from the side, staying in place, and going on lines, wiping the floor with a scarf, I especially enjoyed the positive/negative spaces I did with some people. What got me was transforming from a seed to tree and back, in 8, 4 and then 16 counts, and then finishing wrapping myself in a hug and letting the lip quiver then the tears fall. I’m pretty sure if someone came over and hugged me I would have completely lost it and bawled. I’m in a place of changing and growing, working through a divorce, finding myself, and finding this wonderful community these past two weeks has been absolutely wonderful.

    Matthew, thank you for your leadership and creating an environment where we can be vulnerable and expressive.

  9. ggoodson

    Today was a day! I laughed, I cried, and overall enjoyed myself immensely.
    I was reflecting on what a spiritual experience movement and dance is. Today I felt in tune and close with my partners, which enriched so much of my activity. The negative space movement was a blast and I can see my students really enjoying it like I did. I also loved the folk dance creation and seeing the video of Matthew’s students doing a similar activity…another thing I’d love to try!
    The ending activity was the icing on the cake. To move so freely and feel so deeply while connecting with others and connecting within myself was a beautiful and restorative experience. As always, loved every minute of today!

  10. Emily Loftgren

    What a day. A very emotional start to the day. Why am I so afraid to show my emotions? Anyway, I didn’t cry. So much to process. I loved the Israeli dance and hope to teach it to my 5th grade class after months of movement and simple dance exploration. I can’t wait for the year to begin. Till then, I have so much information to process. Thanks Matt. ❤️

  11. Helen M Stalsberg

    The use of hand drums is a genius way to lead students into exploring positive and negative space! My group struggled a little bit putting a folk dance together, but then it came out better than expected in the end. It is definitely a lot harder to teach a dance without words than I would have expected. The end of our lesson today was extremely powerful and an almost out of body experience. If was very special connection with people in unexpected ways. I know with time and practice students can be lead to feel these same emotions, and that is exciting.

  12. Andrea Dinkel

    The first dance we opened with was a lot of fun! One of the aspects of the dance that I liked was that it was fun, got us moving, but wasn’t incredibly upbeat or fast. A lot of times when I teach folk dances to my students I feel like they get so excited and wound up. I loved that the dance was active and fun, but could be a calmer dance for students. Exploring the drum activity was hard at first. It took me a few rounds to stop using my hands every time and think of different ways to play the drum. I felt as if the presenting of the drum was easier to think of then playing the drum in different ways. I have never thought of creating a folk dance, and doing it with guided cards made it a lot easier to comprehend and break down. I think the struggles of the activity were more related to a struggle between strong personalities than the activity itself.
    Today was definitely been my favorite day for movement class, especially the ending activity. It almost felt as if everything we have been learning built up to that exact moment. The idea of moving with purpose, using levels, interacting with others, utilizing positive and negative space, were all concepts that I feel our group used. A lot of emotions were brought up in the movement that I wasn’t expecting. I believe the combination of feeling safe in the space, interacting with others, and the beautiful music all combined to make a beautiful moment in class. I’m so thankful I experienced it!

  13. Allison

    Rollercoaster of emotions today! Still attempting to be more vulnerable and to let go more in my movements. I occasionally get overwhelmed (or overheated!) and have to take a minute. But I will always get back in!!

    I am a naturally ‘hands on’ kind of person; I give a lot of hugs! That being said, I found myself feeling slightly uncomfortable and vulnerable during the negative/positive space activity. Not sure why? Was I worried that I wasn’t giving enough variety and/or creativity for my partner? Was I self conscious about my movements? Pondering…

    Adagio for Strings. Ohhhhh…the feels. Like many of us, I knew the song and had actually sung it several times. Part of me was transported back to when I sang it and how performing that with a choir felt (man, I miss singing in a choir). Another part of me really began to clue in to what the music asked of my body and how that felt; physically and emotionally. I had a really rough teaching year last year (Of the two schools I taught at, one was the worst: I was moved out of my music room into the gym, prep was gone, extra classes to be taught, set up and take down every morning and afternoon, no administrative support, feeling like I had failed my students and that what I was doing did not matter). I have been using this summer as a time of letting go of all of that and truly focusing on my mental health. Though I did not cry today (waited till I got home), I felt such a cathartic release during this activity. I am seriously feeling invigorated and can’t wait to get back to my kiddos in a few short weeks!!!
    Thank you Matt, truly.

