Why are we here?
Generally, we want to do a good job teaching ballet and see results in the students! Benefits of Syllabus for a studio, and studio owner:
• You know what each student is being taught each year, as well as know what they had last year, and will have next year.
• You can sub or switch out teachers without disturbing the students education.
• With exams, both students and teachers are accountable.
• Achievable goal setting.
• Continual education for teachers as the examiner meets with them to discuss strengths and weaknesses.
How to implement a syllabus:
• Require a simple dress and hair code. It doesn’t have to be expensive if you stick to a black leotard. Require proper ballet shoes. Require hair in bun (or at lease off face). A good idea is to have printed reminder notes in class for teachers to send home with an offending student. All this sets the scene and the dancer takes her time in the class more seriously.
• The syllabus provides the outline and plan for you.
• Every class should be balanced – barre, center, allegro and diagonal work – see class plans.
• Teach how to with correct placement by slow and regular repetition for weeks, before attempting a combination. See class plans for details.
• A teacher needs to get the grade into her body – so only take on ‘new’ grades to teach in a given year, according to the time you have to learned it yourself (of course you can do this during the year yourself.) Often two or three grades would be ample to handle.
How to introduce syllabus to a non syllabus school:
• Prepare your parents and students. The truth is you are looking for ways to improve and provide a better service. After research, you are excited as you have decided to implement a syllabus, as you know this is a very successful way to teach (you can use all the reasons listed in these notes). Be confident and excited about your decision that you will be implementing a syllabus and the your goal that the students examine out of one level into another. This is a very fruitful, and encouraging system, while also providing accountability from both students and teachers. Again, make it very clear that this is the firm decision you have made. Most parents will be totally behind you. My experience is that studios that try to cater to both the serious and the ‘fun’ student, always have an ongoing battle. If you really want to see results and teach ballet, you want students who want to learn. If some leave, you will attract far more by the reputation you will develop from your developed good ballet standard, and the detailed attention you are giving to each student. There are many people out there who really want to learn!
• Work to provide the years schedule and costs in advance, including which Saturdays are extra pre-exam classes, approximate or definite exam date, performance date, etc. By this, parents will know in advance what the differences are and what they are committing to.
Each studio can be advised by SCB individually, but a reasonable guideline would be to hold the following on the first year:
• Beginners 3-4 years (test out at 5 yrs.)
• Pri Primary and Primary 5 – 6 + plus on your starting years also 7 & 8 years
• Grade 2 ( meets twice week) 9 – 13 years
• Grade 3 (meets twice a week) your teenagers and beginner teens/adults.
• Grade 4 only if you have definitely more advanced dancers, who need serious cleaning.
Using a syllabus gives the student something defined that they can work on, and, with the exams as a goal to aim for, in exactly the same way the academic syllabus is used to teach.
These are an exciting time for the student. If properly prepared, they are nervous, but so excited! It is a special day!
As new parents and students see how you treat their exam day, and how you treat them on their exam day, they start to take more pride in their work. The next year you will have a very committed student.
Notes on Pre exam classes
• We hold an extra class for each grade (except Beginners – they have only one practice class), for five Saturdays prior to exams. Parents are encouraged to sit in on these classes (without siblings), provided they are there to take notes and help with practice at home.
• Teachers need to continually be encouraging, while expecting disciplined work with correct placement and effort. It is best to see center work in groups of four, giving individual attention. If a student is not giving their best effort, then patiently have that particular student repeat with each group so “they can practice a little more” (usually they gets their attention and they focus and try more).
• Count down the weeks before the ‘special lady’ will come to watch them dance in their exam.
• Music can go home with the student so they can practice several times a week at home.
• We send homework for them to practice. Keep printed slips available in the studios for teachers to easily write homework for an individual.
• I would keep costs minimal for these classes, so you can get full attendance.
• Student, teacher and parents should focus on finishing off the details. By now they thoroughly know their syllabus. The teacher can now work on finalizing correct placement, head and eye carriage, fingers, posture, lightness, and spring during this time. With the added focus, we are able to help each student ‘dance’ their work.
• We count down the weeks.
• Tell the truth, with encouragement. If needed, to get their attention, tell them that a certain area is not yet ready for the exam – that it simply wouldn’t pass, BUT they will pass as they have time, and within a week or two with more practice it will happen for them. At this point is up to them – they won’t wake up one morning and be able to do it. They have to take possession of their work.
• Practice at least once with mirrors covered; however, you may like to try it earlier. It is a good way to see who doesn’t really know their work – and for them to see it. It is good to remind them that the mirrors will be covered in the exam!
• Communicate clearly regarding hair and dress for exams. We have a meeting with new parents once, while their child is in class to show them. On the day, as there will be some who didn’t understand, have a volunteer there to do the odd student’s hair. It is amazing the effect it has on casual parents to see you excitedly and lovely take the student, when she arrives, and do her hair in a classical bun (using gel and hairspray.) Also fuss over her shoe ribbons. It is also amazing to watch that child when they view themselves, completely groomed, and the effect that has on her dancing in the exam room.
• Encourage parents to bring a camera and rose for after the exam.
Notes on Exam day
• The director and teachers are dressed nicely as this is an important occasion.
• Teachers are not in the exam room with their students (except Beginners, Primary and Gr. 1).
• Mirrors are covered.
• CD’s are operated by an uninvolved person, perhaps a teenage student.
• Light snack food is out – small fruit tray, cheese and crackers – in the studio for examiner. As the examiner is treated with respect, once again this affects the student in a positive way.
• Plan for someone to bring in lunch for the examiner during their break.
• Students arrive one hour before exams. Someone is in charge of touching up hair, checking dress, and ribbons. Someone else will prepare them physically, emotionally and spiritually by doing some practice and warm up in another studio and pray for each group.
• Be there for them! This is a very real opportunity to show the love of Christ. They have been part of a class, given constant corrections and encouragements, now it is time to tell them how special they are. Love on them, pray with them. How you treat them and the exam day, in general, will directly affect their perfomance in the exams and the pride they put into their work the next year!
Age requirements to Register for the younger grade exams (to turn this age by Aug 15 of the exam year).
Beginners: 5 yrs, Pre Primary: 6 yrs., Primary: 7 yrs., Gr 1: 8 yrs., Gr 2: 9 yrs.
You may apply for exemption from age requirement for an extraordinary student. However, application needs to be made 4 weeks prior to exam date.