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Willow04

Lower School Tring/Hammond & decision stress!

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I have never posted here before but really need some advice regarding my dd and vocational schools.

 

Like many of your children she has been auditioning for a Year 7 place over the last few months and we are delighted that she has been offered a place at both Hammond and finals for Elmhurst. 

 

However she is not one of those girls who has a dream to be a classical dancer and I would say although she is very good at ballet and has the right physique for it she is much better at contemporary dance and is a real “all rounder” so can sing and act very nicely as well.  Because of this she did two auditions for Tring – one for the Dance Course and one for the Theatre Arts course.  We received a letter from the Theatre Arts course almost straight away offering her a place which we were over the moon about. However we found out yesterday that she has not been offered a place on their Dance course.

 

This is where my confusion lies, because if she has already been offered places/finals at Hammond and Elmhurst it must prove she can dance and is capable of following this path and therefore why did Tring not want her on their Dance course?  It’s not that I particularly mind as I am so grateful she has offers, but more that I want to make sure I choose the right school for her and I’m now unsure which way to go as each school is giving me mixed messages!

 

If I choose Hammond or Elmhurst (not that I think anything will come of Elmhurst) is that the wrong choice because it won’t give her as much opportunity to sing and act which she would get on the Theatre course at Tring?  Or if we choose Tring Theatre Arts will she get enough dancing, as I would hate for the past few years of training to be for nothing and especially when the other audition offers have prove she is a good dancer.

 

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this and especially from anyone with children at the above mentioned schools.  It’s such a huge decision to make and I am starting to feel very overwhelmed by the whole thing. Thanks :-)

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Welcome Willow04. It is very confusing isn't it?! I only have experience of Tring, so will share what I know. My DS auditioned last year (yr10) for Tring on both the ballet and the performance arts course (TA) for year 7. He was offered a school scholarship final for PA and a funding audition for ballet. After much discussion we decided to only go to the final for the dancers course.

 

We know from a private source that if both departments like a DC, the heads will argue it out and the one who wants the child more, will get them. What may have happened is that both sections really liked your DD and the TA head won! It certainly does not mean your DD is not suitable for classical. I know of one DC about 3 yrs ago was offered a place with a scholarship for TA (not ballet). The offer was turned down and the DC was accepted for RBS!

 

At Tring, on TA course children get 3 ballet lessons a week. The rest is jazz/modern, acting, singing, tap and I'm not sure what else. They do RAD on a Saturday out side of the main curriculum, so she could also do that. We have heard of a DC who was so good at dance on the TA course, she did ballet with the dancers course.

 

Hope that helps. Many congratulations to your DD, a massive achievement to be offered places.

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Hi willow04

I think picturesinthefirelight will be a good source of info on Hammond. I'm pretty sure children on the dance course there get to do singing etc as well.

 

I agree you have had rather mixed messages although finals at Elmhurst is a great achievement so she must 'have it' for dance.

 

I think in general it would be harder to switch onto a dance course later on than the other way round.

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Hi Willow, we also only have experience of Tring but were also in the position of choosing between TA's (theatre arts) and Dance. We took the view that the window for dance training was smaller than for performing arts and as ballet was what she really wanted to do it was an easy decision. It really depends on what your daughter really loves doing (difficult in yr 6 !) but to give an example the junior TA's have a ballet class two or three times a week  as Harwel says but on the dance course this will be a 2 hour class a day. Conversely on the dance course my dd had one drama lesson a week and no singing at all. Occasionally children move from one course to another but this is not common.

 

Good luck with the decision, it is a good dilemma to have !

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Willow04, Elmhurst finals is a great achievement, congratulations to your dd. At Elmhurst I would say you also have the opportunity to keep all options open. Whilst classical ballet is the core focus they also do tap and jazz. There is also the option for music/singing lessons and from year 10 they take on contemporary and flamenco. There are also RAD lessons on Saturdays. Oh, and drama. Best of luck with the auditions and deliberations.

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I'm home now.

 

First congratulations to your daughter for the finals & offers she has so far. I wouldn't take it personally that she has finals for Elmhurst but not a dance offer for Tring. It seems like they have very few dance places.

 

I looked at the Theatre Arts course as it sounded ideal for my dd but ultimately it came down to finances. There was no funding for Theatre Arts apart from a nominal scholarship & their fees were much higher than Hammonds. Furthermore Hammond seemed to be offering much more generous bursaries to those without an MDS

 

You asked about the course at Hammond. There is a big focus on classical ballet with each week in Years 7 & 8:

 

4X 90 minute ballet classes(including 2 RAD classes)

2X 60 minute ballet classes

2X 60 minute Modern classes

2X 60 minute Tap classes

3 hours of dance on Saturday mornings (choreo/street/contemporary/pilates etc)

(Jazz is timetabled from Year 9 or 10 onwards not sure which)

 

Then there is also

 

1X 60 min drama lesson

1X60 min Vocal Training

1X 45 min Choir

 

Children with an MDS get a free individual singing or instrumental lesson, those without can pay for one. Also individual/small group speech & drama training is available as an extra too.

