Forum: Irish / Irish - Beginners

How my class went....
By just_jazzin
On Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:05 PM

I got there all excited aqnd ready to learn. I told everyone my name and no one told me there's. Everyone was more advanced then I, and - had the teacher to myself for a total of 10 minutes. She was to busy doing other things then teaching me or the other group. She taught me 3's and that was it! I spent an hour doing them and wondering where the teacher went to. I enjoyed watching the advanced group. I am dissatisfied with the teacher!

17 Replies to How my class went....

re: How my class went....
By treblejiggernaut
On Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:45 PM
Edited by treblejiggernaut (188902) on 2010-01-19 22:48:26 Needed to put a space in between paragraphs so it is easier to read
Generally in the adult classes there are different levels of adult dancers, so it is hard to teach everyone all at once. The teachers have to work with the other students and figure that a beginner dancer on her first day is not going to be able to handle more than jump 23's. I think your experience is common for the first class. Soon you will be learning more steps and dances. Generally you aren't taught much the first day of class. It is good for you to watch because then you can get a sense for the music and the types of steps that are involved. Hopefully they will soon see that you pick things up quickly and that you need to be taught more than one thing at a time. About the adults not saying their names to you, that is too bad. Generally at our school when there is a new student the teacher introduces the new student and has all the dancers say their names to introduce them to the new dancer. Too bad that it was not done in your case.

You said you were looking at more than one school. Did you check out any other school yet? Don't give up on a school after just one class. Maybe they are teaching you based on their experiences with other new adult dancers. They will realize quickly that you maybe can go at a faster pace than most adults that are new to Irish dance. It is hard to teach a class where there are several levels, so hang in there. If you are still unsure, see if you can get a trial 1-2 month period before you actually commit to a specific school for a long period of time.

Good luck and don't give up. When you find the right school for you it will be a wonderful experience once you start learning all the new steps and dances. As you get more into it and more advanced it will become more of a challenge and when you actually learn to do a step right or learn a new dance to the music it is the most wonderful and satisfying feeling. Good luck!
re: How my class went....
By treblejiggernaut
On Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:17 PM
I was just thinking about my first class in 2004. They taught me jump 23's and then when they saw I got it they started teaching me the beginner reel. The dance made no sense to me and I had to relearn the next week what they taught me the first day for the reel. It all seemed the same and I could not see the patterns in the different steps they taught me. After taking class a couple of weeks it started making sense to me. I think it also took time to get used to the music and the types of steps used. Even though they tried to teach me more the first day, it did no good since I was totally lost as soon as they started teaching me a dance. Maybe you would have been different, but it is usually the case for beginner adult dancers.

Hang in there. Before you know it you will be addicted and practicing really hard so that you can show your teacher you are ready for hard shoe.
re: How my class went....
By happydancer2
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:20 AM
This sounds like my own class about 4 years ago.
I´d never done or even seen Irish Dancing before, not even Riverdance or Lord of the Dance and I wanted to have a look.
I learned my 1,2,3´s and 7s and was really confused. Of course I was the least advanced person in the class, the others had already been dancing for 6 months, and I don´t think I even had the teacher to myself for 10 minutes. This didn´t bother me too much, because I was really busy sorting out my feet, LOL.
It took me a few months to catch up with the group and one year to overtake them and move up to a different, more advanced class.

I think it´s normal to have a mixed group of dancers of all levels in an adult class, there often simply aren´t enough adults.
I wouldn´t judge the teacher on what you experienced in your first class. You can´t expect a teacher to abandon the regular dancers and focus entirely on a new dancer who is only doing a trial class and maybe won´t come back. Under these conditions 10 minutes sound really good. Did she give that much one on one time to each of her dancers?
Go back next week and show her that you are serious about it.

This could change the attitude of your fellow dancers aswell.
One thing I noticed in ID is, that a new dancer in a more advanced group is always eyed suspiciously by the other dancers, because this means that they have to share the attention of the teacher. And they have more material they need to work.
Give them another chance, if they see that you are serious about dancing, they´ll warm up.
re: How my class went....
By rincedragonflymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:28 AM
From a teachers' perspective...

