Square Dance Singing Calls That You Can Split On!

Yes, that is split as in “Split the Couple” the square dance call, not spit. Although you may end up spitting on your microphone occasionally!

When you perform a singing call, there are two different approaches that you should use when you deliver the choreography that you call. You can either sing the calls substituting those words for the lyrics along with the melody or you can cue the words in time with the music.

For more information on improving timing when square dance calling go to: timing and metering when delivering your square dance calls .

Below is a great basic singing call sequence that brings together some really easy Mainstream level basic moves including the “Split 2” and “Around One.” These are actually 2 separate calls that are used in combination almost all of the time. Not difficult, but it sure beats the Do Sa Do when you feel the need to offer variety. Calling different figures in singing calls does not necessarily mean that you, as a modern western square dance caller have to call more difficult figures, it means you just need to present different choreographic sequences in a more interesting and fun manner!

CALLING TIP! Occasionally use a singing call that you can have the dancers join you in the singing of the chorus. This type of “singalong” audience participation always increases the dancer’s enjoyment!

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Split 2 Around 1 To A Line
Pass Thru
U Turn Back
Right & Left Thru
Rollaway Half Sashay
Touch a Quarter
Boys Run
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

Or you can try….

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Split 2 Around 1 To A Line
Touch a Quarter
Boys Run
Right & Left Thru
Pass to the Center
Square Thru Three Quarter
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

 

If you are in the local vicinity of Colorado, See you at the state festival, “Cut the Diamond” 60th Anniversary Celebration of the Colorado State Square Dance Festival from June 12 through June 14, 2015 at the Crown Plaza DIA  5500 East 40th Avenue, Denver Colorado, 80239! There will be all levels of dancing and fun up through the Mainstream Level – Plus Level – Advance Level .

See you there!
Shaun Werkele

 

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

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Springfield National Square Dance Convention in 2015

Here’s some helpful information about the 64th National Square Dance Convention coming to Springfield, Massachusetts in 2015!

The National Square Dance Convention will take place June 24 – June 27, 2015 at the MassMutual Center in 2015 as a major event for the year in the state of Massachusetts. “Experience New England”

The large MassMutual Center will provide a great amount of area for all of the square dancing and entertainment with just under 100,000 total square feet and the venue is backed by quite a few local hotels that total more than 2,500 hotel rooms in Springfield and more than 1,100 downtown area accommodations within 5 minutes walking distance of the center.

The City of Springfield has a very thorough bus system. You may contact the Springfield Bus Terminal located at 1776 Main St Springfield MA 01103 at: (413) 781-3320. Of course there are taxi and other ground transportation options available.

The main parking garage is located in close range across from the center, whether you choose to use private flat parking lots, metered car street spaces, or locally managed vehicle parking garages.


Springfield Square Dance Parking
has more information about available parking in the vicinity around the MasssMutual Convention Center and the downtown area of Springfield MA.

For The 64th National Square Dance Convention events, please use the main entry located near the corner of Main Street and Falcons Way.

For general entrance into this grand square dance event, please use the MassMutual box office entry located on Falcons Way. The elevator for ADA and other transport is also located at this entrance. The flooring will be installed removeable hardwood that can be reused at other national conventions.

If you are flying in to the convention, The Bradley International Airport (BIA) is less than 19 miles north of the MassMutual Center. The Westover Metro Airport-CEF is just 10 miles away.


Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
is a great resource for more information about available restaurants and dining in the downtown area of the “Pioneer Valley”

There will be lots of great dancing and, of course, great square dance calling at this year’s “national.” Hope to see you there with dancing shoes on! Enjoy.

Shaun Werkele

 

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dancing and contributing to the ongoing promotion and the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Modern Western Square Dance Calling: Timing is EVERYTHING!

Great timing for a beginning square dance caller can be a daunting challenge. I cannot stress how important this one element – timing – in the art of square dance calling is. And, yes it is an art form that can be learned to the highest level. It requires more musicianship than one would think.

So, what needs to happen first to develop great timing is to practice with a metronome or drum machine. I recommend this method because it removes the melodic element of music, therefore allowing you to focus only on the beat of the music. Spend 5 to 10 minutes a day practicing with a metronome to a simple beat at 120-128 bpm (beats per minute) and you will see significant improvement in just a few weeks.

So what do I say?

