Wednesday Afternoon Tour Options
Brock University (St. Ctharines) is located in the Niagara Peninsula approximately 16km (10miles) from Niagara Falls and 25km (15miles) from the charming historical town of Niagara-on-the Lake. The Niagara Peninsula is home to more than 50 wineries and is renowned for ice wine production. Mid-summer in Niagara is punctuated by mild fluctuations in temperatures with short periods of humid days that can reach into the 30’s C (90’s F). St. Catherines is also part of the historical centre of early Canada. Whether you are interested in history, shopping, geographical wonders or wine, the options for the Wednesday afternoon tours are sure to have something to interest you.
Each option includes transportation. Of course, you are free to do your own thing as well.
These tours are paid for separately from your Summer School registration. Registration the tours will open before March 1, 2024.
Option 1 - Shaw Festival
Niagara –on-the-Lake sits on the shores of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. It is known for its wineries and the world class Shaw Festival Theatre. An annual theatrical tradition, the Shaw Festival is a highly prestigious season of theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town approximately 30 minutes from St. Catharines. This summer the play My Fair Lady is the feature while we are at Summer School. We have 40 tickets booked! The cost is $120. This tour must be booked before June 1st. No cancellations or refunds after that date.
Vacant seats on the bus will be offered after June 1 to those wanting to travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake to spend a quiet afternoon exploring the picturesque town. Cost: $20 (This option will only appear after June 1 when we know how many seats are left.)
Option 2 - Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is made up of three different waterfalls, the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. The three falls combine to produce the largest water flow rate of any waterfall in the world. Located 45 minutes from St. Catharines you can't miss seeing these spectacular water falls as well as do some amazing sight seeing and shopping. The bus will drop you off at a convenient location and pick you up at the same spot approximately 4 hours later. What you do there is up to you! There are 45 spots available on the bus. Expected cost is $20.
Many options are available to explore the area once you are in Niagara Falls.
Walk 1.6km (1mile) beside the Niagara River to view the Falls. If you don’t want to walk, there is a WEGO bus available for $13 which will take you to various locations in the Falls.
Take a boat trip on the Hornblower to experience the power of the Falls from the river. It is recommended that you pre-book this to avoid the line-ups. The bus will drop you off at approximately 1:30. For more information go to:
For more options, tourism information can be accessed using the following link:
Option 3 - Wine Tour of Two Wineries
There are over 30 vinyards in the area. Seeing all of them in one afternoon is not possible, however, our local team has put together this fabulous option of seeing two. A bus will pick you up and transport you to the first winery where you will be treated to a flight of four
local table wines with food pairing. You will then travel to a second winery where you will experience a luxury tasting paired with food and sparkling and ice wines. This tour will be limited to 20 and the cost is $70.
Training for Tutors 2024
An exciting new offering is on the program for Summer Events 2024: a Training for Tutors course!
This is for teachers who want to be prepared to tutor candidates locally or at TAC. The Education & Training committee of the RSCDS has been working on an updated method of delivering this and we are fortunate that Graham Donald and Ellie Briscoe have agreed to lead the training.
The course includes online video conferences as well as in-person sessions. There will be two 3 hour videoconferences approximately 6 to 8 weeks in advance of the 6 hours of in-person practical tutoring which will be on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (July 29, 30 and August 1). We need at least 8 participants to run the course so please consider it.
The cost will be $100 for those attending Summer School and $150 for those coming just to this course.
The applicant must:
i) Be an RSCDS-qualified teacher with a wide range of experience of teaching all levels
ii) Have good assessment skills and organizational ability
iii) Have good communication and inter-personal skills
iv) Be able to show continuing development in his/her own teaching skills since certification
In addition, at least some of the following is desirable:
a) Experience of presenting teams for festivals or demonstrations
b) Experience of teaching at Schools, weekend courses or day courses
c) Knowledge of music
d) Some experience of coaching or delivering training, not necessarily in dancing.
Registration will open by March 1, 2023
| Class Teachers Summer School 2023
Sharon was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and moved to Calgary with her family when she was young. She started Scottish country dancing at the age of 7 and has been a part of many of the classes and demonstration teams in the Calgary area. She has over 45 years of dancing experience.
Sharon started teaching SCD to beginners at one of the local groups in Calgary in 1994. She received her preliminary certificate from the RSCDS in 1998 and her full certificate in 2002. Since then, she has been teaching classes in Southern Alberta on a weekly basis. She has also taught at many day and weekend workshops across North America. Recently, she has taken up tutoring and loves sharing her passion for Scottish country dance with others. In addition to teaching, Sharon has held several board positions with Calgary Branch and Teachers’ Association (Canada).
Sharon is also interested in other forms of Scottish and Irish dance. These include Irish ceili dancing, highland dancing, and Scottish step dancing.
