As of January 1, 2018, the CLRG requires candidates who want to take the TCRG exam to first complete grades 1-12 before even applying to go further. There are pros and cons to this decision – and just as many opinions to go around! But mostly this has left a lot of dancers and aspiring teachers confused and asking, “What’s the plan now?!” So I’m here to tell you what the deal is with these grades exams!
**First of all, click here to get all the details straight from the CLRG about the process of completing your grades and TCRG exam.
I’m not one to dwell on the negative side of things; there are always two sides (at least!) to any decision. But with this new rule change, I’ll admit that at first I was one who didn’t see the point of it. In fact, part of why I got my TCRG qualification when I did was so that I wouldn’t have to go through all 12 grades first! My reaction to this rule change? It’ll cost too much money, and take too much time to get through something that isn’t necessary.
What’s more, if you happen to live in a region that doesn’t offer a feis every weekend, the timeline is even more of a challenge to completing your grades. However, challenging and difficult does not mean impossible!
Sure there are the ‘cons’ of money and time spent, and the sheer of planning makes the achievement of a TCRG qualification seem even more daunting. But each of those negatives has a positive…
The longer I thought about this new decision by the CLRG, the more I started to see that perhaps there is a lot of benefit to be gained from working through the grades. By slowing down the entrance process, the grades are essentially forcing you to study for longer, and to *really* be prepared before you apply for the TCRG exam – and ideally more likely to pass. Sure there is more time involved, but as with anything in life, the process of getting to the end is where you learn everything worthwhile!
It’s also important to note that there is no time limit on how soon you can start your Grades exams. This means that if you are currently a competitive dancer, you can start your grades while you’re still competing. By the time you are ready to retire, you can head right into your TCRG exam! Your dancing technique will still be in top shape, and you will have gained all the background knowledge and experience as you’ve worked through the content. With all this in mind, it’s time to look at…
The CLRG website has all sorts of timeline rules regarding when you can apply for which exam. Click here to read them all, and always double check as you start to plan your upcoming exams.
The first few grades cover things like beginner and primary softshoe and traditional hardshoe dances, so many dancers can get through them easily. The later grades require dancers to know multiple contemporary sets and ceili dances, so if you are trying to get through all the exams quickly, it would be worth planning ahead to give yourself more time to learn any additional dances.
As the demand increases, more feis locations are starting to offer grades exams at the same time. Often they on a separate day from the feis, making for a longer trip, but a sort of 2-in-1 option for grades and competition all in one weekend. If you are still a competitive dancer, this is probably the best option in order to pass your grades as you go along. With time and judge restrictions in mind, plan out which feises you are most likely to go to within the next year, and contact them directly to ask if they will be offering the grades exams you need; and do some research about what to expect if you’re nervous.
It’s clear that with the required grades exams, it is now going to take much more time and planning to reach your TCRG certification in the future! This is not necessarily a bad change to the system, but is something that will take some adjusting. In the end, everything you learn along the way is required for your TCRG exam, so think of it as a gradual study program testing you on information you’re more likely to retain since you didn’t cram!
This Facebook group is a great resource for dancers who are studying for their exams, and is a good place to ask questions. And if you’re starting to plan for your TCRG exam, click here to read study tips for each section of the exam- helpful even for the grades exams!
Stay tuned as we find out more information about Grades exams and the process in the future.