Day School 2019

The Branch runs an annual Day School each October. There are morning and afternoon classes with an optional afternoon workshop, followed by an evening dance with ceilidh items. There is also a Musicians’ class, leading to playing for the evening dance.

The Day School will take place on 19 October 2019 at St Helen’s School, Eastbury Road, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 3AS (A more detailed description of how to get to the school and a map of the site

Start time 10.00 am for enrolment and coffee. Morning session starts 10.30 am and afternoon session 2.00 pm

Teachers: Kate Gentles, Antoine Rousseau, Samantha Schad, Rachel Shankland

Musicians: Barbara Manning, Ken Martlew, Sandra Smith, Ian and Meryl Thomson,

The Musicians’ workshop will be led by Ian Muir (Prestwick).

Evening Dance to music from Ian Muir (Prestwick) and the Musicians’ Workshop musicians. See details of the evening dance.

Downloadable application forms are now available for:

Dancers and for the Musicians’ Workshop.

For those wishing to apply online and pay by bank transfer see below
(for details of the classes etc please view the application forms above) 

Dancers’ application form

Musicians’ Workshop application form


Kate Gentles

Kate grew up in Northumberland, where the family occasionally attended dances, and started going to classes as a student in Cambridge – at the class she now teaches. While at Cambridge, she also learned step dancing, a style that she loves as a complement to country dancing. She took her Teaching Certificates at Cambridge and has been teaching the advanced class there since 2000. She has taught both country and step dancing at day schools and St Andrews Summer School.


Antoine Rousseau

I have started dancing in Paris when I was 15 in a group which became few years later the Paris Branch. I first joined the RSCDS summer school in 1988 and it was a revelation: the good mixture of fun, technique and social activities. I have been teaching since I was 21 year old, first in Lyon during my studies, then in Paris and passed my teaching certificate in 2009. Since then, I taught at RSCDS Summer School at St Andrews, and several WE and Schools in Northern America, Europe, Australia
and New Zealand, where I met wonderful people of the Scottish dancing scene. I currently dance and teach at the Paris-Branch, in France.

Samantha Schad

Sam Schad started Scottish country dancing as a graduate student in Hamburg. When she returned to Britain she was amazed that you could go dancing almost every night of the week, and she soon did. She has taught many generations of students at the Oxford University Scottish Dance Society. She met her husband, James Fairbairn, through Scottish dancing, and the junior Fairbairns, Beth and Fergus, are following in the family footsteps. Fergus even plays the bagpipes.



Rachel Shankland

Rachel started Scottish Country dancing at the age of 5 in Dumfries, Scotland. Since then she has
danced with various groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries. A teacher by trade, Rachel teaches
the Advanced class for Edinburgh RSCDS. She has also taught at several Day Schools throughout the
UK and Europe as well as at Summer School in St Andrews where she also volunteered as Depute
Director for two years.
Rachel looks forward to teaching at London Day School and sharing her passion for Scottish Country
Dancing with everyone.


Barbara Manning

After many years as a keen Scottish country and highland dancer, Barbara Manning turned her classical music training to band use over 35 years ago, and since then has accompanied dancing in many parts of the UK and Europe, the USA, Ukraine and Russia, besides visiting Summer School both as a dancer and musician. She has played for numerous day schools and London Branch technique classes, and has featured on recordings and with McBain’s Band on Radio Scotland’s ‘Take the Floor’ from St Columba’s, Pont Street and on the Earls Court Radio Show, besides playing on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the Royal Ballet School’s Annual Performance in 1985. She currently plays mainly with the Silver Cross Band and in a duo with Ken Martlew, besides featuring solo on either piano or fiddle. In November 2016, Barbara was delighted to receive from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association the personal award of Vicki Avery for Service to Amateur Theatre.