It's really hard when you have a multi-level class. Like, really freakin' hard. I have a class on Saturday mornings that's like that...there's 10 kids in the class. 2 of them have been doing this for at least four or five years. 3 of them, for about three years. 2 of them started this past September, and the other 3 started two weeks ago. Yes, all of these kids in the same class, age ranging from 6 years old to 15. Crazy hour. I feel like a horrible teacher sometimes because I can't give every kid the attention they need. I split them up into groups and have them work on steps or skills, and I rotate throughout the groups and try to help them as best as I can. I still leave that class lacking a feeling of accomplishment because I feel like I didn't give each kid my best. I can't clone myself as much as I wish I could.

I can understand why you would feel dissatisfied, because yeah! You learned one thing, and didn't get to work with the teacher that much! But I also can see from some hints in your post that the teacher was probably doing the best they could in a mixed-level class. I admit, in my mixed levels, sometimes one group gets much more attention than the others. I always feel bad about it, and make it up to the other group the next week.

Give it another class...see if it gets any different. Sounds like you are the only new beginner in there, and it may take some time to fit you in to the new class.

Also, keep your options open as to other schools in the area!
re: How my class went....
By Jokr
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 09:01 AM
This is the same as my first class was as well. I also started as an adult. When I got there there was already a group of ladies who have been dancing together for a couple years, and had danced at Nationals just a few months prior. So, it was really intimidating going into a class where almost everyone else is so much more experienced.

Luckily it turned out that I wasn't the only beginner, so it was nice that I wasn't the only one struggling along and tripping over my own feet :)

Ours was the same set up as well - we had a warm up, then our teacher spent about 10 minutes with us going over 1,2,3's, then she went and had the advanced students go through their reel a few times, and worked with them for a while. After that, she came back to check on us, and showed us how to do 7's. Then she went and worked with the other students again, and so on and so on....

I felt a little unsure after the first class, because I felt so lost, but I still enjoyed it. So, I kept going back.

After the first 2 classes, we knew enough basic steps that we could start learning our reel along with the other dancers.

Our classes still run that way now - we're all divided into different levels, and we each run through our dances, and while 1 group is going, the others are either taking a water break or practising.

Don't let the first class put you off, give it a try for a few weeks.

Good luck!! :)
re: How my class went....
By RinceorNosretep
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 09:28 AM
Ha my first class was very similar as well. I started when I was 19, and everyone else in the class was at least 35-40 lol! I was also the only new one in the class, as all the others had been with that teacher for years (mind, this was at a non-certified studio that mostly taught other types of dance, i.e. ballet, tap and jazz). The teacher showed me the basics after we warmed up, the whole class doing them, then we launched right into a dance they'd been working on. I ended up sitting out most of the class, as halfway through they switched to hardshoe. But I watched in awe as they danced, and it renewed my already strong determination to learn such a beautiful and inspiring form of dance.
So I would try it again, and again, and again! Then, after that if you're still dissatisfied with the teacher/class, you may start to consider trying other places. But only then!
-Rinceor Nosretep
re: How my class went....
By Deirdre_I_S_E
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 09:44 AM
My girlfriend and I started five years ago at 18 years old. We were in a "kids" class that had mixed levels, beginner through prizewinner. After we did a little warm up we spent the whole hour going over "overs" and 3's. Literally "pick your foot up and jump on to it then bend 2,3". We practiced that for a little bit and then we watched the other girls run through their steps and I remember thinking "well,this is awesome but this isn't like Riverdance. I thought I was going to learn Riverdance". Oh how silly I was.

Moral of my really long story, as others have already confirmed, is that you had a pretty normal first class. Stick with it though, its totally worth it.
re: How my class went....
By cmdc
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 09:44 AM
I hate to say that is how a lot of "first classes" go. And I really don't like to hear that about ID. ID is weird, you have to understand for whatever reason its TOTALLY different compared to how a ballet, jazz, tap, etc, class is structured. Most studios have the capability to start splitting up everyone due to level, and by age. Adults are always hard no matter what style because they are far and few between, forcing a teacher or owner to combine all levels into one group because they can't afford 2 or 3 separate classes each having only 1 or 2 or 3 students in them.

