Ann Ingalls

Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams’ Centennial

Serendipity. Who could have known that in 2002 when Maryann and I began to research and write LITTLE PIANO GIRL that Mary Lou Williams’ story would be published 100 years after her birth? Because of this, the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the American Jazz Museum and the Smithsonian will all be hosting special events in her honor.

Check out these celebrations. If you can’t be there in person, pick up one of her CD’s and move to the groove or come to see me on Saturday, January 23rd at 2PM at the American Jazz Museum. You’ll get a warm welcome from everyone there.

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Thousands of years ago, Roman soldiers played hopscotch to test their strength and speed, sometimes hopping over 100 feet carrying heavy weights! Today, hopscotch is a backyard game enjoyed by children (and lighthearted grown-ups) all over the world. This was one of Mary Lou Williams’ favorite games. Mine, too. My sisters and I would write the numbers on the walk that lead to our house. It was lots of fun!


  1. Draw a hopscotch design on the ground. The squares should be large enough to fit one foot and to make sure that a stone thrown into the square will not bounce out too easily.
  2. Throw a flat stone or similar object (small beanbag, shell, button, plastic toy) to land on square one.It has to land inside the square without touching the border or bouncing out. If you don’t get it right, you lose your turn and pass the stone to the next person. If you do get it, however, go on to the next step.
  3. Hop through the squares, skipping the one you have your marker on. Each square gets one foot. Which foot you start with is up to you. You can’t have more than one foot on the ground at a time, unless there are two number squares right next to each other, in which case you can put down both feet simultaneously (one in each square). Always keep your feet inside the appropriate square(s); if you step on a line, hop on the wrong square, or step out of the square, you lose your turn.
  4. Pick up the marker on your way back. When you get to the last number, turn around (remaining on one foot) and hop your way back in reverse order. While you’re on the square right before the one with your marker, lean down (on one foot) and pick it up, then skip over that square and finish up.
  5. Pass the marker on to the next person. If you completed the course with your marker on square one (and without losing your turn), then throw your marker onto square two on your next turn. Your goal is to complete the course with the marker on each square. The first person to do this wins the game!
  6. Make some of the smaller so that people have to step on their tip toes. You can even make some in the shape of a shoe to control the direction in which the person faces.
  7. The person has a certain amount of time to complete the course, or else they lose their turn.

Directions for this game were found at

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