Ken Martlew

Ken Martlew has been a semi-professional musician most of his life, mainly with church music and conducting choral societies. He read music at Oxford University for a year before switching to medicine. While a medical student he gained his (ARCO) diploma on the organ, conducted numerous choirs, and composed an opera which was successfully performed at the college.

Around 1980 he discovered Scottish Country Dancing, and became a keen dancer, gaining his RSCDS Teacher’s Certificate in 1993. He then started playing the piano for Scottish Country Dancing, giving up regular church and choral music commitments to concentrate on it. In 2002 he retired from his medical work as a GP in order to give more time to music and SCD.

Since 1994 Ken has been a frequent pianist at St. Andrews Summer School. He was Branch Pianist at Cambridge for 8 years, moving on to the Berks./Hants./Surrey Borders Branch, and he played for the London Advanced /Technique class for 15 years. He has taught or played for countless SCD events in the UK and in some 14 other countries. He has run SCD Music Workshops in Germany, France and Holland, danced with the London demonstration team, and tutored a successful RSCDS Teachers Certificate course.

Ken regularly teams up with Barbara Manning (or other violinists), to form a duo. The combination is versatile, as he can teach classes in the day accompanied by Barbara, and play as a duo for the evening Dances.

Sandra Smith

Sandra was brought up in Inverness where she was introduced to Scottish Country Dancing by her parents who were both keen dancers. Her Mother, an amateur pianist collected the RSCDS books which inspired Sandra to play Scottish music. She continued dancing and playing during her time at school.
After obtaining a music degree at Edinburgh University, she was awarded a scholarship for study abroad. She gained two diplomas in Vienna and was invited to join the staff as a vocal coach. She then moved to France where she worked as a repetiteur in the Opera House in Rouen.
On her return to the UK, she settled in London where her connection with dancing resumed. She was approached by Mary Stoker who was looking for a pianist as Phyllis Draper was retiring. Sandra played for Mary’s classes in Pinner and her Monday night classes in London for many years. Her contribution to the society is as class pianist and Demonstration Class pianist. She has also played for numerous Day Schools, and with various instrumentalists and bands. Sandra is on the staff of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the London College of Music, and has a busy private practice as a vocal coach and accompanist.

Ian and Meryl Thomson

Ian and Meryl first started playing for country dancing around 1981 with various English country dance and Scottish ceilidh bands. They started playing for SCD classes in 1998 with Irene Edgar in Reigate and have played together for SCD classes at St Andrew’s Summer School for four years, including playing for quadrille classes with Jimmie Hill.

They have worked with Mats Melin for a Shetland and a Cape Breton class and have played at the Argyll Weekend School in Dillington and IOW Weekend School. In past years they have also played together for some of the London Branch Summer General classes and more recently for several of the London Branch Advanced Technique classes.

As part of the band Green Ginger since 1998 they have played for Scottish country dances in the UK and further afield in France, Germany, Luxembourg and USA. They also play for historical dances, particularly from the Regency period.

Their interest lies in the traditional fiddle music of Scotland, using music from the greats such as William Marshall, Robert Mackintosh and Niel and Nathaniel Gow in their repertoire. They play as a duo with Ian taking the tune and Meryl providing a bass line/chords.

Musicians’ Workshop

Ian Muir (Prestwick)

Ian 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, he has performed solo in Scottish Variety theatres throughout the country. He formed his own Scottish Dance Band in 1984 and has been a regular contributor on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘TAKE THE FLOOR’ programme not only as a bandleader but for two summer seasons as the programme’s presenter.

He combines playing duties with his tutorial role as principal accordion tutor in the Scottish Music Department at the prestigious ROYAL CONSERVATOIRE OF SCOTLAND, a post he has now held for 23 years.

This year is a particularly busy one with trips to Sweden, Australia and New Zealand playing for SCD. He takes on a piano-accompanist role in the USA where he takes part in the Boston Harbor Fiddle School. Ian is very much looking forward to another visit to the London Musicians’ Day School with fond memories of a great session last time!