Start with counting to the music. All music is built around melodic phrases which can be thought of as a short or long collection of notes that create something to listen to. In western square dance music most of these phrases are in either 4/4 time or 2/4 time(cut-time) and works around that melodic phrase, and this melodic phrase is almost always a sequence of notes that end in a 4 beat measure, 8 beat measure, or a 16 beat phrase. For example look at this classic square dance tune:

Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?  8 Beats
Won’t You Come Home?  8 Beats
She Moans the  4 Beats
Whole Day Lo-o-ng  5 Beats + 3 Rest Beats= 8 Beats

Try singing this melody first, without any beats and see if you can sing the melody. Now clap your hands and count 1-2-3-4 to the beats then work on singing the song to the rhythm. Don’t worry about reading a music sheet, just have the words handy to sing. Music is about sound first, so focus on Next, when you can sing the song to your clapping rhythm, turn on your rhythm machine and work on singing the song to tempo. Tempo is simply stated, “time,” so work on this mechanical exercise until you can sing it in time!

Now you are ready to try the melody to the music. Get out your singing call and try singing to it.

To call to a hoedown or “patter music” you need to apply the counting principle once again, starting with 1-2-3-4 and work on adding 5-6-7-8 so that you can call a 4 beat phrase or an 8 beat phrase in time.

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Now add the word “and” between every number when you say it.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8. This creates eighth notes that make phrasing “bounce.”

The word “seven” in the phrase above is a two-syllable word, so you will have to say it twice as fast to stay in time with the 8 beat count. Do this without music, first in your “personal rhythm,” hand clap it, and then with your metronome, and then try it with some music.

Every call that you deliver is a musical phrase that you are either giving from your memory, or you are creating on the spot when you call. The more that you practice, the better you will be in timing, and the better you will become at creating your own “melodies” that you deliver to the dance floor when you call.

So now that we have discussed timing and practicing it, the 2, 4, and 8 beat phrases and developing musical sequences of your own, let’s talk a little about delivering the calls. As a caller, the absolute most important thing that you can learn is to deliver the calls in tempo and in the correct meter with the music. Almost all hoedown music works around the 2-beat phrase, meaning 1-2,1-2 is the rhythm that carries the tempo. By calling on the one beat, 1-2-1-2, the one is where you should start with the delivery of your command. See the bolded parts below demonstrating the accentuating of the 1 beat through out the calls:

Allemande Left with the Corners there, and Grand Right and a Left go round the square

This is where the working on the 1-2-3-4 comes in:

Try:

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 Allemande Left with the Corners there, and Grand Right and a Left go round the square

Then:

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 Allemande Left with the Corners there, and Grand Right and a Left go round the square

Keep in mind that every call has a different meter in how the musical phrase of the call is delivered. This is a basic foundation for learning how to call to the music and fitting your calls to the music. If you can master this, you will become a great square dance caller, the dancers will enjoy the dance immensely because of your great timing, and they will dance more smoothly.

Have a Timely Practice!

Shaun Werkele

 
 
 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

 

Learn to Sing Harmonies on Square Dance Singing Calls

When I first started calling square dances in the Denver area and other areas of the Colorado Front Range, I spent most of my younger years thinking about choreography and I hardly gave much thought to the singing call portion of square dance calling. I guess it seemed to me that square dancing was about dancing first and foremost, and that made choreography so important to me.

I would have to say that at least two things changed my perspective on square dance calling and music in general. The rise of the electric guitar in rock music in the late seventies and early eighties had a huge impact on me. I remember hearing the Journey hit “Lovin’  Touchin’  Squeezin'”  on the radio when I was in high school and I was enthralled by the combination of guitar, piano and harmonized vocals and I was totally blown away by the compositions that this group was recording and releasing.  I had to get a guitar, and although I had played a little piano and clarinet when I was young, the complete sound of this band and others like STYX and Van Halen at that time had a huge impact on me.

The other event that changed my outlook on square dance calling was seeing the “national square dance callers” perform at the National Square Dance Conventions when I was young. I remember some of these great callers like the old “Chaparral Boys” singing in harmony on some singing calls and it was fantastic! This made me want to learn singing in harmony on square dance singing calls, so I became very interested in learning how to sing harmony and how to play leadand rhythm guitar and play piano and better understand music. So I worked on that (and I guess I still am)!

Anyway, on to the subject of this square dance educational post. Learning to sing harmony is something that someone who does not become “musical” in their background will find it very hard to achieve. The ability to sing harmony vocals on a song requires that you have a basic understanding of musical composition and how notes are put together to construct a unique composition that defines a particular song.

So now you are wondering, how do I learn what I need to know?

