Profiles of our Teachers and Musicians
Dance is a lifelong passion for Jamie. At university, where Jamie majored in dance education, she got the opportunity to travel for a semester and study forms of traditional dance in Scotland. During her first Scottish country dance class, Jamie fell in love with the music and community.
After college Jamie decided to concentrate on folk dance, and has since taught or performed RSCDS, Highland, Cape Breton Step Dance, International Folk Dance, and other percussive dances around America, Europe, Russia, and Australia.
Movement in general is also an interest for Jamie and, when she is not dancing, she teaches gymnastics and acro yoga. Jamie is often seen dancing with her young son to her husband, James’ music.
Jamie believes everyone can dance and wants everyone to experience the joy that dancing can bring. Dance starts with your heart. If your heart feels the dance, you are a dancer.
Mervyn Short lives in Rustington, West Sussex on the south coast of England with his partner John. He is a member of Berks/Hants/Surrey Border Branch of the RSCDS His interests include music, theatre, travel, walking and of course Scottish Country Dancing.
Mervyn started Scottish Country Dancing over forty years ago and qualified as a teacher three years later with the Imperial Society Teachers of Dancing. Mervyn also started Highland dancing around the same time and – after passing medal tests – qualified to teach. He then regularly taught children and adults at all levels.
In 1995 Mervyn gained his RSCDS Full Certificate. Since then he has taught at day and weekend schools all over the UK, Europe, America, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Africa. He also regularly teaches at Summer and Winter Schools. In January 2016 Mervyn retired to devote more time to dancing. He is an assessor for children’s medal tests and tutors, and examines candidates for the Society’s teaching examinations.
Mervyn is very keen to maintain the technique and traditions of Scottish country dancing but appreciates that it is an evolving dance form. In 2009 he published a book of dances with an accompanying CD. Since then he has had four other dances published by RSCDS. Mervyn is currently vice-chairman of Berks/Hants/Surrey Border Branch and has served twice on the RSCDS Education and Training Committee.
Christine Freeman started Scottish Country Dancing in 1993 after a friend mentioned that Christine would enjoy it as a social activity. Little did Christine know what she had let herself in for!
Since gaining her Teacher’s Certificate, Christine has taught Branch classes at all levels and particularly enjoys teaching beginners’ classes and seeing dancers progress. Christine has taught at Folk Festivals, Weekend Schools in Australia and New Zealand and the Australian Winter School in Brisbane, 2015. She has served on the Melbourne Branch committee since 2005 in a number of roles and is currently the Honorary Treasurer. This year, Christine took on the role of tutor – together with two other Melbourne teachers – for the RSCDS Units 2 and 3 examinations in Melbourne.
Christine regularly attends Australian Winter Schools and New Zealand Summer Schools and has attended Summer School at St Andrews and TAC Summer Schools. She convened the Australian Winter School in 2012 and Christine has taken that task on again for the Winter School in Melbourne, 2019. Christine has danced in Branch demonstration teams at concerts, tattoos and other festivals.
Away from Scottish Country Dancing, Christine enjoys travelling with friends. She is a member of the local Probus Club having served as President, and enjoys the company of family, especially her two grandchildren.
Dancing to all kinds of music has been a passion and an integral part of Gail Scofield’s life from her early years. Gail has enjoyed Ballet, Ballroom, Latin and of course, Scottish Country Dancing to which she was introduced by her Mother. Scottish Country Dancing finally won, as it fitted into early family life and allowed Gail to continue dancing in various locations. Gail was taught by brilliant teachers, whose focus was not only on personal skills but also on technical expertise – something for which she is forever thankful.
Gail gained her Full Teaching Certificate in 1989 and has continued teaching clubs in Auckland. Gail has taught at Region Classes, Weekend School Classes, Summer School in Wellington and Winter School in Australia. Examining Jam Medal Tests enables her to encourage young dancers and to also admire the standard achieved by their dancing teachers.