However, I do feel like your teacher should have come back to you periodically in class. My new semester started 2 weeks ago (last night was the second class) and I have 4 new adults and 3 adults who've been dancing for about 9 months. Obviously really different levels. So in that case, I start everyone off with the same warm up, "advanced" ladies do slightly different things, but overall the same. Then I have the advanced ladies go off on the other side of the room to review and work on the latest step. I then go to my newbies and teach them a new move, let's say 7's. I work with them 5 - 10 minutes, then switch to my other group, work 5 - 10 minutes and keep switching. By the last 10 - 15 minutes of the past two classes, I've brought everyone together to do a super easy 4 hand figure dance. The advanced ladies dance it full out while the newbies do what they can in terms of dancing (such as double skips forward and backwards, 7s) or walk. But this brings everyone together. I also make it a point to have everyone say their name so everyone can get to know each other and make friends in class.

It is SUPER HARD as a teacher to have mixed levels in class. It's awful, and I really wish I could have a separate class for each and every level. However, all of my students are beginners, some may have started last week, some may have started in June.

And if I have a class that's been going for a while, and then I allow a new student to sign up, it makes it really hard for me as the teacher to stop, start from scratch with newbie, and then continue on with everyone else. That's why I only take students in September, and in January to minimize that "interruption".

Stick with it a couple more times. Sorry to hear you weren't totally satisfied with the teacher. The best thing you can do for yourself is to go home and learn those 3's and have them solid by next class. That way she/he can teach you the next move. I always tell all of my adult newbies to give it 4 - 5 classes before you really start moving along and actually feel like you're "dancing".

Keep us updated, I really enjoy hearing the experiences of new students, especially adults!!
re: How my class went....
By treblejiggernaut
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:42 PM
You also have to remember that Irish dance classes are different than ballet and jazz classes. In ballet everyone does the same barre work and center work and the teacher can watch everyone at the barre at the same time and go to each student to correct certain things. In a jazz class you do a warm up as a class and then learn a new routine each week, so everyone is doing the same things. In those classes you are grouped by levels of experience and as you progress you know the basic exercises and steps.

In Irish dance you have to be taught the steps, a few at a time and then taught the dances that everyone else knows. The advanced, intermediate and beginner students will know different variations of the same type of dance like the reel and slip jig. There are 4 soft shoe dances and 3 hard shoe dances you need to learn as a beginner. You can't learn them all at once, you learn them in small chuncks after you have learned the basic steps.

If you are the only new student then everyone in your class will already know those dances for their level. It will take a while for you to catch up. Don't give up, but because there are generally several levels for each dance and sometimes several levels of dancers in each class then the divide and conquer method is the only one that works in ID. Even the most experienced dancers don't get the teacher to themselves most of the time. Usually you work on your own or in groups to learn new stuff or practice old steps. That is normal in Irish dance.

Irish dance classes are very different from other types of dance classes. If you compare it to those type of classes you will be dissapointed because they are not generally run the same. Don't give up and keep at it. It will take a while before you know all the dances and that you can dance all of them in class.

Also, as you learn and become more advanced you will likely be asked to help a beginner learn new steps or dances. That is normal. Keep at it and don't get discouraged.
re: How my class went....
By AinetheDragonPremium member
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 03:25 PM
I would give it a couple more classes before you get so disappointed.

Its hard starting new students at different times. Thats why alot of ballet, or jazz classes will start people all at once at the beginning of a semester. So, you have a whole class of newbies all leaning the same thing at the same time.

ID, being kinda specialized, doesnt often work out that way. You have a brand new student joining a class of experienced students, one or two new dancers at a time. This is really hard for the teacher to juggle experienced dancers who need to be rehearsed through several pieces they are all prepping individually for competitions, with a brand new dancer who hasnt learned those pieces yet.

The first week, learning 3's is a pretty standard lesson. It would be nice if you had learned 7's and a reel step too... but if it was a particularly hectic and diverse class, I can see where the teacher would not have time. I've had classes like that. Maybe in the near future, there will be a day where fewer of the other students are attending, and you will get some more attention. (this happens at my school... one week you have 20 kids in a class, and the next week half of them have homework, and the other half are on their way to a competition, and theres 3 kids in class).

