Amy's Paradise

This blog may be the ramblings of an Irish Dancer in Australia who writes stories too…

The Adventures of Studying for the TCRG Exams – 15/03/12

Well that just blows…

didn’t do very well on the practice exams I’ve done so far, but they were the first I did without looking at the book! So 50% correct in that respect is all right. At least it isn’t 20% or something! GOD, that would just send me down a spiral of foreseeable doom!

You hear about all the horror stories about TCRG exam about hows there’s a 75% fail rate and such… but the examiners aren’t out to get you, apparently, they help you if they sense that you do know your stuff. I’ve got to remember that they’ve been where I’ve been… unless they dinosaur age and created the whole terrifying experience. Who knows?

Apparently, there are about 32 people doing the exam both TCRG and ADCRG here in Australia. It’s quite a few more than expected as it’s been over 18 months since the last exam took place down in Sydney. Now it’s in Brisbane, very convenient for me and my friends doing the exam at a nice Bar/hotel. We’ll be getting smashed once the exams are over apparently! Doesn’t help that I don’t drink, but it’ll still be relief once the whole thing is over, but I don’t get to find out my results till October. I think I’ll forget the whole horrifying experience by that time because I’ll be focusing so much on Nationals!

I am freaking out slightly with doing the practice exams, studying the book and set dances. That CD from the pack I got a few weeks ago is so different to the ones I’ve been listening to from the 100% pure set dance CD, I’ve gotten worse in that aspect. I guess it’ll take time. Thing is… I don’t have time. It’s just two months away and I’m going overseas to Worlds, London and Paris for THREE weeks! I want to be excited about going on holiday but I’m so screwed! REALLY screwed! I guess I know what I’ll be doing on the long flight over there and back! Practice exams!!!

*breathe into a paper bag*

I’ve figured out my problem ceili’s that I just blank out when I’m doing an exam and they just keep popping up! There’s mainly four, which I just have to keep going over in my head.

Waves of Tory, Duke Reel, Antrim Reel, the order of the Bonfire dance (I know ‘The Rose’ pretty well) and the third figure of the sixteen hand reel (explaining it in detail that is) I know it’s ‘Arch Arms’, but how to dance it I have no idea. But they like to trick you in the exams. You always expect that when the Gates of Derry question pops up you think they’ll ask about ‘Telescope’, but no the question I had was describe in detail the first two movements. So ha! They can catch you out with any question they please! You have to LEARN everything! There are no two ways about it!


I guess I just keep doing exams! The Ar Rinci Foirne is my new bible and I have to learn chapter and verse (ceili’s and order of movements) off by heart!

If any one has any tips for the exam please help! Me and my friend could really use the advice! I know people like to give advice… readily!

This is our dance school dancing in the parade last year in Brisbane! I'm the girl in the red, black and white dress!


So this is it two days before St. Patrick’s Day! More displays for the public while they drink down their beers and spirits!

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Much Ado About TCRG Exams… 7th March 2012

How did it get to be the 7th of March, eh?

I don’t know…

And just don’t ask about study? Really… I tell you now… it’s hopeless!

I’ve done some practice exam papers and… I haven’t gotten them back from my teacher who is marking them, but I felt like they were just BAD! But… who knows right?

How am I going to survive this? A 2 hour written exam! It’s just ridiculous!

And it’s just over two months away! ARGH!!!! Freaking out!

Though we have had nights getting together (some of the others going for their exams and my teacher) to visualise the ceili dances and boy does it help. Visually seeing what the dances are than what is written on the page makes a whole lot of difference.  It’s hard because no one does them in competition so it’s difficult to see them. Now I can actually remember Glencar Reel, Harvest Time Jig, Haste to the Wedding and Bridge of Athlone, now that we’ve gone through and danced them.

I got pretty excited when I got my examination preparation pack four weeks ago and it was massive. MASSIVE. Practice papers X 10, CD with the set dances on it, Child protection booklet, Code of conduct booklet, syllabuses for ADCRG, TCRG, TMRF, and grade exams (I think the CLRG were having a massive clean out), brief history about things, more application forms (for what exactly? I don’t know) and they photocopied the entire ceili book (Luckily I bought one about a year ago). As I said massive. Barely fit into my mail box.

I also got some other exciting news, because I really didn’t want to retire from dancing just yet, but I couldn’t really wait till the next set of exams to come around, so I got permission from the Head Office to hold my results until after the Australian National Championships! I’m so excited! It’s in Adelaide where I haven’t been before! I’m determined to get a place this year. I get to do Nationals ONE LAST TIME!

