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Meeting reports

Read the reports of our meetings with valuable tips and techniques from discussions as far back as 2010 through to our most recent events

Keeping Moving to Music
Ken Martlew, March 2024 pm                                                 


Ken’s presentation was “Keep your class moving with music”, aiming to reduce the amount of walking and talking, prioritising dancing.  He illustrated each element of his talk by dancing and calling himself and asking the class to dance to his called instruction. Ken produced a detailed handout for the presentation which was distributed to the group.

Teaching Children
Deborah Draffin and Sarah Whillis, March 2024  am                                 


Deborah Draffin, a former primary school teacher who herself danced as a child and has been teaching children for 27 years presented a session of tips and teaching aids for teaching children's classes.  Sarah Whillis also contributed on running one-off sessions for groups such as Brownies.

Teaching Advanced Dancers- also Book 53
Pat Houghton, September 2023                                                  


Pat Houghton, with musician Adam Brady, provided tips on teaching advanced dancers including more challenging dances, more challenging formations and more challenging techniques, so that the dancers get a higher sense of achievement.  Dance examples throughout the day were from the newly published RSCDS Book 53.

Coming Back Next Week?
William Williamson, March 2023                                                  

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RSCDS Centenary Chairman, along with musician Sandy Nixon, presented a very enjoyable day of hints and tips to make our classes enjoyable so that dancers will indeed want to come back next week

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Summary of the Weekend                                                    

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serTA celebrated its 16th year with a weekend of workshops and social dancing in Suffolk, 23-25 Sept 2022, with workshops led by Jimmie Hill, short talks by serTA members, and excellent music from Ewan Galloway and Ian Robertson

Read the Kate Thomson's summary of the weekend here.

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Report on the Saturday workshop given by Jimmie Hill

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Jimmie Hill gave us two very interesting workshops during the weekend.  The first focussed on teaching tips and a report of it can be read via the link below.

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Short talks - Recapping, Walk Throughs and the Dance Event

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Ian Robertson, musician, gave a short talk with discussion, from his perspective of playing for dancing, on the gradual move over the years to having more complex dances on programmes and therefore longer recaps and how this impacted on the band.

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Short talks - Starting a New Group

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Most groups had experienced a drop in numbers when resuming after the pandemic lockdowns.  Hilary Maidstone led a discussion on what were the most effective ways to reach potential new dancers and how to retain them

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Short talks - Teaching Young Adults

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Kate Gentles teaches in Cambridge, including a group comprised largely of university students.  Teaching this demographic brings different pleasures and challenges from the classes most of us teach - a higher turnover (though many do continue dancing elsewhere), but quick learners keen to improve.

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Short talks - Teaching Beyond Unit 5

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Mervyn Short challenged us to continue to develop our teaching skills, particularly outlining the importance of instilling good technique in all levels of dancers and this might involve continuing to develop our knowledge of areas such as physiology (and also gave a book recommendation on safe dance practice)

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Short talks - Gender Neutral / Positional calling                                                   

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Sue Last had attended online presentations in America during the pandemic, including some on Gender Neutral Calling during the pandemic and shared with us what she had learned and how she had put it into practice. 

serTA Sweet Sixteen Weekend, Sept 2022
Plans for RSCDS Centenary Year                                            

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Lizzy Conder, serTA member and RSCDS Treasurer, outlined for us the celebratory events that would be taking place in the 2023 RSCDS centenary year and artwork for producing centenary publicity and some special commemorative items that could be purchased

ISTD Dances republished by RSCDS
Judy Valvona, March 2022                                                         

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The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing published 5 books of dances 1971 to 1990s devised by their members for the annual McConachie Sword competition and including either a new formation or a variation on an existing formation.  These have now been republished in two volumes by the RSCDS.

Warm-ups and Cool-downs
Lynda Hughes, March 2022                                                      

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Lynda Hughes, Physiotherapist and Scottish Country Dance teacher, took us through exercises and simple dances to warm up joints and muscle groups to help protect dancers from injury

First Aid, October 2021


A full day First Aid Course for potential injuries at dance sessions, including resuscitation, use of defibrillators and injury response.

Mighty Mantras
Peter Knight, September 2021

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Mantras help in the demonstration and learning of formations, these mantras are so good they have been handed down teacher-to-teacher and now you can have them too.

The role of the MC
Colin Duncan, September 2021            


An interesting presentation of the role of the MC including the sins to avoid and a detailed to-do checklist of actions.

Digital music for Scottish country dancing ... part 1
Peter Loveland, virtual meeting, March 2021

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Part 1.  How digital music works and some of the different options of storage and playback systems you can use to bring modern music solutions to your Scottish country dancing classes.

Digital music for Scottish country dancing ... part 2
Peter Loveland et al, virtual meeting, March 2021

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Part 2.  Presenters gave their experience of different methods of using digital music at classes and for social dancing.

Dancing now and in the future
virtual meeting, September 2020     

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Engaging with your dancers during lockdown.  Four presenters recounted how they thought SCD would work for enthusiastic dancers in a socially distanced environment.

