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  1. Actually, a heavy jig is a treble jig, or a jig done in hard shoes, so it is the same beat as a jig, only played very, very slowly for beginners and very very very slowly for more advanced dancers. A hornpipe is always a hard shoe dance. Feis musicians are amazing. They play for about 6 hours, with few breaks, except the occasional run to the bathroom. I don't know how they do it, mostly they play consistently all day long. As far as communication with dancers, often there isn't even very much communication between dancers because they are competitive, so it is not unlikely that a young dancer doesn't know what kind of tune she needs or what speed it needs to be played. Teachers often count on parents to make sure their kids know what's going on, which isn't always practical. However, teachers, if they are even at the competition (there is quite a lot of travel involved in the Irish dancing competition circuit) are usually run off their feet at a feis, so even less likely to be around when necessary. As for whether the dancer wins or loses, we like to blame musicians, but the judges are the bigger target. There are rules that parents are not allowed to talk to the judges or the musicians, so we blame you guys in the car on the way home!
  2. As both the mother of a dancer and a dancer myself, I can tell you that the whole musician communication thing can be quite complex. It is true, in my experience, that dancers do not pay an awful lot of attention to what music is used. The choice of tunes is usually at the whim of the teacher, and we need to be able to do the steps no matter what the tune. Consequently, dancers, especially young ones, really have no clue about speeds. There are two hornpipe speeds and two jig speeds. You are right that the slower hornpipe speeds are for more experienced dancers and they do then get to put a lot of steps between beats. So the musician falls asleep and the dancer kills him/herself to get all the steps in. At a recent feis, my daughter danced a slow hornpipe to music that was not only fast, but kept speeding up as it went. She kept in time however and managed a third in her competition. The jig speeds differ based on the shoes they are wearing. In fact, there are really 3 speeds, one for soft shoe, and then a fast (traditional) and slow for the hard shoes. I see more and more musicians with metronomes, not ones that make sounds but the show the beat to help them keep time. It must be really difficult for the slow speeds, because it doesn't seem natural to play that slowly. As for when they finish their dances in competition, usually the girls do two steps, right foot and left foot, so that means 32 bars. In the championship categories, they do three steps, so that would be 48 per dancer. Ken, the kids and are doing quite well, keeping very busy with school and Irish dancing. This forum setup has really freed up time for the other family member, so I think it's great.
  3. Hello all. I am Paul's wife. I do check in on the forum once in a while. You may know that our daughter is involved in Irish dancing. She's been to many competitions over the past few years, and all but one have had live musicians. I have never seen a concertina player, however, though I think it would be well suited to the task, what with the volume it gets. I was wondering if any of you have played at a feis. If so, what was it like? What do you think of the world of dancers? Would you do it again? Just thought it could be an interesting topic. Cornelia
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