Marilyn Watson – Teach an After School club and Robert MacKay – Music for Scottish Dancing – 25th September, 2011

South East Region Teachers’ Association Meeting – 25.9.11

SERTA’s Hemel Hempstead meeting comprised two excellent workshops.

Marilyn Watson’s session was in three sections – teaching an After School Club – typically 5 – 6 year olds; teaching Private Children’s Classes – for children from age 4 ½; and teaching teenagers until University.

In each group the vital thing is to grab the children’s interest with exciting, enjoyable classes, and variety. With School classes made-up easy dances are used with fun titles like Dinosaur Jig, The Friendship Circle, and the Fairy Ring. We enjoyed dancing these. End of year certificates and demonstrations at the School Fete provide incentives.

Private Children’s Classes have the same routine as School Classes, beginning and ending with an easy dance, varying step practice, and correcting faults weekly to stop bad habits developing. Variety is added via step and Highland dancing, displays, and writing dances. This encourages teenagers to stay on until University. Thus Marilyn’s message was think bigger than a weekly class, with parties, outings, running their own dance, helping with younger children’s classes etc.

Robert MacKay’s talk on Music on Scottish Dancing was most entertaining with many musical examples.

He ran through the nine rhythms commonly used in SCD, and gave several examples of ways the pianist can help the dancer.

Ways to improve the partnership between pianist and teacher were suggested, including checking that the piano position allows eye contact. The teacher should limit talking and bring the music in as soon as possible. (Robert has resorted to crosswords or sudoku with garrulous teachers). Let the musician know the music required well in advance, particularly with new musicians, so they can get supporting tunes together. With so many more dances than formerly the musician cannot have all the dance/tune books, so give your musician the music with non RSCDS dances.

When making up a dance programme he advised talking to the musicians beforehand, and giving them the proposed programme for their comments.

Jane Rose and helpers kindly organised the refreshments for the day.

Next SERTA meeting is on March 18th in Purley, led by Anne Smyth. It is open to all who lead an SCD group whether qualified teachers or not.

Barbara Martlew