Workshop postponed due to Covid restrictions, March 2020


Workshop postponed - rescheduled for Sept 2021

How to do it and how to teach it
Anne Taylor, September 2019

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Anne shared some of her knowledge gained through many years of teaching both adults and children and discussed the standards of dance needed in the new Dancing Achievement Awards (DAA).

Music and SCD
Muriel Johnstone and Ian Robertson, March 2019


Dancing is music made visible. Making the most of music in your dance classes and working with musicians. Techniques to get the best from sound equipment.

Inclusive dancing
Malcolm Brown, September 2018


Teaching dancers with various abilities, thoughts on adapting the use of space, music and formations to the dancers' best advantge.

Innovation with simplicity, Derek Haynes' dances
Maureen Haynes, March 2018


Derek Haynes' dances' key attribute is that they are basically simple but with innovative variations, creating exciting new formations.

The ways people learn ... plus ... Highland steps
Rosemary Harvey ... Mervyn Short, September 2017


Sharing knowledge to raise awareness and reflective thoughts when reviewing the teaching experience.  Followed by highland steps, starting with the more familiar and advancing to technical steps.

Controlled abandon
Helen Russell, March 2017

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Keeping it social with good phrasing, elegance and musicality.

serTA 10th Anniversary weekend .. Pat Houghton, Anne Carter, Jane Rose, Marilyn Watson, Judith & Ian Muir, September 2016


The interface between the dancer, the teacher and the musician. Integrating music and teaching, and what the musicians and teachers can expect from each other.

The chicken and the egg
Judith and Ian Muir, September 2016


The interface between the dancer, the teacher and the musician. Integrating music and teaching, and what the musicians and teachers can expect from each other.

Keep teenagers dancing
Marilyn Watson, September 2016


Making it fun, group enthusiasm and growing confidence for younger people in Scottish country dancing.

Teaching technique by stealth
Graham Donald, March 2016


Helping to improve dancers' technique by demonstration, looking at posture, core strength, hands and feet.

Putting on a display
Paul Plummer, September 2015


Smile, eye contact and engagement between the dancers with good posture, good covering and being at the right place at the right time. Knowing the chosen dances well helps too!

Rediscovering old dances
Jimmie Hill, March 2015


There are no rights or wrongs, we don't know exactly how old dances were performed or old instructions interpreted. We attempt to marry the dance with contemporary music and dance manuals.

Getting the best out of your dancers
Sue Porter, September  2014


Up front is good class preparation, a positive manner, enthusiasm and humour, and appropriate dress.  Consider the music, the venue and the dancers in your class.

Scottish country dancing and the internet
Anselm Lignau, March  2014


Scottish country dancing resources on the internet, how to set up your own website and publish infromation on it.  Once you have a site, keep it up to date, there is nothing worse than an out of date site.

The role of an MC
Andrew Kellet, September  2013


Prepare and think about how to present dances, consider the likely standard of dancing, plan the timings and leave time for encores. Do work closely with the musicians and understand the sound system

Preparing a dance programme for dancers and musicians
Ian Muir, September  2013


Exploring what makes a good dance programme, the contribution of music to enjoyment, variety and atmosphere. Also the dark side, what makes a nightmare programme.

Teaching SCD and dancing techniques
Paul Plummer, March  2013


Teaching techniques including using your voice. listening to yourself, keeping the mood lively, all based on planning ahead, flexiblity of approach and keeping dancers engaged.

The age gap
Ken Martlew, November  2012

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Working with dancers of various ages, the benefits of dancing for health and not making too many high technique demands of dancers, perhaps learning later in life, there for the fun of it.

Easy when you know how!
Mervyn Short, September  2012


Awkward sections of dances and how to dance them well. Easy when you know how!

Vocal exercises ... and ... dancing challenges
Katy Salt and Mervyn Short, September  2012


How to care for teachers' voices with vocal exercises, water, honey and blackcurrant, not caffeine and alcohol. Breathe correctly and project the voice. 

Subtle motivations
Ann Smyth, March 2012


Ways of motivating dancers with fun, praise, fair sharing of the action, achievable targets during classes; all will enthuse dancers.

Music for Scottish country dancing
Robert MacKay, September 2011


A musician's view on Scottish dance music, how the musician can help the dancer and the partnership between the teacher and the musician.

Teaching children and young people
Marilyn Watson, September 2011

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Lot of know-how on teaching after-school clubs, private classes and teenagers with a review of some challenges and ways to get the class logistics and motivation right.

Ceilidhs, weddings and taster sessions
Wendy Mumford, September 2010


At ceilidhs and weddings remember you are probably working with many non-dancers, don't teach footwork, just make it fun.  with good demonstrations and call the dance right through.

Come and try Scottish country dancing
Wendy Mumford, September 2010


serTA members tried out Wendy Mumford's very practical demonstration of how to teach dances and manage ceilidhs.

Planning a technique class
Dave Hall, April 2010


Encourage dancers to listen to the music, use helpful counting, develop teamwork and correct phrasing.  The challenges of foot positions, posture, body weight and alignment.

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