Teaching little kids have gotten a bit easier. We got two new little ones, so it’s best to be with them from the start and it’s so exciting to see them get better and better each class. It’s rewarding seeing them do a proper over-two-three for the first time. Plus, they are absolutely adorable!

I think my study has lapsed a bit because during the last few dance classes we’ve been focusing on the upcoming event of St. Patrick‘s Day. This year we have the first ever Brisbane Irish Festival which my club, Queensland Irish Association, has put together with sponsorship from the government. It’s from the 9th -17th and we have to dance a hundred different displays at a thousand different places! But the main events that I always look forward too are the Parade, we get to dance for all the officials like the Lord Mayor and Premier and such, then there’s the Irish Fair, which are usually held at the Botanical Gardens but now held in King George Square (if you’re familiar with Brisbane City scape). I guess this has been distracting because it’s exhausting spending the entire day dancing at different venues, but it’s all worth it. Great memories and helping a part of our culture stay strong!

So not very far for the 7th of March, but I don’t think I’ve gone backwards… that much!

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The Hound of the TCRG Exams – 08/02/12

Things are not going well…

My studying has slowed… I’m frightening to small children… and it’s only several weeks away…

I don’t even want to count them! Eek!

I’ve been having some issues both with dancing and personal… I won’t go into depths about my personal issues, but with studying the ceili dances… WHAT A NIGHTMARE! My teacher was like ‘write a book out each night! It’s the only way you’ll learn them’. Do you know how much that is? Several several pages and my writing hand aches after writing out just a few… so I sort of stopped studying. But then I’d feel guilty because this is a Eight hundred dollar exam! You can’t just fail it! So I thought writing it out is not working for me – everyone works differently so I’m trying a different approach… I just learn the order of the movements of the dances… one ceili dance a day! It’s working… I just stroll around at work and just go through the order of the movements in my head (the customers look at me funny thinking I’m talking gibberish). I’ve got about ten so far (out of thirty) that I can write down in order… I mightn’t know how to dance those dances, or how on Earth to teach them but hey! I know the order – it’s a start.

Then I can go back and write out one a day but hand… duplicate it onto the page… I was overwhelming myself I think and taking a step back I might be able to manage it… but then my teacher gets me all nervous again about studying she wants me to start practice exams which I’m SO not ready for… I attempted a few a week or so ago and the first one did did not go well. Every question I had to sneak my nose into the book and cheat… I’ll get there soon. On the weekend I might attempt another and hand it too her to mark. I won’t know everything yet, but I do know some… It’s all a working progress it is…

Now… small children… I really hope I don’t get a child who doesn’t talk… It’s difficult… very difficult, especially when you’re not good with children in the first place… First day back at class for the year and I offer to help with the new beginners class to help my teachers and myself getting to know children. And there was Lily, the most adorable four year old wearing all pink and pigtails. My teacher just tells her to come with me and do the third step of her reel and I just (in a sweet voice) command her about. She keeps getting the step wrong and I haven’t a clue how to fix it. I know what it is, but how to put it in a way a child understands… another story. I tell her what’s wrong, but… ARGH! She just nods her head and then gets it wrong again. I try and show her, but nah! I think I was very scary… my teacher then saved me and I watched her careful in how she interacted with her and then gave me pointers in how you have to be very visual with them. Talking to children in dance terms is another language… you have to be very visual with them (like teachers do with ‘A is for Apple’ with a picture of an apple). I realised that next time I have to shrink to their height so I’m not big, tall and scary, ask for their name and introduce myself…

The next week was much better with Orla. I remember having to help her last year in classes. So I got down on the floor, asked for her name and asked if she remembered me… She didn’t but that was all right, so I introduced myself again… We got to communicating… Thank God! She talked! It was MUCH easier! And she actually progressed really well and learnt a new step of the light jig! I broke it down easy enough for her to understand and everything! It’s was really rewarding… Not much had happened, but still!

I’ve made a few more rhymes to lilt for the set dances, they’re not as creative as some of my other rhymes, but they work, whenever they start on the iPod I start lilting and I instantly know what set it is (this was one of my teachers brilliant ideas).