Gail Schofield served as Education & Training Co-ordinator on the NZ Branch and she organized Unit Zero (Basic Teaching Skills) courses in Napier, Waikato and North Auckland during her three-year term. This provided an enjoyable learning experience and introduction into Teacher Training programmes run by the NZ Branch.
Musicians add another dimension to Gail’s teaching for which she is very grateful to local musicians; providing great fun to work with as a team while adding depth to musical knowledge.
When not dancing, Gail enjoys movies, reading and socializing with family and friends.
Nicole Trewavas began dancing at the age of 11 in Waikanae, with dance teacher Glenys Mills. Both Nicole’s parents danced, and when Nicole and her sisters were old enough,they were allowed to dance in the adult class as well (no JAM class then!). A few years later Nicole and her family moved to Palmerston North. Nicole continued dancing at the Manawatu club, as well as attending Glendarroch in Wanganui on a regular basis.
As a junior member, Nicole was lucky enough to be able to sit and achieve all the JAM medal tests. This then led to Nicole working towards her RSCDS Teaching Certificate, which she achieved at the Cambridge Summer School 2013/2014.Nicole is currently the tutor for the Manawatu Scottish Country Dance Club in Palmerston North, and in 2016 she began teaching a new children’s class.
Nicole has attended many Summer Schools, day schools and weekend schools around New Zealand as a dancer, and more recently has also had the privilege of teaching at some of them as well.When not teaching dancing,Nicole teaches pre-schoolers at a childcare centre in Palmerston North. And when not working or dancing, Nicole enjoys practicing her new hobby – learning to play the bagpipes!
Mary Thomas of the Balmoral Club in the Bay of Plenty began dancing as a Beginner in Birmingham in 1994. The class was so good that Mary stayed on as a beginner until moving to New Zealand in 1998. Mary danced at both the Hamilton Scottish and Lochiel clubs in Hamilton, and then at the Balmoral club on moving to Whakatane in the late 1999.
Mary attended Weekend and Summer Schools around New Zealand and Australia, and the 2010 St Andrews Summer School in Scotland.
She completed her RSCDS teacher training with Mervyn Short in 2011 in Britain, and has since taught at a number of New Zealand SCD schools.
Mary is a secondary school chemistry teacher, and when not teaching, she enjoys reading, gardening, sewing (quilts) and walking. She very much looks forward to teaching the Advanced Class at the 2019-20 NZ Branch Summer School in Cambridge.
Helen has been dancing since a child when attending with her Grandmother at the Cambridge SCD Club in New Zealand. Helen gained her full certificate in 2015 and currently teaches in two clubs in the Waikato region – Cambridge, and Lochiel in Hamilton. Away from dancing Helen teaches Mathematics at the local High School. Helen is excited to be given the opportunity to help a new generation of dances feel the spirit and the joy of Scottish Country Dancing.
Debbie started Scottish Country Dancing in Christchurch in 1975, dancing 3 or more times a week, and benefiting from the instruction of many excellent teachers – it would be fair to say that she caught the dancing bug! In 1984 Debbie relocated to Whanganui, married Paul, and two years later began SCD teacher training completing the RSCDS Full Certificate in 1989.
Debbie currently teaches in Whanganui taking 2 adult classes and 1 children’s class each week. She is active in encouraging new teachers and enjoys tutoring and mentoring candidates for their RSCDS teaching examinations.
Debbie has taught at numerous summer schools, and weekend schools in New Zealand and Australia, and twice taught at the annual RSCDS Summer School at St. Andrews.
Debbie is passionate about sharing her love of dancing and aims to teach in a way that makes dancing accessible and fun for people of all ages whilst encouraging everyone to dance to the best of their abilities.
When she’s not teaching dancing, Debbie is a librarian specialising in services for children and young people. It should be no surprise that Debbie is keen reader with pretty eclectic tastes – anything from picture books to historical and dystopian fiction.
