1. What did our Founding Fathers do for instructive entertainment?

  2. What were the rules of social engagement for ladies and gentlemen?

  3. Discover George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” and

  4. Thomas Jefferson’s passion for music-making and instruments

  5. Learn Ten Ways to tie a cravat;  How make (and move in) panniers!

"Colonial Conviviality: Music for George Washington  & His Revolutionary Friends"

What was musical entertainment like in George Washington’s day? Lively dance tunes, popular songs, meeting-house anthems, and harvest ballads and choruses meet together here in a program that combines musical heritage and history. Sondra and John Bromka’s authentic historical instrumentation is exciting and diverse, including harp, hurdy gurdy, hammer dulcimer, French & English bagpipes, recorders, Baroque oboe, African banjo, Spanish guitar, and wire-strung cittern.

"Colonial Dances for Children" Workshop

From minuets to reels, dance makes history come alive! The popular dances of our colonial period were a bright reflection of the colonists' diverse multicultural heritage, the lively legacy of the immigrants who came to build and work. From these beginnings, we can trace the first traditional steps and styles that came together to create a distinctively American dance heritage and flavor. All Bells & Motley dance workshops feature live music played on authentic period instruments.

"Colonial Costuming and Etiquette" Slide Forum and Hands-on Workshop

Colonial art images serve as primary source documents as students learn about what folks wore, how they moved, and how they interacted with each other at all levels of society. Then the artists demonstrate how to make great looking colonial costumes from materials readily found at home.

Playing Pennywhistles: Hands-on Instrument Workshop

The artists guide students in the playing of Early American tunes on the pennywhistle. Known in colonial times as a flageolet, this instrument is a cheerful friend you can carry anywhere - and one will provide much pleasure and a solid foundation for learning the rudiments of music.

In-depth residencies bring opportunities for Instrument building, playing: Dulcimers, harps, and more!

Dance Culminating Events

Dance workshops may be aimed toward student presentations at daytime or evening culminating heritage faires, colonial festivals and celebrations, or in-school sharing sessions.

Extended Residencies

The artists are available to assist in the creation of a unique project-based learning experience that embraces a spectrum of arts projects & integrates core curriculum. Culminating events are a specialty. Grants available for consultancies, planning, and implementation.

What Ages?  The artists have adapted the program for a variety of age groups; Most usually, Grade 4 through Adult

This program supports the following Arts Learning Standards:

#1 Creating, Performing, & Participating in the Arts

#2 Knowing & Using Arts Materials & Resources

#3 Responding to & Analyzing Works of Art

#4 Understanding the Cultural Dimensions & Contributions of the Arts

for more information:

Bells & Motley
Olden Music, Dance, and Storytelling

Sondra Bromka, John Bromka

“MonteViola”  36 South Street

Marcellus NY



“Colonial Conviviality”         Rules of Civility

Early American Integrated Cultural Arts


Artists’ Statement

As a duo, we began our own early explorations of Jeffersonian-inspired cultural vision many years ago, by means of two related undertakings. First, a music, dance, and social etiquette project we called “Colonial Conviviality: Music and Dance for George Washington and His Revolutionary Friends.”

Its centerpiece ideas sprang from the young George Washington’s favored “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation”

as well as Thomas Jefferson’s ambitions and efforts toward building a strong, healthy, and integrated American Culture. This included Jefferson’s service as an international ambassador to France, the success of which was due in part to his own attention to the “social tools” of music, dance, and other skills for social interaction. This first program was developed by means of a commission from a public school in Lebanon, PA,

and has since been presented in schools, libraries, festivals, historic sites, both in our own Northeast, and then interestingly,

back again in Europe!

Following the cultural ambitions of Washington, Jefferson, and so many others, we adhere to the belief that amateur music and dance are among the most effective, most joyful means of bringing strangers and people of mixed cultural heritage into activity and community with each other. It is the time-tested and most direct means for any individual to find a place of comfort and presence in a group. Our need for such activities, and the interpersonal skills they nurture, appear to be ever more valuable in our modern era.

Our Public version of this program is “American Heroes,” and all this has recently been spurred on by the purchase of a Greek Revival home, with extensive grounds. We have named it “MonteViola” or “Little Monticello,” and is a joyful place where we give music lessons, build and repair musical instruments, take on apprentices, engage in experimental fruit and vegetable growing, and more...

right in the heart of Marcellus.

You’d never guess by looking at the photo on the left the amount of restoration we have ahead of us!