But practical way of making up my set dance steps, I’ve started Rodney’s Glory and I almost have a whole Treble Jig, but unfortunately, I’ve forgotten my hornpipe! I’m sure I’ll remember it! I’m pretty good at those things, I can remember my Lodge Road from 4 years ago without visual help so… a few weeks should be fine!

So that’s all I have so far for the 8th of February… till next time!

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On The Road to my TCRG Exams – 21/01/2012

Celtic Choice (by Fays) Irish ghillies

Image via Wikipedia

I’m starting this blog of my journey to the TCRG exams (Irish dancing teachers’ exams) as there are many others that I’ve found that have been useful to me… such as making up silly rhymes for the music of the written music test…

Hopefully this helps others as well as myself in keeping track of my progress. It is a journey that has to be done… and done right!
Okay… so here it goes…
Studying for my TCRG exam started about a year ago… I have the Ceili book ‘Ar Rince Foirne’ and music CDs and my lovely teachers to help me.
I’m a student at the Queensland Irish Association Dancers in Brisbane, Australia. I started when I was seven after seeing Riverdance on television. My mum wanted me to start Ballet, but irish dancing just looked too awesome to pass up, so I started that instead. Thank God! I instantly fell in love it and would never dream of giving it up.
It is a part of my identity now.
I have no Championship titles under my belt, but I believe that hard work, patience and passion is key to what I need to pass this exam.
The exam has many parts to it…
  1. Practical test of dancing.
  2. Written Ceili dancing test
  3. Practical test in teaching Ceili dancing
  4. Practical test in teaching step dancing
  5. Written music test
  6. Oral irish language test (optional – if you live outside Ireland)
Practical test of dancing:
This should be pretty simple as I’m currently dancing… still doing competitions… I have my Reel, Double jig, Slip jig, Single Jig, Hornpipe and four Traditional Sets – St. Patrick’s Day, Blackbird, Job of Journeywork and Garden of Daisies pretty much down pat.
Also I have to have nine set dances of my choice:
Garden of Daisies, Drunken Gauger, Planxty Drury, Madame Bonaparte, The Lodge Road, Hurry the Jug,  Rodney’s Glory, Three Sea Captains (Short) and Ace and Deuce of Pipering are my chosen nine for the exam (but may change).
My creative juices have only given me Madame Bonaparte, Hurry the Jug and Three Sea Captains. Luckily, I still remember my Lodge Road, Drunken Gauger from previous years and learning Garden of Daisies for comps this year. But I still have to make up Planxty Drury, Rodney’s Glory and Ace and Deuce of Pipering… I’ve basically hit the dancing version of writer’s block with these three, but hopefully once dance classes start up again, the pipes will unblock and the juices will flow freely again.
Written Ceili Test:

The written ceili test is killing me… I’ve started the practice exams from the internet and I’m failing. I can’t go a question without looking into the ceili book! Yikes! The fact that I haven’t studied the ceili book as much I should have over these summer holidays… I’ve only studied book one and I’m getting there. Started book two today… but I must do more prac tests!!! My motivation has been lacking!
Practical Ceili Test:

Then I have to teach the ceili dances off by heart… me and small children… it’s hard! I don’t have the natural hand with children like others do. I wish I did, but I guess it’s a matter of confidence. They can’t hurt me I suppose, but this section is probably the main thing to whether I’ll get my teacher’s certificate or not. I have to be able to work with children to make the whole thing worth while!
Written Music Test:
The written music test… Ahh! Tricky as you have about 60 set dances to figure out in the exam. They play the song and you have to figure out which tune it is, whether it is a jig or hornpipe and the number of bars it is.
From other blogs ( I can’t remember the blogs to reference) but the bloggers and my teachers suggested making lyrics for the songs. And surprisingly enough it works! Now when a tune turns upon my iPod, I start singing the silly rhyme that I made for the song:
My silly rhymes:
The Four Masters: The four masters will go out today, they sing, they dance, the play all day. Their fiddlesticks and their drum kits allow them to be quick and rumbling…
Rambling rake: In the morning the old rambling rake always sounds like a cat (meow), a cat (meow), a cat (meow) it rambles in the morning sun…
Ace and Deuce: when the ace and deuce, the one and two, the uno the duo, the ichi and ni, the ace (pause), the deuce (pause) go pipering the whole day they fall in love…
They don’t have to make sense to work! But these are the only ones I’ve figure out so far. There are still many sets to make up songs to… I need help!!!
So January 19th… this is where I’m at! Not very far is it in the scheme of things… but there are still a few months left to study studiously!
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