Start by getting a cheap keyboard or guitar and learn how to tune the guitar. Learn some simple chords on the piano and the guitar. Learn what an octave is. Learn what a fifth is. And a third and fourth. Find these notes and play them on the piano with the root note. Play a C note. Add the third, E note. Then add the G note. now play the three notes in a chain. Sing with the C Note. Sing with the E note. Then with the G note. Try singing the C> E> G notes with the C chord you have formed as you play all three notes. This is a great way to help you to find the “right” notes in order to sing harmony.

Get a tape recorder and play the C> E> G notes on the piano and sing the C note. Record yourself doing this. Play back the recorded part and see if you can find the E and G notes and sing along. If you have trouble, then start with the tonic root C note and “arpeggiate” up to the E and G notes. If you have enough vocal range, find the octave above the C note and sing it. Add that note to your appeggio that you have been working on. Practice this a few minutes a day.

Now find a song that you can hear the harmony vocal on and see if you can find that harmonic “sub-melody” and learn the notes. You will have to memorize the notes just like when you “learn the melody” of a song. Think of harmony as a part of the song that works with the melody. All of the notes that you sing create a chord that supports the song structure. Many old gospel and old country standards and even songs from the 1950’s such as hits by the Everly Brothers make hearing and learning harmony easier. This can take some real work and a lot of practice to develop a knack for finding harmony notes in a musical piece.

Take a piece of square dance music and play it on a laptop and find the melody on the piano. See if you can find the simple chord structure of the song. This takes both time and practice and some knowledge of song structure and composition. If you are ambitious enough, you will learn to play either the guitar or piano, or a little of both. These instruments allow you to see and hear chords and make it much easier to get a grasp on harmony parts. Over time you will develop and improve on finding notes that are not the melody, yet they are notes that work with the song. These either turn out to be alternate melodies or actual harmony parts. There is a difference and this all is something that you can develop as your ear becomes better at hearing music in a more analytical manner. I like to think of most harmonies as a second melody structure within the composition of the song.

I personally recommend that you spend a lot of time a little at a time to learn how to sing in harmony. It will take quite a bit of effort to learn this skill. Once you are comfortable with singing with a recorded version of yourself then find someone you can practice with in singing your harmony parts with. With singing calls you only have to learn the harmony to match the tag lines (mostly 16 beat taglines) to sing with someone else.

Practicing with someone else is a lot harder than singing harmony with yourself and sometimes it is very hard to hear your part when you are singing on a stage. Once again, this may take some practice until you can “hear” your part in the music. What can happen is the loudness of the music coming out of the speaker may drown out your ability to hear your part. One trick to overcome this problem is to insert your finger in one ear to improve your ability to hear your own voice in a situation where you cannot hear yourself clearly. This can be a great aid to you in singing with other square dance callers on stage.

Finally, remember it is much more important as a modern western square dance caller that you call great interesting choreography and that you work on your “lead vocal” singing, as this is much more important than the ability to sing harmony when square dance calling .

Good luck in your square dance endeavors!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

 

Square Dance Calling: Using Unique Singing Call Figures On The Easy Side

I am always creating different square dance calls that keep the interest high so that the dancers do not know what to expect a good amount of the time. This is really important to me, being a local Colorado square dance caller, that I call an interesting and fun dance wherever I might be. Striving to call more interesting square dancing figure combinations allows for more fun for dancing and in the long run this makes everyone out there stronger and better square dancers on the floor by providing different “twists” on what they already know or are used to.

Here is a pair of simple sequences that put together a few “traditional” combinations but these are different enough that it is interesting for the dancers. Both provide a different twist on what is normal choreography:

CALLING TIP! Ask the president or contact of the club you are going to call for how strong the dancers abilities are at the time you book the dance and make a note of it well in advance in your planner.

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Sides (Heads) Rollaway
Dosido
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Pass Thru
Wheel & Deal
Double Pass Thru
Leaders Partner Trade
Swing corner & Promenade Home

Or…you can try this sequence too:

Heads (Sides) Square Thru
Sides (Heads) Rollaway
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Right and Left Thru
Pass Thru
Wheel & Deal
Centers Square Thru Three Hands
Swing corner & Promenade Home

Both of these figures use “Rollaway a Half Sashay” and make for great practice in classes, as well. Try these with slower to medium tempo songs and they will work best for you.

Talk to you soon!

Consider square dancing at your company’s group events or parties and you can add a personal touch for everyone that is unique and fun. Make sure you schedule a modern western square dance caller who will provide a ton of fun and high energy entertainment that you will enjoy! Square dance as a party event can be a lot of fun for all and a different and a really memorable way to celebrate a gathering!

As an activity, square dancing is a fantastic and fun activity to participate in, and there are many great opportunities to establish really great social contacts once you are in a local square dance club! A social activity that you can get exercise and enjoy all types of music and meet all kinds of people!

