- New Beginner: This class is truly geared for the raw beginner, but you will be amazed at the progress can make in just one week. The class will cover how to hold the tipper and drum and how to accompany jigs and reels as well as an introduction to triplets and rolls. Prerequisites: No prior experience necessary.
- Advanced Beginner: We will use the hand at the back to add tonal changes and introduce more complex rhythms. Prerequisites: Not quite a raw beginner, but still working to master jigs and reels at faster tempos and to play with more control. Must know basic jig and reel rhythms.
- Intermediate: The intermediate class will cover a wide variety of rhythms and various time signatures. Prerequisites: For the student who already has good control of the basics and comfortable playing them up to tempo, but now ready for a challenge. Have been playing for 4-5 years and is comfortable playing various rhythms and musical forms.
- Advanced: In the advanced class we will be learning more advanced rhythms and arrangements at a much faster pace. Ideal for students wanting to improve their public performances. Prerequisites: Have been playing for 5+ years and have a strong knowledge of jigs and reels. Have accompanied tunes in the Cape Breton repertoire as well as other traditional musical genres.
- New Beginner: The very basics of fiddle will be taught at this level. Fundamentals include how to hold the fiddle, how to hold the bow, what the strings are on the fiddle, as well as your first notes will be covered. A basic tune with a simple melody will be taught in this class. Sheet music will be used and ear-training techniques will also be employed. Prerequisite: No prior experience necessary.
- Advanced Beginner: In this class students will learn two or more of the following: strathspey, march, jig, reel, air. Sheet music will be used and ear-training techniques will also be employed. Prerequisite: Able to play 2 -3 tunes at a slow to moderate pace.
- Intermediate: In this class, students will continue to develop their bowing techniques, they will build upon their existing repertoire of tunes (in at least 3 keys). A strong emphasis will be placed on timing. Sheet music will be used and ear-training techniques will also be employed. Prerequisite: Have a good knowledge of marches, strathspeys, reels, and jigs in the common major and minor keys. Be able to play tunes at a moderate pace.
- Advanced: At the advanced level of instruction, time will be spent looking at the very intricate components of this Gaelic style of fiddle playing. Grace notes, slurs, cuts, doublings and more of the detailed embellishments that define the style will be the focus of this class. Additionally, emphasis will be placed on developing timing. All types of tunes representative of this style, in many different keys, will be taught. Sheet music will be used and ear-training techniques will also be employed. Prerequisites: Have the ability to read music quite well. Be able to play all tunes at full tempo.
- New Beginner: An introduction to Nova Scotia Scottish Gaelic in an immersion environment, this course will introduce students to basic Gaelic vocabulary, handy phrases, and the Gàidhlig Aig Baile style of instruction. Prerequisite: No prior knowledge of Gaelic language is required.
- Intermediate: This course is aimed at students who have an established foundation in the Gaelic language. They are familiar with everyday vocabulary and basic phrases. Students in this level will build on vocabulary in an immersion setting. Gaelic will be the only language employed in the classroom. Prerequisite: Able to comfortably carry on simple conversation about day-to-day matters. Can speak in and respond to questions in the different tenses.
- Beginner: This level covers the basic aspects of picking technique and fingering, the primary chords of selected keys, and simple accompaniment techniques.
- Advanced Beginner/Intermediate: This level develops students resources for song and tune accompaniment. Secondary chords and modal progressions are introduced. Strumming and arpeggio (finger-picking) patterns are explored. Exercises and tunes for flat-picking are introduced.
- Advanced: Advanced accompaniment techniques, such as chord substitutions, are explored. More advanced concepts in ear-training and theory are introduced. Flat-picking instruction includes medleys of jigs, and march/strathspey/reel groups.
- New Beginner: This level provides an introduction to the instrument for those who have never played the harp before. This course covers everything a new beginner needs to start making music on the harp, including hand position, posture, and tone production. Prerequisite: No previous experience required.
