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So You Want to Compete in a Fiddle and Stepdance Contest...

You've heard about the Ontario fiddle and stepdance contest circuit, you'd love to check it out, but you aren't quite sure where to start. What do you play? What do you do? Hopefully, this page can help you get started



A waltz is a dance tune in 3/4 time. 


Reels are faster tunes written in 2/4. Many contests will also allow two-steps and breakdowns instead of a reel.


Jigs are tunes written in 6/8.

Tune of Choice

Certain contests require open contestants to add a fourth tune to their final set. This tune can be any fiddle tune of their choosing in Canadian Old Time style, unless the contest category specifies a "Canadian Tune of Choice," in which case, the tune must be Canadian composed.

Most competitors will compete a waltz, a jig and a reel. In Ontario, these tunes are judged based on Canadian Old-Time style. Contestants 9 and under generally only compete one of these tunes. Always consult the rules for the contest you will be attending to make sure you are prepared for the specifics of this contest. 

Contest tunes are typically played 1.5 times through, or AABBAA format, with the exception of waltzes, which may just be played AABB in order to allow the contest set to fit within the specified time limit.

It can be daunting to select tunes for a contest. Here are a list of commonly competed tunes


  • Village Carousel Waltz

  • Mom, This One's For You

  • Festival Waltz

  • Westphalia Waltz

  • Raemona Waltz

  • Phil and Irene's Waltz

  • Tennessee Waltz

  • Apple Blossom Waltz

  • Waiting for Emily

  • Aretha's Waltz


  • Little House Around the Corner

  • Piper's Inn

  • Bill Crawford's Fiddle

  • Rocking Chair Jig

  • Murray River Jig

  • Boston Life

  • Pembroke Jig

  • Jig du Bois

  • Quadrille Laurier


  • Red Lion Hornpipe

  • Reel St-Jean

  • The Old Man and the Old Woman

  • Angus Campbell

  • Grizzly Bear

  • Reel de Rimouski

  • Randall's Hornpipe

  • Whitefish in the Rapids

Tunes of Choice

  • Don't Let the Deal Go Down

  • Ragtime Annie

  • Winner in Wintapeg

  • Maple Sugar

  • Maiden's Prayer

Beginner Tunes

  • Peekaboo Waltz

  • Bile 'em Cabbage Down

  • Chase Me Charlie

  • On the Road to Boston

  • Devil's Dream

  • Swallowtail

  • Redwing

  • Sherbrooke Reel


  • Bluegrass in the Backwoods

  • Alabama Jubilee

  • Tune for Andy

  • Windy City Rag

  • Jerusalem Ridge


  • In the Garden

  • Mansion on the Hilltop

  • Old Rugged Cross

  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus

  • Just a Closer Walk with Thee

  • Amazing Grace

  • How Great Thou Art



Clogs, written in 4/4, are usually slower than a reel, but often have more intricate steps, better corresponding with the rhythms in the tune. When danced in a clog/jig/reel set, it usually comprises 4 steps, but could have more if it was done on its own.

Sample dance tune: Newcastle Hill


Reels are tunes in 2/4 time. Reels are most often choreographed in 96 bar sets (12 steps), but some have started competing 64 bar reels (8 steps) instead. 

Sample dance tunes: Ray Couture/Montebello


Jigs are tunes written in 6/8. The tempo is a bit faster than a clog. In a clog/jig/reel set, 6 steps are usually danced, but you could dance as many as 8 if doing it as a stand alone piece. 

Sample dance tune: It's in D

Group dance

Group numbers (generally consisting of 3 or more dancers) do not have to follow the clog/jig/reel format. These numbers are choreographed with interaction between the group members.

Sample group routine: Unreel

Most competitors will compete a clog, a jig or a reel. In most contests, contestants in the 15&under, 18&under and open classes must compete a clog, a jig and a reel. In Ontario, contestants are evaluated on timing, sound, execution, precision, quality/variety of steps and showmanship. Groups will also be evaluated on choreography. 

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