Core Training for Instructors (CTI)

The training of teachers has been an important feature of the work of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) since its inception in 1923.  The value of such training is recognised throughout the world and the ability of RSCDS teachers to pass on their skills to others is one of the main factors in ensuring the future, not only of the Society, but also of Scottish country dancing itself.

In addition to the Teaching Certificate training courses (Units 1 to 5) the RSCDS currently offers a Basic Teaching Skills course for those who are already leading/teaching, or about to take on a group, but who do not wish to sit the RSCDS teaching examinations. 

This CTI programme responds to an expressed need for training that is more rigorous than Basic Teaching Skills but less demanding than the Teaching Certificate in terms of time and money and does not assess personal footwork. 

Such a programme would meet the needs of individuals who are leading social groups and/or general classes. 


  • Discuss your interest in teaching with an experienced teacher
  • Submit application form to the RSCDS (you must be a member or join the RSCDS)
  • Select a Trainer from a list held at the RSCDS, and discuss your aims and objectives
  • After receiving confirmation of your Trainer from the RSCDS, discuss your aims and objectives with your Trainer.

Develop with a CTI trainer

  • Familiarise yourself with relevant RSCDS teaching materials
  • Develop your teaching skills with an existing or new group
  • Learn to understand dances and plan classes
  • Receive feedback on classes - using technology if Trainer is remote


  • Agree with Trainer when your aims and objectives have been achieved, within a two-year timespan
  • Receive final feedback from Trainer
  • Trainer submits the Trainer Confirmation Form to RSCDS along with the video and lesson plan for the final lesson
  • Trainee receives Statement of Proficiency as an Instructor of Scottish country dancing from the RSCDS 

Each Trainee under the programme will have a Trainer to guide them. 

The first steps for a prospective Instructor (Trainee) are to

1. Speak to an RSCDS qualified Teacher to discuss

(a) their interest in becoming an Instructor and

(b) any teaching experience they may have. 

2. Complete the CTI application form and submit to the RSCDS along with the appropriate fee

3. Select a Trainer from a list of approved Trainers. (The RSCDS will provide a list of Trainers in the Trainee’s part of the world.)

4. Discuss their required aims and objectives with the Trainer.

5. Under the guidance of the Trainer, work to become familiar with the relevant sections of the Manual as outlined in Appendix 1.

The programme assists Trainees in acquiring or developing the following skills.

Preparing for class:

  • Selecting dances for content and suitability for the class
  • Planning a lesson that flows well, repeating formations as appropriate (Lesson Plans)
  • Identifying formations or movements that may need special attention (Dance Analysis)
  • Incorporating warm up and cool down exercises appropriate to the class.
  • Making contingency plans in the event that last minute changes are needed
  • Selecting appropriate music or liaising with the musician
  • Preparing a series of progressive lessons

Delivering the lessons:

  • Making the class fun through a pleasant personal manner
  • Encouraging sociability and teamwork, eye contact etc.
  • Fostering appreciation of the music and developing rhythm
  • Keeping the dancers moving
  • Using standard terminology for steps and formations
  • Demonstrating steps, formations, handing and phrasing. The Trainee is required to personally demonstrate these elements including the correct rhythm of the steps, but may supplement their teaching by use of another dancer, video recordings or visual aids.
  • Pre-teaching formations new to the group
  • Using voice effectively to give clear explanations
  • Coaching over the music (such as “away from the centre, quarter turn” for Poussette)
  • Recapping the dance clearly and concisely within the lesson
  • Identifying and addressing areas for improvement for the class
  • Analysing and resolving problems in formations, handing, phrasing as appropriate to the class
  • Giving encouragement and appropriate praise
  • Managing class numbers and behaviour
  • Showing awareness of Instructor position within the class


  • Reflecting on the outcome of each lesson and evaluating what went well and what needs improvement
  • Devising ways to improve instructional methods

Trainers play a main role in helping the Trainee to develop their core skills. The Trainers will be experienced teachers who have taken the course for Trainers.

Where the Trainer and Trainee are not nearby, the Trainee would send recordings of lessons to their Trainer.  See Appendix 3

The Trainers should:

  • Aim to be a model for a fun, sociable and inclusive approach to Scottish country dancing
  • Work with the Trainee before they start to lead a group, or to give direction in delivering a lesson to an existing class
  • Interact regularly with the Trainee to ensure that:

(a) they have the opportunity to develop all the core skills and

(b) they take on progressively more complex tasks 

  • Provide guidance on planning lessons that are well paced and help dancers to progressively increase their knowledge
  • Provide guidance on analysing dances in order to devise effective ways of teaching them, and prepare dancers for any unfamiliar or tricky aspects of a dance
  • Promote self-evaluation and give encouraging but realistic feedback on the Trainee’s instructing
  • Review the Trainee’s instructing to ensure that they have given appropriate attention to preparing lessons and the dances 
  • Verify that the Trainee is familiar with the many resources for studying dances, including the various RSCDS Teaching aids

Once the Trainer has discussed the aims and objectives with the Trainee, the Trainee will prepare lessons appropriate to the class.  The Trainer will use the Trainer Feedback Form to aid the planning and delivery of the lessons, seen either in person or using video recordings.  Feedback using this form should be given several times during the training.

The Trainer must be satisfied that the Trainee is well acquainted with the relevant RSCDS teaching resources including and is competent at planning and delivering lessons.

