Salamander Step Dance

Paul Jennings (after a folk song)

This fascinating amphibian can be found on at least five continents, but it is most in evidence in the Appalachian region of America. For that reason, and as a tip of the hat to the wonderful decades that Teresa and Paul spent living in that region, we concocted this bluegrass-flavored tune as a unique feature for your recorder players and assorted percussion, if you are so inclined. If you do everything we offer, you can add Boomwhackers®, unpitched percussion, and even a section for your players to do their own small step dance. (As a side note, it is interesting that the step dances common to Appalachia are related to those in the British Isles, as many early settlers there came from Great Britain.)

As for the recorders, we have two parts. Part 1 is harder than Part 2, but not necessarily so. Part 2 can be played with just G, A, B, and C. Part 1 can be almost as simple, though if you play all options, you will need to also add D, E, and high D.

You have the option (recommended) of adding woodblock, rhythm sticks, and washboard. And at bar 21, as mentioned, there is a section that allows players to do a very simple step dance in place. IMPORTANT: If you perform this part, be sure that players move their recorders from their lips a bit, and as they return to playing, they do this carefully as well. You may also choose to have some players play as others step dance at this point.

This piece is a great platform to study salamanders, Appalachia and the people who settled there, step dances, and, of course, the recorder. Share the tune with other teachers in your school as an opportunity teach across the curriculum.

To top your performance off, we have included an "Amphibian Chaser" called "Salamander Scamper." It's a much faster version of the basic tune, also accompanied by the great old-timey band found on the original track. Enjoy the pickin' and grinnin'... and playin' recorder! You can find a free, downloadable piano score for both of these tunes online. (See details following.)

Online extras - The free, downloadable extras mentioned can be found under the Graphics and Extras for Volume 20, No. 5 at

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.