- Advanced Beginner: This course is intended to build confidence for new players and those who don’t yet feel comfortable with their playing, help those who play with RH only to add a simple LH accompaniment to their melodies, encourage those who already play RH melody with simple LH accompaniment to add more in the LH part, all while learning a Cape Breton tune; introduce some “social harping” skills, that is how to play together with others; explore chords: what they are, how they are made, and how to play them when accompanying other instruments or in a traditional music session. Prerequisite: Knowledge of basic hand position, posture; playing with both hands on melody or RH with one or two note accompaniment in LH; starting to play with hands together; basic music-reading skills.
- Intermediate: This course is intended to encourage those who may have hit a plateau after their first energies and successes of learning have slowed a bit; introduce the main forms of traditional Cape Breton instrumental music: jig, strathspey, reel, march, slow air; teach jig and slow air tunes by ear; introduce “social harping” skills: the basics of accompanying other traditional instruments or playing along in a session, finding the key, possible rhythm patterns for different types of melody (jig, reel etc.) and playing with a group of harpers. Prerequisite: Comfortable playing with each hand alone and hands together; familiar with basics of chords (how to make and play them), playing feels more fluid than halting beginner. Developing proficiency and confidence reading music.
- Advanced: This course is for harpers interested in learning about traditional Cape Breton instrumental music and how to choose, adapt and interpret it on the harp. Prerequisite: Comfortable playing with both hands together; have tried playing a variety of different types of music, comfortable learning by ear and reading music.
- New Beginner: Prerequisite: No previous dancing experience necessary. A New Beginner student may have never highland danced before, or, this student may have been taking classes for a period of one year or less but has not yet perfected the Highland Fling or Sword Dance.
- Novice: Class time will be spent working on dances and developing the skills which are necessary to perfect them. Prerequisite: Student knows three dances (Fling, Sword, Sean Triubhas) and is currently working on at least two National Dances, Lilt, and Flora, as well as the Reel.
- Intermediate: Students will be primarily working on technique, timing, stamina, and presentation. Class time will be spent working on these dances and developing the skills which are necessary to perfect them. Prerequisite: Dancer is competing at the intermediate level, and has competed in all four Highland Dances, as well as National Dances, the Jig, and Hornpipe.
- Premier: This is the top level in Highland dance. Students will primarily work on technique, timing, stamina, and presentation in various dances. Prerequisite: Dancer has competed at the championship level.
- New Beginner: The very basics of the piano will be introduced in this class. Students will work on recognizing notes on the piano and learn how to build 3 chords. The basics of chording to any one or two of a march, strathspey, jig or reel will be introduced in this class. Prerequisite: No prior experience necessary.
- Advanced Beginner: Student will receive an introduction to basic playing techniques for Cape Breton-style piano accompaniment. Prerequisite: Has a working knowledge of basic chords in 3 major keys and 2 minor keys.
- Intermediate: Student will work on refining basic rhythms and further developing the fundamental playing techniques for Cape Breton piano accompaniment, including more syncopated rhythms. Prerequisite: Able to build upon the basic chord patterns and rhythms from the Advanced Beginner level.
- Advanced: Much time will be spent in this class listening to the various types of tunes which exist in the Gaelic style of music that is authentic and traditional to Cape Breton Island. It is the ear training that is required in identifying those chords that will allow the accompanist to chord along to another instrumentalist, all the while enhancing the delivery of music. Class time will be spent working on developing excellent timing as well. Prerequisite: Knowledge of most key signatures and associated chords. Previous experience in piano accompaniment required. Must be familiar with technique and specific chords. Accompaniment should be steady, strong and supportive, not domineering, with focus on timing.
- New Beginner: Learn to play the scale and basic grace notes with a focus on good finger posture and aiming for consistency. Learn one or more basic tunes. Prerequisites: No prior experience necessary.