Gary began dancing at age 10 in Dufftown, Scotland, with Jessie Stuart as his teacher and gained his full teaching certificate in 2013. Gary, who is currently the RSCDS Chair-Elect, has taught at various weekend and day schools in Scotland, Europe, and North America, including RSCDS Summer School, the 40th anniversary weekend of the Stockholm Branch, TAC Summer School in Vancouver, and the Munich Scottish Association Dance Weekend.
Gary dances with the RSCDS Aberdeen demonstration team, loves a good birl, enjoys dancing strathspeys (especially ones with the poussette), and thinks the most important thing about Scottish country dancing is having fun!
By day Gary works for the University of Aberdeen, is married to Joanna, and has 2 children, Bess and Flora.
Mountain View, California
With Scottish heritage on both sides of his family, Alan developed a love for traditional music at an early age. His parents danced with the Reel & Strathspey Club that preceded the formation of the San Francisco Branch of the RSCDS and often took him to Highland Games and pipe-band concerts as a child.
Alan discovered Scottish country dancing as a college student, amongst other dance forms such as ballroom and international folk. The music resonated with some early memories, and the intricate patterns of SCD stood out from the other styles. He soon sought out a weekly class, then two . . .
Alan passed both the RSCDS teaching exams at St. Andrews in the 1980s and has taught regular weekly classes at various levels ever since. He has served as a guest instructor at weekend workshops across North America and tutored candidates for teaching exams. He also continues to participate in SCD performances, chiefly with the Red Thistle Dancers. Favorite memories include choreographing and performing a sword dance for the San Francisco Opera and teaching and performing in Norway, the Czech Republic, and Russia.
“SCD is a great activity for keeping body and mind engaged, for sociability, and for responding physically to the wealth and variety of music in the Scottish tradition. It has helped me connect with diverse people worldwide, leading to experiences and long-term friendships I never expected.”
Rohnert Park, California
Some of my earliest memories include watching my parents performing Scottish dance at a Burns Night celebration in Mapleton, Minnesota, where my mother grew up. Her uncle started the organization, and twelve of my relatives were involved over the years. Many Scots who settled in this area arrived before the SCDS was formed. Their dance style hadn’t evolved with the times as it did in Scotland. For example, dance pumps as we know them today were worn for performance, but not social dancing.
This was a very fertile ground to “grow up with it” and produced dreams of teaching it. When my parents bought a restaurant, and my mother couldn’t continue teaching, I had the opportunity to take over. So, at a very early age, that’s exactly what I did. 54 years later, I reflect on how little I knew then and how little I know now! The more I learn, the more I want to know.
In 1981, teaching Scottish dance and music became a full-time endeavor with classes in highland, step dance, Cape Breton step, country dance, and piping. Teaching these forms has taken me around the world and provided many an adventure. What better life than to share traditions, old and new, with all who love to dance!
What is Summer School?
Summer School is an annual event hosted by TAC for Scottish Country Dancers around the world to come together and have fun. Oh and maybe improve their dancing.
It is a week long event with classes in the morning with teachers from around the world. The afternoons offer optional classes with everything from personal technique to yoga to a musician’s class for dancers. Teachers and classes vary every year as does the location.
Hosted in North America, Summer School travels to different university campuses across Canada and the United States. Dancers have the Wednesday afternoon off to participate in different tours, but also have the option to come early or stay later to explore the area.
Classes are held at four different levels from Fundamental to Challenge with low-impact as an option in most. Like all Scottish Country Dance events, you can come on your own as you are guaranteed to meet other people and make new friends.
In the evenings, there are different activities to occupy our minds and develop our social skills. With four nights of dancing, the other nights include a Ceilidh and one surprise night. Our week ends with a Banquet and Ball where dancers have a chance to dress up and show off their new skills. All the programs for the dances are posted 5 months ahead of time so there’s lots of time to practice.
If you have ever thought about learning more about Scottish Country Dancing and widening your social circle, Summer School is the place for you!
Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship
Bobby Brown (1941-2011) devoted his life to the playing, researching, recording, and teaching of Scottish Dance Music. As an individual performer, a member of two Scottish Country Dance Bands, the Musical Director of the internationally renowned fiddle troupe The Cape Breton Symphony, and the leader of The Scottish Accent, Bobby Brown was a leading proponent of Scottish Country Dance music and traditional Scottish music in Canada, the United States, Britain, and Europe for over fifty years.
Scope and Purpose
Understanding that cultural preservation is dependent upon the devoted cultivation and transition of knowledge, Bobby Brown encouraged young musicians to learn and preserve the songs and tunes of the Scottish tradition. At workshops and classes, Bobby set aside his performer responsibilities to become an engaging teacher and eagerly instructed participants in the subtle idiomatic nuances of traditional Scottish music. He loved playing, and Scottish music was in his soul.