Call for more information or if you have a question or you need to find out where you can go to a square dance class in your area, whether you are in the state of Colorado, or you are located elsewhere nationally!

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

Square Dance Calling: How Modules Are Used Effectively

In order to be a square dance caller, providing great and interesting choreography can be a challenge at times. If the combinations of calls are too difficult, the majority of the dance floor can break down and be left standing. If the choreography is too simple, then the dance is uninteresting and no one will remember the dancing steps as being imaginative and fun. In the end, fun is the key to calling great dances, and great choreography is a huge part of the big picture.

There are many choreographic methods to call to a group of dancers. One way is a caller can use strict memorization. Another is extemporaneous “sight” calling, which is making call combinations on the fly, so to speak, as the dancers execute the commands. And another form of calling is memorization that infuses memorized combinations that move dancers around systematically.  This is referred to as modular calling .

Modular calling, or square dance calling using modules, is a useful method because it allows both variety and control. The variety in the choreography is planned ahead by using a known set of calls that were written and usually memorized by the caller prior to the dance, and the control is in by doing so, knowing that the combinations resolve to a known formation that usually is an in-sequence set of dancers with original partners. The caller does not have to depend upon the dancers to stay in sequence to resolve the entire dance floor as in “sight calling,” and once again, I stress the control is that the caller knows the ending result of the set of calls that are given and thereby can call more smoothly and confidently and not have to worry about resolving the squares.

Additionally, with this control, if you are the square dance caller then you can make judgments about whether to give another module or continue on with a “get out” if it is needed at that particular moment.

Modules either work as “setup” modules,” zero” type modules, “transitional” modules, “equivalent” modules, or “get out” type sequences, and this last type could be referred to as “resolving” modules.

A Set up module usually starts with a static square or a circle of dancers. The goal is to call a sequence that will set up another established formation by which the next module can be implemented. “Head Couples Square Thru 4 Hands.”  This moves the dancers from a Static Square setup to a Zero Box (Box 1-4).

A Zero module is accomplished by using memorized sequences of calls that start in a specific set-up, such as a “zero box” (ending set-up after Heads Square Thru) and ending in a zero box at the end of the sequence. Zero type modules will move the dancers around and bring them right back to where they started.

A Transitional module can bring the dancers from an established set-up such as a “Zero Box” to a “Zero Line” or a “Zero Line” to a “Zero Wave.” I consider a normal right hand ocean ocean wave with partner in hand to be a Zero Wave because the dancers are in sequence with everyone else in the square and quick resolution on a get out is very accessible. Transitions change formations and in almost all cases cannot be called twice in a row such as the Zero Module can be.

An Equivalent module is a short or long set of calls that can be used to replace one specific call in another module set.  This is a way to substitute that one call in a module, as an example, the call “Right and Left Thru” with a sequence like “Swing Thru, Spin the Top, Recycle, Sweep a Quarter.” This provides more interest from a dancer’s perspective and as an added benefit it increases the length of the module that it is plugged into. The end result of the  equivalent is the same as the call it replaces.

A Get out module, or Resolving module, is a transitional module that will take the dancers to either an “Allemande Left,” “Right and Left Grand,” or a squared set in which all the couples are paired as started at the beginning of the tip with all couples in sequence (a “squared set”).

Modules are very useful and can be a very powerful choreographic tool when calling a dance. I recommend that you write some modules of your own and experiment with combining module types, both in your head, on paper, and of course, on the dance floor!

I will take a closer look at these types of modules and more dancing examples of these figures and using them together in other posts.

Talk to you soon!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

 

Colorado Modern Western Square Dance Caller Doing FISH Dance

On Thursday May 7, 2015 the luck will be with all the fishermen and square dancers! At the Rockytops Denver Colorado square dance club there will be a donation dance to benefit the Broomfield FISH Food Bank with a donation taken from all dancers that attend the event.

This will be a very fun event with lots of themed plans for food and fun worked into the program! Looking forward to lots of great square dancing, as well!
And this is a great way to donate to a cause that needs all the local support it can get! And there is one fantastic side benefit to being involved in a “benefit” type of dance. It benefits YOU, because you get to enjoy feeling good about yourself in helping others.
Here is the flyer (click on it to enlarge):

Colorado Rockytops Square Dance Fisherman's Luck Promo Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION on preferred food items to donate at this dance go to

Healthy Food List:
http://broomfieldfish.org/1163-2/

Hope to see you at what promises to be a great local Denver square dance event ! If you have a question, feel free to call me!

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735