  14. Stacy Figuracion

    The folk dance from Israel was so calming and meditative even though it was upbeat. The simplicity of the form and the breathing as we went in and out of the circle was centering.

    It was fun to get to experience trying to teach without using words. I had fun trying out some classic Matthew movement sounds instead of words! All of this group work really has me thinking about how sometimes it just works and sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of factors are at play when groups are creatively collaborating, especially with a time constraint. Even with adults you feel some frustration mixed in with the discovery and creativity.

    After the “make a dance and then teach it to the group” activity, I found myself wondering what would happen if you decided as a class on a starting formation and then assigned each small group to come up with just 16 beats that could be performed in that general formation. Then took a minute to link each of those ideas together into one larger class dance. I have seen the Amidons do something similar but as a whole group, not small groups. I wonder if the smaller task of 16 beats and already decided on a standing formation would make it more attainable for my students.

    The ending activity was so much fun and forced everyone into vulnerability that we have had to develop over the past two weeks. I felt such a sense of connectedness to others and with myself. I loved the freedom to move by yourself and then notice something beautiful or interesting someone was doing and think “I want to be a part of that!”

    This reminded me of a more mindful and calm version of an activity we did last week (I honestly can’t remember if it was with Jennifer, Andrea, or Matthew…so much information in my brain) where basically we could choose to mirror, shadow, or kind of do whatever anywhere in the whole classroom. I am pretty sure that this was with Andrea. But when we did this activity it was to a much faster song and it was super joyful. It was interesting to experience something more reflective today and to add in all the movement skills we have been learning since then!

  15. Adrienne

    The opening dance had a great tempo. Joyful was the mood I perceived around me. Lots of energy in the movements but not super fast. It seemed relaxing for most and possibly gave some of us a safe gentle passage into really trying to experience the not so clear or predetermined movement concepts today. Today seemed less scary and just fun. I was cracking myself up during the last shared experience having fun in the moment tryingout the positive and negative space concept and really trying to not care if it was correct or not just exploring what it might be. I felt like the activities today were even more interpersonal.

    Thank you Matthew for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us today. You have already given us such a huge treasure chest to pick and choose from throughout the course. I can’t wait to get into my classroom and go through all my books and resources with new eyes and practice using cueing sounds. I’m still amazed about the wow factor of simple props In making a huge impact on our lesson approach.

  16. apeterkort

    Today I learned about positive and negative space. Although I have experienced it in POSA workshops I didn’t know the terminology. It can be a little risky getting in people’s personal space. Emily and I explored different levels to fill the negative spaces.

    I noticed in the hand drum exploration that when Adrienne and I performed we were automatically coming up with high sounding rhythms when we made smaller drums and low sounding rhythms when we made big drums. I wonder if students would do the same.

    I really enjoyed making up our own folk dances in our groups. I noticed that when one group was trying to teach it to another group, it wasn’t necessarily easier for me, for example to pick up on the steps just because more people were involved teaching the dance. I found it confusing when so many people were involved in trying to get me to learn the dance. It was almost a sensory overload.

    I’ve definitely been coming out of my movement shell, and today was no exception. I was completely taken over with emotion during Barber’s Adagio (didn’t realize that there was a choral version until today). That was such fun! Thank you! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us tomorrow!

  17. Nathalie

    I truly like our movement class today. Starting with folk dance is never go wrong. I am still truly amazed on how Matthew teaches the dance without words. It is hard to apply it for sure, just like we did in our dance. I am definitely going to try it this school year and will see how it goes. I think if I start by little and if the kids already know my style, it would be easier to manage. The last modern dance just blew my mind, I enjoyed it very much. I felt free moving without using any pattern or form, but just go with the flow either with mirroring, shadowing, using levels and etc. I could feel the energy moving and how much I am aware with my body moving. thank you Matthew for the opportunity to just dance with adults.