What usually happens is this: you will learn 3's and 7's and a basic dance that is made up of some combination of them. Then you will participate with the rest of the class when they do the reel (probably dancing 2-3 at a time taking turns). While the rest of the class does their other dances in a similar fashion, you will get a few minutes of teacher 1 on 1 to learn another simple dance. Once you know that one, you will participate with the rest of the class for 2 dances, and start on a 3rd. After a while, you will know something like 6-7 simple dances, and you will be dancing along with the rest of the class all the time. The hard part is this initial step of learning the choreography.
Also, be sure to watch the rest of the class when they dance, as you will probably see others doing your steps, and you can then learn how to do them better. Next time you go, whatever you are taught, watch for 3's in the dances your classmates are working on.

Maybe you could ask the teacher for a private lesson or two, so you learn a few dances and can participate with the rest of the class.

Also, dont discount the importance of practicing those 3's. They are like the ID equivalent of a plie. A few seconds to learn, a lifetime to perfect, and the basic building blocks of everything else you will learn in time.
re: How my class went....
By PNWIrishdancer
On Wed Jan 20, 2010 06:18 PM
So sorry you had a rough experience at your new class. I'm not sure of your situation but it may be helpful to take a first class from a couple of different schools to get a feel for what is the same and different at the irish dance schools in your area. Picking an ID school is a commitment in that it is not easily changed once you are registered.

I agree with other posters to give the teacher another chance it could be just a matter of acclamation. It could also just be this school isn't a good fit for you and another one would be a better match. Better to look at all of your options first before registering. Best of luck!! Welcome, welcome to Irish dance, I'm sure you'll find a fit and go far!!
re: How my class went....
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Jan 21, 2010 05:18 PM
wow- reading some of the replies makes me realize just how blessed I was to find my school.

Yes, many schools teach mixed levels, and as the teacher rotates through the levels, there will be times when you get more attention than others.

However, that's not the only way to do things. At my school, we are taught steps in levels. You work with your own level with your own teacher or assistant. We only mix duing form and stretching portions of class. So my first class, I learned how to do skip threes, forward, backword and in a circle, but the teacher worked with me and the other student who started that month for the full half hour of our class. It meant that it made sense, and the next week we could move on to 7s.

Give the class another try, see how it feels next time, and if it still feels not good, look around at other schools to see if there is a better fit for you.
re: How my class went....
By just_jazzin
On Fri Jan 22, 2010 05:16 PM
yes, I was the only beginner there!What really bothered me is my teacher kept leaving the class room (three times) and she was busy chatting!
re: How my class went....
By seacaptain
On Fri Jan 22, 2010 08:45 PM
Irish dance classes are often (not always) much less formal than other forms of dance. It might take getting used to but in the end you might like it. Stick it out for a little bit and see how you feel in a month or so.
re: How my class went....
By treblejiggernaut
On Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:46 PM
Not to criticize Irish dance teachers or anything, but I think SOME not all Irish dance teachers are a little more casual with their adult classes or their beginner classes than with their more advanced champ. classes, so leaving a couple of times or chatting seems okay to them. Again, I say some, not all, especially in dealing with adult classes. Just what I've observed from my experiences which is only 2 schools.
re: How my class went....
By dancinghabebi
On Sun Jan 24, 2010 01:12 PM
Hello, just throwing my two cents in here. I went to my first ID class last week as well. I too was the only beginner in this multi level/age class so I was a bit intimidated at first. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the help I recieved from the students of every age category! The other adults showed me over 3's and 7's, the young girls gave me some tips, and the teens asked how I was enjoying it and very open sharing their experiences. The teacher of course helped me out by teaching me 3's [beginning of class] coaching me through that, but, while she was focused on other students during different times of the two hour class I got help from the other students.

I know the dynamic will change as I learn more and my stamina builds (I won't even begin on how quickly I wore out!). I hope your next classes will change too. I think everyone's advice about giving it a bit of time and see how things go is good. Irish dancing seems well worth the effort- it's so much fun and quite a challenge and I've only had one class so far!
re: How my class went....
By idmom1992
On Wed Jan 27, 2010 08:00 AM
I would give it a few weeks - just like anything new, it's normal to feel behind the 8-ball for a while. I joined an ID adult class and felt stupid and uncoordinated for a good month - then finally things clicked & I loved it after that.


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