In his memory, the annual Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship was initiated in 2015 to provide funding towards the cost for tuition, meals, and accommodation for one musician to attend one of the following:
• A music internship at TAC Summer School
• A music course at TAC Summer School
• A music course at a TAC-recognized Scottish Country Dance event
2023 Bobby Brown ApprenticeSarah Lynn, Texas
On July 30th I woke up to begin my big Adventure to Canada. I was brimming with excitement ‒ for the past 4 months, I had been organizing my huge TAC music binder, writing bowings into hundreds of tunes, and practicing daily. Scottish Country Dance was still relatively new to me, so I knew this would be a good challenge and an important learning opportunity. After 15 hours of travel, I made it to my dorm room, expecting to just nod off, when Marjorie texted me “Come hang out with us!” I went down the hall to find a room full of warm, excited faces smiling back at me and giving me welcoming hugs. Immediately, I knew this was going to be an even more special week than I had anticipated.
Monday morning began with breakfast and then straight to Ron Wallace’s class. I had heard nothing but high praise for his teaching style and ability to work with musicians, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t have asked for a better first class at TAC ‒ between Ron’s energetic and clear teaching style and Kathy’s advice and support, the class went smoothly and my confidence increased for the coming classes.
Every day I played for a different class. It was so helpful to play for all class levels and with different teachers. It gave me a wider overview of what to expect in different situations.
The evenings were quite fun and challenging, and taught me a different set of skills. Getting to play with the Tartan Ties gave me a deeper understanding of the hierarchy of roles within a SCD band (mainly, band leader vs members) and the skills needed to operate in each respective position. On a more personal level, getting to play for hundreds of dancers in the evenings was simply electric! I have never been in such a position, and it solidified my desire to play for SCD.
Socially, TAC was a blast. I was very quickly adopted by the young dancers and included in all their fun evening plans. It’s always a bit intimidating for me to be in a new situation where I don’t know anyone, but I never once felt shy or alone at TAC. The SCD community is incredibly welcoming and encouraging, and I hope to take that energy with me into the world. One unexpected highlight of the week was exploring Halifax on our afternoon off. We got ice cream, went shopping, and had dinner and drinks - it was a great bonding experience for our new group of friends!
I am so thankful to have been chosen as this year’s Bobby Brown Apprentice. TAC was everything I had hoped it to be and more - I will be using this new skill set for the rest of my life and will forever have TAC to thank. My only complaint is that I can’t come back EVERY year!!
Previous Bobby Brown Apprentices
2023 Sarah Lynn, Texas, US
2022 Connie Walker, Los Angeles, CA US
2019 Lorraine McCormick, Lethbridge, AB Canada
2018 Sarah Thompson, Minneapolis, MN, US
2017 Martha Matthews, Los Angeles, CA, US
2016 Heather Cameron, Plymouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
2015 Mary Ross, Victoria, BC, Canada
The Music Director for the 2024 TAC Summer School will work with one pre-selected lead player /melody instrument (fiddle, accordion, keyboard) on a daily basis in the capacity of a private tutor/coach. By the conclusion of the week, the candidate will have all the necessary information and skills to confidently and competently play for a class and future dances. This program could potentially be developed to incorporate additional summer school musicians working in the same manner with piano, bass, drums, or other instruments.
The apprentice program will include the following:
- Selection of approved and appropriate music for dances
- Opening & Closing Chords (Bow & Curtsey)
- Grace notes & other idiomatic choices
- Phrasing, Dynamics, Interpretation
- Assembling sets/ musical research
- Guiding & assisting the candidate through classes
- Working with teachers
- Afternoon discussions and preparation for the following day
- Involving and preparing candidates for participation in evening socials where possible
Provided a suitable applicant meets all the following criteria, one award will be made for 2024
• The musician must have demonstrated a genuine interest in Scottish music, preferably with some experience playing Scottish Country Dance Music
• The musician must have the desire to improve his or her musical skills
• The musician must display an appropriate level of technical proficiency on his/her instrument, with the ability to improve musical skills
• The musician must have the passion and commitment to continue to play for and promote the music for Scottish Country Dancing
The next deadline is March 31, 2024
A musician may apply for the 2024 Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship by submitting the following:
• the completed application form (download Music Application Form)
• a letter of application that addresses each of the above eligibility criteria
• a recording of three tunes; at least two of the tunes should be in the Scottish idiom
• a letter of reference from a Scottish Country Dance teacher, RSCDS Branch, or music teacher
• Applications for the 2024 Bobby Brown Music Apprenticeship received by the deadline will be reviewed by a committee of the Scottish Country Dance Teachers' Association (Canada) including, but not limited to: TAC Chair, TAC Treasurer, TAC Summer Events Director, and TAC Summer School Music Director.
• The award will be presented to the recipient in the form of a pre-paid scholarship (to a maximum of the cost of the full-week resident registration fee, including meals and accommodation, dependent on the value of funds available)
• A recipient can only be awarded the scholarship once
• Following the 2023 TAC Summer School, the recipient will forward a report on his/her experience to the Teachers' Association (Canada) for publication in the next issue of TACTalk