  18. nathale_ho

    I am really amazed how you teach movement to the class without saying anything and just dance it. It made me want to focus more and tried to anticipate what’s the next move. Also, the warming up your body in the beginning of the class. Exploring the idea of my space, waking up my bones and muscles and getting ready for the class.

  19. Tracy Cripe

    Working with a partner to fill in negative space went well with a gracious partner. These things are getting easier and more comfortable. When I started teaching elementary music I noticed how much form was talked about and broken down. Honestly, much more than I had pondered as an instrumentalist. During our choreography creation we took on a lot of consecutive moves without repetition which maybe made it a bit more difficult to learn and teach to the other group. I was yearning for a repetitive form to follow.
    I found my self sometimes enjoying and sometimes stuck in the “Adagio”. Part of it was comfort level and fatigue, but at the same time, there were certain moments I was able to witness a lot of beauty in the creation of the movement merging with the music.

  20. griebeew

    Today was so freeing! While I have lots to learn about my own body and the different ways I can use it, today I kept realizing I was moving and shaping my body in more dynamic and exploratory ways, without meaning too! I look back and can connect that all of the risks, techniques, vocabulary, and movement experiences of the last week (and more) allowed for more creative expression when given extensive freedom. This is a lesson for myself, because I need to remind myself that students can’t just show-up and dance creatively, expressively, nor comfortably without those previous experiences. I’m excited to figure out a way to build my student’s body awareness and movement “vocabulary” from K-5, and to see them grow and change as moving musicians.

  21. Brian Janssen

    Oh my garsh, the Israeli dance was YET ANOTHER WINNER! I look forward to trying it out–not complicated, but also not like other dances I’ve done, a cool change of pace!

    I was frankly impressed with both dances that the two groups came up with in a short time, and teaching them without words in a group was a little mind-boggling, but it just goes to show if a group can do it surely I can on my own.

    I’m usually a little weirded out by dances where you’re invading a partner’s negative space, but with the practice we’ve been doing over the last several days I felt rather comfortable with it today. I am so hoping that I can get more buy-in with my students who feel funny touching hands in a folk dance or choosing new partners during a song…I will surely encourage them that I was in a class this summer and that I pushed myself to try new things and felt better and better about it.

    It took me a little while to catch on to the “be a drum” exercise, but once we got into it I thought it was very fun and even felt like it was cut short at the end!

  22. Kedra Davis

    I did like the Israeli folk dance and look forward to sharing it with my students. The piece reminded me of some of the Fiddler on the Roof music. I appreciate that you vary the cultures of the music you give us and I try to do the same for my class. As always, I love the way you teach music without over explaining. Creating a folk dance was a fun activity I would love to give to my students after loads of practice and experience in folk dance elements as well as some group work experience and instruction. The Adagio was an enlightening experience that showed me more of how humans can benefit from expressing their emotions through music via movement.

    • Kris Curtis

      I agree Kedra. 🙂 Getting acquainted with different culture’s folk dances is enlightening. It gives us a chance to experience new things musically with movement and adds to our repertoire skill wise and educationally.

  23. Brandon Day

    There were lots of things that I once again learned and enjoyed in today’s movement class. My key “aha” moment of the day was the drum activity which I really enjoyed and think I can pull this off with my younger kids. I like Matthew’s Scaffolding of the lesson and this is something that I will definitely do in my classes.

    I like the structure of the drum lesson as we started out individually 1) making different shapes of the body, leading to drum shapes 2) In pairs- intertwining the bodies- going through each other 3) making individual invisible drums shapes 4) pairing up with a partner and either playing their invisible “drum” or making the shape of an invisible “drum” for our partner to play 5) getting an actual drum to play and alternating between holding the drum for our partner to play or we’d reach for the drum of our partners and play theirs 6) moved around the room finding other peoples drums to play when called 7) switched from being a drummer to being the drum.