Ian Muir, of Prestwick Scotland, has been involved in playing for Scottish dancing in all its forms for the past 40 years. Scottish Country Dancing, Ceilidh and Old Time dancing have been the mainstay of his long career in music. As well as playing for dancing, Ian has performed solo in Scottish Variety theatres throughout the country and has toured extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Ian Muir formed his own Scottish Dance band in 1984. He has been a regular contributor on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Take the Floor’ programme as a bandleader, and – for two seasons – as the programme’s presenter. Ian’s recent studio recordings include RSCDS Book 51, and a commission by Bill Little for part of his Carlingwark Collection.
Since 2012 Ian has been involved in three TAC Summer School events; in Portland Oregon, Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke Quebec, and at UBC in Vancouver. Ian played at the Vancouver Branch’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the Asilomar Weekend School, and the Edmonton Weekend School.
Ian combines playing duties with his role as principal accordion tutor in the Scottish Music Department at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a post Ian has now held for 22 years.
Born into a family actively involved in the local Scottish Country Dance scene, James grew up surrounded by a love of Scottish music and culture. His first piano lessons were with his grandmother, who played for his parents’ dance classes, and James later took up the accordion. He danced from birth (he had no choice!) and was director of the first RSCDS spring fling.
James has released CDs with Susie Petrov, Laura Risk, Andrew Lyon and his band Scottish Measure, Gregor Borland, and Keith Smith. His solo album Piano Dance features the “hit singles” for the dances Sands of Morar and Iona Cross. The CD Opus Dance features his compositions and provides music for his father’s book of dances Tweeddale Collection Volume 4.
James aspires to provide music that is great for both the ears and the feet.
Playing piano for Scottish Country Dance classes is the culmination of the whole of Sharlene’s 60-plus years of involvement with music and dance. She has been dancing and playing for Scottish Country Dancing for over 18 years, and – with her love of playing SCD music – Sharlene says she is always torn as she loves dancing just as much as playing! Sharlene dances at two clubs in Auckland, and plays for the Beginners class at Waitemata club.
She is part of the worldwide preservation and development of the music and dancing of Scottish Country Dance. Sharlene’s love of the Scottish style takes her around the world each year – both dancing and playing – and recently she played in New York and Connecticut, and danced in Lyon, where she also led a music workshop. Sharlene plays in several bands – including the Balmoral Band, Wild Heather, Glenfiddle, Flying Kiwis, Kiwi Kilties, and Strings Attached – for Scottish Dancing balls, and Day, Weekend, Summer and Winter Schools.
Sharlene’s day-job is now as a semi-retired registered music teacher. She has two sons who are both musicians; one professional and one part-time. Both are married to beautiful musician women, and she has one grandchild, Isabella, who recently turned five in New York.
I am very much looking forward to playing for classes at Summer School this year.
With an empty nest in 2007 and a goal to play piano again with other musicians rather than alone as previously, I attended a local music session where Anne-Marie Forsyth quickly had me sold on attending a week at SHISSF, the forerunner to the present ScotString music week. Thus my wonderful journey within the Scottish music scene began.
As a piano accompanist I love the freedom to create the underneath lower music for tunes that do not have any written. Also, when a tune isn’t sounding great due to the accompaniment being uninspiring, I love to change it by choosing those notes/chords that will enhance the true essence of that tune. It’s great to hear it become ‘more’, and I find it very satisfying to do.
Lynne has been playing, learning, teaching and dancing to Scottish Country Dance music for 20 years, in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland and the US. She plays fiddle for SCD in her dance band Wild Heather, fiddle or piano accompaniment for classes and social dancing, and accordion in her ceilidh band, Schiehallion. Lynne is also the NZ Branch Music Adviser, giving NZ’s tutors, dancers and musicians an avenue for advice and comment. And in her spare time, Lynne is a Lower Hutt teacher of… music!