- Advanced Beginner: Improve basic technical fundamentals while learning simple tunes. Learn early blowing and posture fundamentals. Prerequisites: Have learned fundamentals (doublings, triplets, grips, burls, etc.). Basic music-reading skill and ready to begin or already beginning on pipes.
- Intermediate: Improve your technical consistency and discover how to bring more musicality to your playing by learning a range of tunes suited to your needs. Gain a better, hands-on understanding of bagpipe maintenance. Prerequisites: On pipes for 1 or 2 years. One should be able to play several tunes by memory and also read pipe music.
- Advanced: Expand your tune repertoire and work on technique, according to your individual wants/needs and with a focus on the Gaelic/dance piping style. Develop your understanding of how this style relates intrinsically to Gaelic song and dance. Prerequisites: On pipes for 3 or more years. Play by memory. Strong ability to read music. Ability to play all tune forms (ie. jigs, strathspeys, marches, reels, airs).
Piping has strong connections with traditional Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton and is closely connected to the rhythms of the language. The repertoire of tunes is lively, and at times, challenging. Our instructors focus primarily on traditional tunes from Cape Breton and Scotland, however contemporary tunes may also be introduced. These tunes are taught with an emphasis on expression and musicality that stems from and intertwines with Gaelic language, song and dance traditions.
Recent history in North America and around the piping world has seen a major resurgence in bellows blown pipers, enthusiasts, as well as high end pipe makers. New beginner classes are for those who have not previously played bagpipes and may be done on practice chanter, depending on the students present. Advanced beginner student and above are required to bring their own small pipes. Several basic sets of smallpipes will be available for loan through the Gaelic College on a first-come, first-serve basis. Advanced beginner classes focus on the basics of playing bellows blown pipes (e.g., technique, pressure, consistency of sound), and basic tunes. Intermediate and Advanced instruction will be more varied, and topics will include learning more advanced tunes and sets of tunes, learning by ear, group and session playing, and tuning. Only offered during adult sessions.
- New Beginner: Students in the new beginner level for step-dancing will learn the first basic steps for a strathspey, jig and reel. They will also learn at least one figure to a traditional square set which has its origin in Gaelic settlement areas of Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia. Prerequisite: No prior experience necessary.
- Advanced Beginner: Advanced beginner step dance students will continue to develop their repertoire of strathspey and reel steps. The foundation for a routine will be laid out in this class. Particular attention will be made to teaching proper timing. Students will also learn at least 2 figures to a traditional square set which has its origin in Gaelic settlement areas of Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia. Prerequisite: Knowledge of 2 basic strathspey, jig and reel steps.
- Intermediate: The intermediate step dance student will spend time in class working on the first of several intricate rhythms. Emphasis will be spent on developing good timing and ensuring that beats are not missed. Further development of a routine will take place, and sets will also be danced as part of this intermediate level class. Prerequisite: Confidence in 5 – 10 strathspey & reel steps as well as 3 or 4 jig steps.
- Advanced: The advanced student will continue to learn additional steps. The Scotch Four traditional dance may be taught to the advanced level dance class. Teaching efforts will concentrate on developing excellent timing, expertise in dance and having fun. Prerequisites: Students in this level will have been step-dancing for 5+ years. They are extremely familiar with the timings and rhythms associated with all forms of Cape Breton music. Students will also be familiar with two of the more dominant square sets on the Island. Students have at least 10 strathspey and reel steps and can dance the jig comfortably.
Adult Session 1 and 2 Students will have a choice of looms (floor vs. table) and a choice of projects. Looms will be available pre-dressed for those choosing to learn various weave structures. Other projects might include a scarf, table runner, placemats, or a guitar strap. Students will have the opportunity to learn the technique of dressing a loom, reading a weaving draft and finishing techniques. Projects are chosen based on the amount of time spent in class. Materials are all provided.
- New Beginner: Prerequisite: There is no previous experience required.
- Advanced Beginner: Prerequisite: Must have done at least one week at New Beginner stage.
- Intermediate: Prerequisite: Must have completed beginner stage.