    I also liked the creation of a folk dance and the challenge that it provided for the teachers and the learners to do it non-verbally. There were a few moments of tension and angst, which being a student who made a “mistake” (or the partner near me did so I got off as well) I was snapped at which was an awful feeling. I honestly had to take a little breather and calm down before I felt like I was ready to return to the activity. This made me think about my own teaching, am I ever (unintentionally) short/snappy/rude with my students? Being on the receiving end was a valuable lesson and it showed me that I really need to use caution when I correct my students. I need to come from a place of compassion and convey this love and desire for my students to get it right. I don’t want them to ever feel like I’m disappointed in them. If I’m too snappy or short, it may ruin the experience and paint music in a negative lens. Food for thought….

  24. Brianna

    Wow! So much to unpack from today…where to begin? First, I loved the folk dance–so simple, and yet so musically satisfying. I really loved that we got to create a folk dance and try to apply some of Matthew’s non-verbal teaching strategies. It was really interesting to see how effective we could be without talking. I also loved that we got to see what this activity might look like in a classroom setting. Thank you so so much Matthew for sharing your students’ work with us!

    So the “Adagio”…it was actually an incredibly emotional experience for me. I teared up a bit at one point and that was really satisfying. That might seem weird, but sometimes I just feel like human beings (me included) are so wrapped up in our heads and other garbage that we stop reacting in the moment and stop feeling. It isn’t always a bad thing-restraint is sometimes necessary, but I found today that I was breathing differently based on my movement and I just felt–different. I was really invested in the moment. I don’t usually feel 100% invested in the moment. Usually I’m thinking about at least four other things at any given time, but today I was really concentrating on the movement and it was liberating. It just made me feel differently than I had ever felt before. I am so on fire for movement right now! I just want to learn more and more about facilitating these meaningful experiences for my students.

  25. Kris Curtis

    I really appreciated the variety of movement and dance we did yesterday. I had two major takeaways from all the instruction. The hand drum exploration was so enlightening to experience. I have always associated the drums as primarily an auditory expression with movement being complementary, effecting the quality and technique of sound. Using the drum and pantomiming the drums to explore artful speech and movement as the primarily artistic fields, was just something I never connected before yesterday. Experiencing that an artistic “a-ha” moment for myself as a musician/dancer as well as an educator was amazing. The concept of drumming has many facets to explore, create, perform, and analyze.

    The ending lesson on whole group exploration with “Adagio for Strings,” was just uplifting, cathartic, emotional, and spiritual for me. It gave me a chance to use the skills I have worked on the last two weeks within myself and with others in our group. During this experience, I felt like I was connecting melodic ideas, rhythms, shapes, levels, locomotor and non-locomotor movements as part of an ensemble. The connections of sight and active listening felt very similar to what I have experienced personally as being a member of an orchestra, or when things are hitting on all cylinders and you become the facilitator in the music classroom.

  26. Diana

    I continue to be amazed at all the different ways you can use various instruments other than the traditional to teach students concepts in new and fresh ways. The possibilities seem endless. When we run out of ideas or inspiration, we can look to others for new paths. Our students can be the source of this or other educators.

    Also, Adagio for Strings holds a special place in my heart. I love that piece so much. I was so excited when I walked in on the ending of the morning session of movement and saw everyone moving to it. Getting the chance to freely move to Adagio with a wonderful group of people was very meaningful. Thank you.

  27. hgmiller55

    Well, I thought I had done a reflection yesterday, but I don’t see it here. I really liked creating our own folk dance using movement cards. And teaching it without words was awesome. Using the drums as a movement item was interesting. The last dance did feel uncomfortably long. I felt like I was repeating a lot of my movements.

  28. rehmkecj

    Today was the day I felt like I could actually be a dancer! That last exercise was so moving and emotional. I have never quite experienced something like that with movement and it was incredible! I also really enjoyed the dance we learned in the beginning. That is something I would love to teach to my older kids.

    Another thing I really enjoyed was the vocal cues. I feel like I am catching on and really want to use these with my incoming kinder and develop that culture from the beginning.

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