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  • There is a close relationship between daily life and music. Looking at the words of Chester, written by William Billings during the Revolutionary War, the impact can be seen.

    Chester Lyrics give an indication of history’s impact on music composition.

    Let tyrants shake their iron rod,

    And Slav'ry clank her galling chains,

    We fear them not, we trust in God,

    New England's God forever reigns.

    Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton too,

    With Prescot and Cornwallis join'd,

    Together plot our Overthrow,

    In one Infernal league combin'd.

    When God inspir'd us for the fight,

    Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc'd,

    Their ships were Shatter'd in our sight,

    Or swiftly driven from our Coast.

    The Foe comes on with haughty Stride;

    Our troops advance with martial noise,

    Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth,

    And Gen'rals yield to beardless Boys.

    What grateful Off'ring shall we bring?

    What shall we render to the Lord?

    Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,

    And praise his name on ev'ry Chord

    Traditional British melodies were used with new Colonial music.  Colonial life saw emerging societies  duplicating what was familiar to the colonists. An example of this could be seen in the rise of Singing Schools.  One of the first of these was begun in Charleston, SC in 1766. Doubled harmonies was typical in these singing schools.

    Simple Square dances, also known as square dances were a type of entertainment for communities.  Music was generally simple meter with repeated phrases.

  • I really enjoyed the quadrille dance, I think it would be fun to try with my preschool students.  This music is so cheerful and fun that it would be a fun and motivitating.  In preschool, my students are learning how to follow more than one direction and I think it would be great for teaching directions, as well as the exploratin of dance and musical concepts and the understanding of the history behind the dance.  With that age group, I'd teach them the circle at one time, then the movement line another day and then I would have them practice them together on another day.  I'd also bring in some older students to help them with standing by and across from their partner and to keep the movement flowing.   


  • Patriotic music was very popular to help boost morale in troops and relate stories of battles to others who weren’t there. “Chester” by William Billings was the first “national anthem”. The rhythmic march kept the troops moving together and the words sung by all to inspire confidence in the troops and create a sort of wall of sound against opposing troops. Sometimes British melodies were used with new lyrics in parody. Dances such as quadrilles were performed during this time period. Instruments such as fiddles, basses, drums, and accordions were often used to create music for the dances.

  • I loved dancing the "Willow Tree" quadrille! I have used a quadrilles, similar to this one, in my own class room, but this one was new to me. The kids absolutely love it! Again, I was able to make some more historical connections! Hooray! When I taught dances like these for my westward expansion unit, I talked about the barn dances and such, but now I have more to compare that to in relationship to the long Viennese dance halls. I had totally forgot about that important factoid. What a great opportunity for kids to be able to visualize and compare the ornateness of the baroque with the colonial period.
  • The music and dance of the American Revolutionary times seems much less formal and much more playful.  Certainly, there were still social expectations and rules to be broken but the dancing is less precise.  Certain motivations for the music (inspiring soldiers, building patriotism, growing the identity of a nation outside of colonialism) is clearly evident.  The music is loud, forceful and energetic.  It makes me think of strength and courage.


    The idea of architecture (which is controlled by resources and status) serving as a motivating factor in developing new styles of dance is also interesting.  "Necessity is the mother of new invention".  How much of our art is created through a need to change to new physical realities?

    In a very practical way, I believe this music will be very engaging for young kids.  It is fun, the dance moves are playful.  It seems more approachable than the formal aspects of the waltz.

  • Dancing the quadrille is fun! I can only imagine it was as fun in Colonial times, too. In this regard I think this kind of dance transcends the time, because it's about music, beat, and having fun with others, especially members of the opposite sex.  I imagine many Colonial era people living pretty tough lives, including lots of physical labor, so I imagine dances were a welcome relief from daily drudgery. I also think the stricter societal rules about what was acceptable behavior between the sexes probably made the dances all the more exciting.

  • This is one of my favorite periods of history.  I have always been fascinated by Colonial times and George Washington.  It's great to fuse those facts and pieces of history to music.  I have often looked at and read the historical information but have not focused a lot on finding out who the common composers were and what types of music they are writing.  (Although I personally enjoy the use of piccolo and drumming during these musical times).  I tend to stick with European and then modern America.  This will be a great addition to my dance unit as well as my composer of the month unit.  I never knew the bass was referred to as the devils fiddle... another fact that my students would just LOVE to know!  I enjoy teaching Quadrille's to my students.  The only problems I have run into is "touching" and getting the kids to move down when someone sashays down the middle.  And a little something fun for them... after we do it traditionally, I allow them to dance down the middle in any appropriate way they want versus the same old sashay.  I will definitely apply both the history and the dance to my classroom next year.  Great information!

  • I enjoyed learning this dance. I liked when you said that it was a dance that helped to boost motivation and often had a message. The dancing doesn't seem as formal which I liked. It seems like a dance that everyone could do regardless of their background or ability.

    This is something I could do with my class just as a fun activity. It is a way to get the energy flowing and could be the beginning of a conversation. It is something I see people doing to celebrate. As we were doing this I was thinking about how it might be done at a birthday party or other fun event. This is a dance that could help your mind take a quick little break and relax. There is not as much thinking involved as there was in the waltz.

  • Excellent group activity and simple enough for elementary students 3rd - 6th!  I know my students would love the chance to "shine" while sashaying down the middle :)  It would be fun to have simple hats or scarves for the boys and girls to feel as though they are actually playing a part during colonial times.

  • The quadrille was a fun change up from the waltz.  While there was a structure, it was much easier to follow.  A single-step mistake in the quadrille would not have thrown off the whole dance as it did with the waltz.  This would make for an easier dance to do in the classroom than the waltz.  The quadrille also formed more of a team than the waltz.  This would be a great opportunity to move around the classroom, especially if intermixed with lecture material.

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