Gather 'Round Children: America's Folk Song Heritage


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Album cover of <i>Putting On the Old Folk's Clothes</i>, artwork by Anni Marlee Litt and Tom Peal.

I'm looking for my little lambs!

Miss Jenni and her mountain dulcimer

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Gather 'Round Children: America's Folk Song Heritage is a flexible presentation of pioneer children's songs and dances researched, composed, and performed by Jenni Mansfield Peal of Dallas, Texas.

In the days of the pioneers, a special time in big celebrations was set aside for children to dance and sing together: the play party. That way, young pioneers could meet each other and have fun early in the evening before their parents and other adults joined the traditional square, round, and other dances. Gather 'Round Children is a special show that re-creates play-parties and introduces young audiences to the songs and dances of pioneer Texas. Dressed as a pioneer mom, she keeps kids singing and moving while giving them a glimpse into the lives of the settlers. Accompanying herself on mountain dulcimer, guitar, and concertina, Jenni interacts with children and introduces them to regional traditional songs. Where appropriate, she leads children through easy, energetic "play party" activities in a relaxed playtime style.

Gather 'Round Children is appropriate for children from eighteen months to twelve years of age accompanied by adults. To learn more about how Gather 'Round Children: America's Folk Song Heritage supports TEKS (Texas public school curriculum requirements), click here.

Whether simply providing a unique entertainment or working in schools to support a wide range of educational objectives, Jenni works with what children bring to the encounter, leaving no-one out. In come-and-go settings such as festivals, parks, and museums, Jenni appears as a pioneer song-mistress to share songs with children and families individually and in small groups, always getting children involved with a song game or an invitation to play her dulcimer.

Children's songs known to have originated before 1900 allow children to sing about the natural world and everyday occurrences on the farm and as a pioneer. They allow children to role play and interact with each other in safe, friendly ways. Although they are antique, pioneer play party songs and dances are as fun for children now as they ever were, and Jenni has had fun sharing them with children for many years. Visit Jenni's Children's Music Biography page for more details.

Period songs including The Fox is on the Town, Old Rattler, and The Crawdad Song were preserved for our time by Texas folksong collector Ab Abernathy and others. Gray Goose was brought into recorded history by Huddie Ledbetter with help from the great folk song collector Alan Lomax, expresses the perseverance for freedom of it's African American origin. Jennie Jenkins is a traditional partner-choosing round dance and Bingo is a foot stomping, clapping and shouting children's version of the Virginia Reel. For a complete list of the songs and dances Jenni is currently using in her shows, click here.

Contact Jenni to discuss how she can bring her flexible, fun, researched show to your classroom, event, or museum.

So far, Jenni has given away about 100 copies to public libraries including Dallas Public Library (all branches); Valentine, TX Public Library; Schulenburg, TX Public Library; and the public libraries of Portal, AZ and Okemah, OK.

Putting On the Old Folk's Clothes Album Cover by Anni Marlee Litt and Tom PealPutting On the Old Folk's Clothes
is an album of traditional and original songs for families by Jenni Mansfield Peal, available on compact disc from Scatterbranch Music Publishing, Dallas, Texas. Released in 2009. Songs: The Old Chisholm Trail; Putting On the Old Folk's Clothes; The Crawdad Song; Git Along Little Dogies; The Fox is On the Town; Frog Went A- Courtin'; Old Rattler; The Milkmaid and Her Pail; Johnson's Old Gray Mule; Good-bye Smile.

Please contact Jenni for copies of the CD "Putting On The Old Folk's Clothes."
Click here for the lyrics to all ten songs.

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