 

Singing is seen as a big strength at the school. Dd wishes she could do a little more drama.

 

I hope that helps a little.

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Thank you for all the replies.  This has been really useful, particularly getting an insight into what each school offers.

 

DD definitely does not want to be a Ballet Dancer “when she grow up”  but she does love dancing and is very good at it, so we know it has to feature in whichever school we choose.  At the moment my gut feeling is that Hammond sounds more suited to her, but she loves Tring and my husband is veering that way as well so it may well come down to funding and a good look at our finances.

 

Thanks again and well done to everyone else who has been on this journey and also has offers to consider.

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Hello Willow and welcome to the Forum. Please keep posting and let us know what you decide. Good luck to your DD.

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Hi Willow

 

My daughter sounds just like yours but a year ahead!  She is year 7 at Hammond and absolutely loving it! Last year she was offered both the dance and TA courses at Tring, a place at Hammond and also a place at Redroofs Performing Arts school. She got Elmhurst finals too and although she loves ballet did not want to be a ballerina. In the end her decision was for the Hammond - the dance training is fantastic, lots of ballet but the other genres too, the whole school sings (and this is something that she is very focused on) and there are opportunities for drama classes, private lamda classes, taking part in the big musical theatre production every 2 years, drama GCSE option etc.

 

It is fab that your DD has offers to choose from, in the end mine certainly chose what felt right for her, which was slightly more dance to start with, as it is so much more difficult to catch up on that if you decide that it is more important eventually, but with lots of singing and drama available and more to come in higher years, and she is loving every minute! She also chose the school that she felt most at home in - important when they are boarding at such a young age!

 

Hope this helps!

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Hi Unzabun .

 

Goodness our daughters really do sound similar as my dd also has scholarship audition for Redroofs.  I almost wish we didn't have so many offers as I am going out of my mind trying to decide where to send her.  I love all the schools for different reasons and none of us (dd included) can decide if she should follow a dancing path or focus more on acting and singing.  Like many of you I feel dance training needs to start now while she is young and is not something you can catch up on later.  However I also do not want her acting/singing compromised and let's be honest there are many more career options available at the end of all the training.

 

The dilemma continues! 

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I would wait until the final auditions are over and fingers crossed offers are made. I would then base my decisions on that. All of the vocational schools offer great training. In my opinion it is harder to get into Elmhurst than it is for the other two. That is not to say that it is better.

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Hi this is my first post and I hope nobody takes offence or takes this the wrong way but Reading this thread made me feel a little worried for dc who are just 100% dance and aren't very good at singing and acting. As we all know there are so few places at these top schools as it is but surely it's even harder for the children who only dance if there are places being taken up by all rounders who are not sure what they want to do yet? Now I'm not saying these children shouldn't take the dance course places as they obviously have a lot of talent and have worked hard to get the offer, but surely if you don't want to be a dancer then you would be better off on the MT course and leaving the dance course spaces open to those whom do wish to pursue a career within the dance industry and haven't got the singing/acting ability? I don't have a dc at this level myself but a close friend has a daughter with offers to finals and she has told me that at Tring if they do MT then the course is 90% MT and 10% dance anyway....surely that would be enough dance training for a child who is unsure but wanting to keep a foot in the door of dance?? Please correct me if I am wrong as this is a question I ask purely because I don't understand and my friends dd is an all rounder but thinking of taking the dance course and I just don't understand why or believe that it's a very fair thing to do being as said child loves to act and would love to be in broadway shows, she loves to dance also but does NOT want to be a ballerina.....why take dance then?? I read someone's post saying it's harder to get back into dance at a later stage but it's not like they are completely out of it if 10% of the course is dance anyway? My mind boggles??

 

Just to note my dd is only just starting out in the dance world and teacher says she shows potential, hence friend suggesting I use this site to give me an insight into what I'm letting myself in for :)

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Hello Pointe-less and welcome to the forum. :-)

 

You raise an interesting point. To be honest, "fair" doesn't really come into it when discussing the often bonkers world of dance training. There is so much about dance that isn't fair at all. There are nowhere near enough places, or even jobs, for all those children who dream of dance as a career. A child maybe hugely talented but not have the "right" physique, feet, turnout, proportions, you name it. A graduate may be too fair, too dark, too tall, too small to suit what a company director is looking for at that moment. Nothing about it is fair, but it is what it is. As parents all we can do is to go into the process with our eyes open and learn as much as possible.

