Are the Amish Allowed To Dance?

The rules that Amish communities follow may seem unusual to people outside of their community. Yet their traditions have formed strong communities and families for hundreds of years. Their deep devotion to God shapes many of their convictions, including what they believe about music and dancing. Many people interested in the Amish community want to know if members are allowed to dance.

Amish people aren’t allowed to dance because they believe the activity is unholy, immodest, and leads to sin. The Amish lifestyle promotes humility, especially when women interact with men. Therefore, the Amish community prohibits dancing in all forms.

This article will explain the Amish attitude to dance, music, and the playing of instruments. It will also describe what Amish people do for fun.

Also see Do Amish Use Electricity? to learn more.

Amish farmer
What kind of music do Amish people listen to? See below

Are Amish Allowed To Listen to Music?

Amish people can listen to live music, and singing is a popular recreational activity in their community. While songs are generally limited to church hymns, folk and country songs are also popular among the Amish community. However, they cannot listen to recorded music.

Amish singing is generally sung acapella and performed in person. In line with their broader attitude towards technology, the Amish rules don’t permit people to listen to recorded music. As a result, they usually do not listen to music that does not involve their community in its production. [1]

Unsurprisingly, Amish community members also cannot listen to music through electronic means (such as listening to music online and on phones). Moreover, even mechanical devices, such as cassettes and record players, are prohibited under Amish tradition.

Some Amish people from more liberal communities may be exposed to electronic devices like radios and television at their workplace. [2] However, even in these situations, they are advised to avoid listening to pre-recorded music when possible.

That said, it’s noteworthy that not all members of Amish communities adhere to this restriction. Some members may listen to music on the radio, especially younger members who are looking for ways to rebel without leaving the community.

Also see Why Do Amish Drive Black Vehicles? to learn more.

Amish buggy
What is the danger of playing instruments in Amish communities? See below

Are Amish Allowed To Play Instruments?

Amish people are not allowed to play instruments. In general, all Amish perform music acapella. While a few community members may learn to play the harmonica or accordion, they will never perform in public. Playing these instruments is limited to the home. [3]

As mentioned above, most singing in Amish communities relates to church hymns, and the Amish believe that a person’s voice is God’s instrument. [4] Playing a man-made instrument when singing damages the relationship between a person and God and is discourteous towards God’s instrument.

Additionally, the Amish encourage conformity. Because of this, there is concern that playing instruments could lead to outsized attention being paid to the person playing an instrument. This, in turn, could lead to people showing off or developing inflated egos, which is against the Amish belief in subservience and submission to God. [5]

Finally, some community members believe playing instruments can be a gateway to the modern world. It can lead younger community members to idolize musical artists who play the instruments – perhaps even musicians from outside the community. [6]

This is also why Amish people who play the harmonica or accordion don’t play it outside the home. Keeping their music private prevents them from receiving outsize attention in the community and reduces the risk of developing an ego. 

Some communities even outlaw the playing of instruments altogether. However, while the Amish cannot play instruments, this does not destroy their relationship with music. 

Because they have few distractions, music is considered an acceptable pastime for Amish people. Aside from singing hymns in church, they will also sing during other occasions, such as when they work in the fields, do the housework, or complete chores. Families will also gather as a group to sing and spend time together.

Also see Are Amish Friendly To Outsiders? to learn more.

Amish buggies
Can the Amish play sports? See below

What Do the Amish Do for Fun?

For fun, people from the Amish community go hunting and fishing, visit other people in their community and other communities, go camping, and engage in other outdoor activities such as bird watching and playing card games and board games. Solo hobbies like letter-writing and reading are also popular.

While Amish rules prohibit people from using electricity and other modern conveniences, this does not mean they cannot have fun. 

Playing board games and card games, including Scrabble and Monopoly, is extremely popular in Amish communities. However, as gambling is prohibited, there is never any gambling involved when playing these games. [7]

Additionally, the Amish are very community-minded people. They enjoy socializing with other members of their community, as well as other Amish communities. Some progressive communities also socialize with Mennonite communities. 

Socializing among the Amish often involves visiting people in their homes, inviting them over, or spending time talking with them in the fields and church. 

If community members have family members or relatives who have moved to other communities that are not accessible by horse and buggy, they will spend time writing letters. As the Amish do not use telephones and mobile phones, this is the primary way of staying in touch over long distances. 

Another way the Amish socialize is by going to auctions. People organize auctions as a way to get good deals on equipment and materials needed for an Amish farm or household. While there is practical value to these events, they also double as a way to spend time with friends, especially as many auctions occur across communities.

In some Amish communities, sports are also enjoyed. However, because the Amish place great value on community, team sports are the most popular.

Most people don’t play games competitively but as a way to promote a sense of community. Children still in school especially enjoy sports, though adults play them too.

However, because sports are competitive in nature, they are controversial among the Amish

Some communities discourage adults from participating in sports, so joining leagues is contentious and rare. Children are encouraged to play, but the community expects them to stop playing sports after marriage. However, some may play non-competitively with their families. [8]

Final Thoughts

Amish people are not allowed to dance, listen to recorded music, or play most instruments. They are allowed to sing and listen to live singing.

Also see Why Do the Amish Wear Blue? to learn more.

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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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