The Trainer will decide when they feel the Trainee has reached a stage when their aims and objectives have been met. This must be within two years from the beginning of the training. A selection of jigs, reels and strathspeys should be chosen during the training course.

A final class should show a minimum of 12 to 16 dancers (Note) being taught a minimum of two dances - a reel or jig and a strathspey. The lesson should take between 40 and 50 minutes and be designed to enable the Trainee to exhibit competence in the core skills. Dances should be chosen from the list in Appendix 2. The video recording of this lesson should not include warm-up or cool-down material.

If satisfied with the final class, the Trainer will send a Trainer Confirmation Form along with the final Trainer Feedback Form, the Trainee’s lesson plan and the video of the final class to the RSCDS.  The Trainee will receive a letter acknowledging completion of course and statement of proficiency as an Instructor of Scottish country dancing.  For quality control purposes, the documentation will be reviewed by the RSCDS (E&T) on a random basis.

Note - Where the Trainee’s class has fewer than 12 dancers please contact the Convenor of E&T, email before proceeding with training.

While there is no requirement to take Unit 1 (study of the RSCDS Manual) as part of the training, Trainees may find it helpful. They may do so at any time, before, during or after the training.  Trainees who have gained some experience as group/class leaders may wish to consider further development of their teaching ability by applying for the Unit-based teacher training to become a fully qualified RSCDS teacher. 

Trainees who feel, after two years of training have elapsed, that their skills still need some development may make a new application under the CTI programme.

Resources, advice & guidelines

As indicated in Section C point 5, CTI Trainees are expected to familiarise themselves with certain sections of the Manual, as listed below.

Chapter 4 – Use of music in teaching dance

4.1       Choice of music for dancing
4.2       Working with a musician
4.3.      Working with recorded music
4.5       Music for step practice
4.7.2    Rhythm (paras 1-3)

4.7.3    Phrasing and expression

4.7.4    Tempo or speed (paras 1-3)

Chapter 5 - Steps   

5.1       Travelling steps
5.2       Setting steps
5.3       Foot positions
5.4.1    Skip change of step

5.4.2    Pas de basque

5.4.3    Slip step
5.5       Strathspey steps

5.5.1    Strathspey travelling step

5.5.2     Strathspey setting step

Chapter 6 – Hands and Handing; Formations *

All text on Hands and Handing.

Formations: This extensive list should be referred to when teaching any specific formations.

Chapter 7 – Notes for Dances *

The notes given in this chapter are intended to clarify the instructions of some dances published in RSCDS books.

Chapter 8 - Essential skills and further advice

8.1       General advice to teachers
8.2       Suggestions for devising a dance programme ~ if appropriate
8.3       The role of the MC ~ if appropriate

*Note: Further information may be available for

formations at 

dances at

During training, a Trainee may use any dances suitable for the class. Preferably dances published by the RSCDS should be used. If it is appropriate to use a non RSCDS dance, eg. a local composition, the Trainee should provide the trainer with a copy of the instructions, the original instructions if possible.

For the final recording of the course, dances in any of the books of dances published by the RSCDS may be used, with the exception of the dances in the following books:

The Border Book
Dances to Song Tunes
Imperial Book 1-3
Imperial Book 4-6
Kandahar Reel
MacNab books
Perth 800

Dances published by Branches, Affiliated Groups, or which appear in A Guide to Scottish Country Dancing (formerly named Collins Pocket Reference), are excluded, unless they are published elsewhere by the RSCDS.

During the CTI Course, it will be helpful to use video recordings, especially if Trainer and Trainee do not live near each other. A final lesson will be recorded to support the Trainer’s decision that the Trainee has achieved the required level of proficiency and that the course has been completed. When using video, certain principles and practices should be considered.

Ideally, someone other than the Trainee should be responsible for the recording, to allow the Trainee to concentrate on the class.

A - Using video technology as part of the training process

  1. The Trainee should explain to the class or group that the videos are being made for the sole purpose of assisting in his/her training, and will not be seen by anyone other than the Trainee and his/her Trainer.
  2. For the purposes of the Trainer’s continuing development, the video of the final lesson, which is submitted to the RSCDS, may also be reviewed by a Moderator. Once the moderation of the Trainer is complete, the video will be destroyed.
  3. The Trainee must ensure that the members of the class agree to being videoed.
  4. The device used for recording should have a picture resolution of 1920x1080 pixels; note that iPhone 7 meets these specifications. 
  5. When using a video camera, it should be set to manual focusing to avoid it trying to refocus on something else.
  6. Place the camera away from the music (assuming that a separate microphone is not being used).
  7. Place the camera in a fixed position, at eye level or above.
  8. Check that the camera picks up the sound of the Trainee’s voice.
  9. Ensure that the camera captures both the Trainee and all of the class at the same time.
  10. Try to ensure that the venue is sufficiently well lit to see the Trainee and the dancers clearly without having glare bounce off the participants or the floor. The venue should have blinds or curtains to eliminate patterns of sunlight, if necessary; the background should not be distracting.
  11. Consider starting by videoing elements of a lesson and submitting them to the Trainer rather than trying to record a complete lesson; this will give an indication of how much memory is required on the device when recording a full lesson.
  12. Ensure that recording is taking place before the Trainee starts teaching.

B – Sharing video-recordings with the Trainer

  1. There are several file-sharing platforms. If possible, choose one with which both Trainee and Trainer are familiar. Examples: Google Drive, Dropbox, WeTransfer …
  2. Be aware that uploading videos can take some time.

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