 

In terms of people taking places on pure dance courses when they can sing, or if they are unsure whether it's a classical career they'd like - well, gosh, that's their prerogative, isn't it? I know 45 year-olds who still don't know what they'd like to do as a dream job.

If a student is unsure whether they would like to try for classical ballet or musical theatre, then all they and their parents can do is to make a list of pros and cons of the schools they have been offered, and go with their gut feeling about where the student will be happiest, which is so important given the obstacles any dancer can face at any time. It is much easier to train in singing and drama later than it is to train seriously in ballet as an older student.

Ballet class is the basis of all dance training, including Musical Theatre, so it is much harder to add ballet in later than it is singing or drama lessons, for instance. So if there is any chance that a child may decide that a career in dance - even in Musical Theatre - is for them, better IMHO to start off on a course which focuses mainly on dance than one which only offers 10% of dance and 90% drama and singing. As a parent, we have to do what is best for our own child's happiness, education and career prospects - I don't think you could expect any parent to say "well we won't take that place in case someone who can't sing wants it". :-)

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I would wait until the final auditions are over and fingers crossed offers are made. I would then base my decisions on that. All of the vocational schools offer great training. In my opinion it is harder to get into Elmhurst than it is for the other two. That is not to say that it is better.

I agree with waiting until you see which schools offer places. It's so easy to get caught up in the process, and let's remember what a great achievement it is to get Finals/funding auditions in the first place - but my personal advice would be to see what you get offered, then sit down and make a pros and cons list, including academic provision, distance from home, and most important, gut feeling about where you all felt happiest and most at home - and THEN decide. :-)

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Well, my child is one of those all rounders taking up a dance place (albeit not on an MDS as she isn't classical enough to merit the funding, others are technically stronger)

 

To have a career in Musical Theatre unless you are one of the exceptional few who are leading lady calibre you have to be very very very strong in dance. Ds decided that if she was offered a drama place but not a dance place she would decline as the amount of dance training on offer would not allow her to aspire to a career in MT.

 

I don't know the content of the Tring MT or TA course but 10% dance would be woefully inadequate unless it was in essence an actor/singer course with a bit of movement training (all actors have to learn to move).

 

At Hammond in the Upper School it is a common first year for Dance & MT so you can't even get into the MT course without being at a very high level of dance.

 

Of course my daughter would never contemplate somewhere like RBS or Elmhurst, totally unsuitable for her, & she was offered a late place for the school where she is now so I don't consider her to have taken someone else's spot anyway, she got a place as did another child in her year because other(s) turned it down but these schools are realist. They are trying to give their students the tools to succeed in the industry. It used to ge that companies employed dancers who could sing a little in the background, or singers who sang the solos and swayed whilst the dancers dsnced behind. Now they want performers who can do both, plus act as well.

 

Wicked has a dancer en pointe for example in the ensemble. Tap is making a comeback on several shows.

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Welcome to the forum Pointe-less. Its not an easy world to negotiate and there is no right way to do things so people will always have their own opinion for what is best. At the end of the day though you are talking about a 10 year old child and trying to keep as many options open for them for the future. Choosing a dance course does not mean the child has to want to be a ballet dancer but when you get to 16 and are auditioning for diplomas or degrees in professional dance or MT , ballet seems to be a major component for all auditions. Colleges seem to be looking for the triple threat - dance, acting, singing and out of the three dance is perhaps the one that needs the most hours - that cannot necessarily be dropped and picked up again later. You also have to remember that dancers not at vocational school are likely to be upping their dance training as they get older so a child 'keeping their foot in the door' as you put it may well find that by 16, competing against those from dance courses at vocational school and non vocational students, it may be difficult to get onto a dance course if that becomes the preferred option as the child gets older. Most of the dance diplomas and degrees for 16+ are actually qualifications in Professional Dance as opposed to specifically ballet. Ballet will determine entry onto the course but dancers are assessed on 2 or 3 disciplines and their strengths when older may turn out to be contemporary or jazz for example.

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Thank you spannerandpony and picturesinthefirelight and as I said I was not saying that these children shouldn't take the places it was just my wondering (and obvious lack of knowledge) as to why they would!! I suppose if you want to be purely classical you would go more for Elmhurst or The Royal Ballet School then? I see I have much to learn! Thank you for your replies!!

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From my own point of view I run childrens drama classes & my husband is a singing teacher. So dd had no problem accessing good training in those areas.

 

Where she struggled was in dance & particularly balket. There just wasn't enough hours available for her at the right level locally. At 11 she was already falling behind with just a weekly/twice weekly grade ballet class, no vocational grade classes, once a month Associates & a weekly 45 min tap & modern class. Others I know are more fortunate in what is available in their areas & I too am more knowledgable in what else is out there these days.

 

The drama course at her school would have dropped that down even further to just 1 hour long dance class per week.

 

The upshot is that any of those 11 year olds entering vocational school may change their minds as to what they want to do in the future.

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DD is on a Pre-vocational MT course of her 34 hours a week about 4.5 hours a week aren't dance (so acting & singing); now I know that at college it will be a bit more evenly spread but that's what it is right now

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I think the TA course at Tring is a much higher percentage than 10% dance.

I will see if I can find out for certain at the weekend.

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Yes, I thought so too, Busymum.

 

When my DD was 10 she received offers for the dance course at Tring plus scholarship audition for MT at Tring. We decided to discount the MT as we felt it far more important to keep up her dance at the highest possible level at that stage. At that point, we really didn't know whether she'd end up more dance or more MT. Although she wasn't on the MT course herself so I can't swear to it, I'm sure the children did far more than 10% dance.

 

Anyway, she moved to Hammond (dance course) for year 8 and is now in year 11 there. I really think your DD would have sufficient of everything she needs there. The singing tuition and experience they get is amazing. (You just have to go to one of their professional-standard Carol Services to know that). There isn't a huge amount of drama for the younger ones, but I do think this is less important at a young age. My DD now does drama GCSE, so at least she gets that. She's choosing to go ballet rather than MT for her 16+ training, but I'm sure the amount of drama she's had would not have stopped her accessing 16+ training in MT or indeed have had her lagging behind the others on the course. She's received a good quantity of high quality ballet training, plus sufficient tap and modern/jazz training to be at Advanced 2 and Advanced 1 standards respectively.

 

If you'd like to PM me, please do!

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Welcome pointe-less. Is your friend talking about year 7 TA course at Tring or year 12 MT course? I really don't know the answer to the level of dance in year 12 MT, but if your friend is talking about year 7 then unfortunately she has her facts muddled. The year 7 to 9 children have approximately 20 hours of vocational studies a week - 10% would be 2 hours dancing only - with this level of dancing they wouldn't stand a chance of gaining places at a senior level to MT dance schools.

 

In my opinion, up to age 16, if a child were to Have the choice between dance and MT, I would pick dance every time. The dance standard, for girls particularly, going to our top MT schools is incredibly high. I know plenty who have passed advanced 2 ballet aswell as advanced 1 or 2 tap and modern. I also think any dance student should have singing lessons and be conversant in all forms of dance - you need to give yourself the widest possible skills to get that first job, only a tiny, tiny percentage are purely classical and really can't do anything else.

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Hi Unzabun .

 

Goodness our daughters really do sound similar as my dd also has scholarship audition for Redroofs.  I almost wish we didn't have so many offers as I am going out of my mind trying to decide where to send her.  I love all the schools for different reasons and none of us (dd included) can decide if she should follow a dancing path or focus more on acting and singing.  Like many of you I feel dance training needs to start now while she is young and is not something you can catch up on later.  However I also do not want her acting/singing compromised and let's be honest there are many more career options available at the end of all the training.

 

The dilemma continues! 

Hi Willow

 

I know it is frustrating and makes you feel panicky inside when you think about it, but you really don't have to make any decisions until finals are all over and you have funding offers on the table, which may perhaps make a big difference to what is best for the whole family - I remember going through very much what you are describing and wanting so desperately to make the best decision for the future, but ultimately we listened very hard to our dd and actually, when the pressure of auditions was over, she considered the the pros and cons of all the options very carefully and explained her preference in a very mature way. In the end, she made the decision for us, and she was right!

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I just thought I would shed a little light on the current yr 7 vocational timetable for Tring.  My DD is on the Dance Course and she has:

 

ballet every day - either 1.5 hour or 2 hrs per day

modern twice a week 

tap once a week

drama once a week

choir once a week

conditioning/pilates once a week

 

In contrast the TAs have:

ballet twice a week

modern twice a week

tap once a week

Plus Solo singing classes, Choir & Drama but I'm not sure how many classes of these they get.

 

From what I have learned from my DD, the tap class is combined Dance and TAs.

 

All the vocational classes are held in the mornings and then the two groups come together every afternoon for their academic lessons.
 

Hope this helps - I think Tring focus more on keeping options open as wide as possible until after year 9 when they start specialising more.  DD is very happy there :)

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Yes Harwel she is year 7 and thanks for the replies everyone, you have opened my eyes!! So much to consider.....rather scary when you are on the outside looking in!! Thanks again :)

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Does anyone know how much dance they get in year 7 at Redroofs?

Hi Katia, this thread was originally about Hammond and Tring so you may not get any answers about Redroofs here. I hate to advertise other forums, ;-) but have you looked on places like notapushymum for info on Redroofs?

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