Practicing Guidelines For Modern Western Square Dance Callers

It might be hard to believe, but in a month or two you will have to practice in a different way because your ability to square dance call will have changed…and every modern western square dancer who attends your dances will have changed their abilities and adapted to your style of delivery. Even the basic choreographic figures that you call. The same goes with songs you use if you call to that group or club regularly. For these reasons, a rigid and tired set practice session with the same ol’ songs will not push you to improve as much as you need to be pushed… the same stagnant schedules that are not specific to you and practicing that way will not take you further.

And this is why. Square dance callers need to create a routine that is big enough to include all items that they need to practice in order to reach both their short and long term goals. Not just the half dozen singing calls that they use far too often and generally overpractice and overperform.

To do this effectively, you will need to know how to distribute each of those many practice items across many days. In other words, do not create a one – day schedule that you repeat each day, but instead a 5-10 day schedule that is effective, flexible and correctly distributes those items over several days for maximum results.

Related:  MY TIME LOG For Callers

As a caller at any level of ability, you need to track every minute of every song that you practice in a log. This is important for many reasons. The most obvious one of these reasons is to track your progress. Another reason is to observe any songs or choreography figures that you may have missed (or not completed) practicing on a previous day or even during your week of practice sessions. By doing things this way, you will always know the exact things you are neglecting and then you can go back to those specific things that you missed and practice them. Both are critical contributors to your overall calling improvement and success.

Practice Smarter…Not Harder!

On another note, do not assume that the more you have a song or choreography figure mastered (in your opinion), the less you need to practice such items in your song repertioure. Set aside some time in your logged time for practicing so that you can maintain a strong ability set for everything you might have to call. Further, learn how to accurately and consistently KNOW how your various skill levels (for each particular choreographic figure you need to practice) needs to best AFFECT how often each figure should be practiced. Ultimately, your skill level at this particular time for each practice session should be directly determined by, as an example, how much time each day that specific timing phrase for a figure needs to be practiced. Check the MY TIME LOG to see how long you should set time aside for practicing timing.

Related:  Understanding Timing and Musical Phrasing

Know how to correctly and effectively balance your personal urgency in wanting to improve on something new (like a new singing call) and your quest to achieve your long term goals. A singing call which you feel is urgent for you to master may be part of your short term goals. Most of the time you just need to be patient and follow the outlines in MY TIME LOG and make it a twice practiced through item and it will really be a part of your long term goals by way of your practice of material. Depending upon how often you add the song to your practice regimen, it potentially may be part of both, or neither. So in each of these cases you might need to create a song and choreography schedule differently for that particular need.

Understand Your Limits and Use That Knowledge to Succeed

Understand what you can capably call and use that to develop ideas to improve. Learn to fully understand the different separate strategies to reach short and long term goals through your practice time when you work through your practice routine. Then build your choreography ideas and your ability to sing and entertain to implement those different strategies for each item on your schedule as it pertains to each type of goal you have.

Adapt As You Improve

As time goes on, you will have to make changes to your catalog of songs and add new choreographic figures to meet the interests of the dancers. There are a couple of reasons why you need to update your ways of studying, writing choreography, singing songs that will need to be changed in your program.  Strive to fully understand the different ways you have to adapt to your practice needs.

Why? Because your skill level and overall your square dance calling goals and challenges will naturally evolve as you improve as an entertainer and choreographer. Simply, what and how you practiced last month will NOT be the most effective approach for you to practice this month.

Your practice routines must change as your calling changes, each time taking into full account the above mentioned factors that affect how you call.

Maximize Your Practice Time

One thing that helps a lot with efficiently used practice time that goes hand-in-hand with the MY TIME LOG program is to time your practice session in segments. After you’ve created your new calling practice routine, it is important to use some kind of automated timer, such as an egg timer, that will keep track of your practice time for each section of your practice routine. This will keep you moving forward and tell you when it is time to move on to the next part in your schedule.

Combining the MY TIME LOG and using an automated timer in this way will keep you on the edge of maximal improvement in the least amount of time!

Square Dance Caller Coach For Direction

Obviously, sorting it all out and figuring out how to correctly do everything you need to do to improve on a regular basis is extremely daunting and kind of overwhelming even if you have a LOT of experience as a square dance caller. Consider enlisting a caller coach to help you out in your quest to improve.

Related:  Master Your Square Dance Calling

You can access lots of great and useful information on my website and some of these articles will give you easy-to-follow step by step instructions to get you started on the road to improvement right away. If you have not checked any of them out, please take some time to do so.
OK, so now it’s up to you… You can make a huge positive change in your square dance calling ability… or you can do things the same way you’ve always done it – keep struggling, remain stagnant in your practice habits as you hope that some day something might turn for you.

Call me at any time you have a question, I would be glad to help you out!

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 coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller training, 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.


One thought on “Practicing Guidelines For Modern Western Square Dance Callers

  1. Pingback: Square Dance Caller Goals For 2018 | Square Dance Caller Shaun Werkele August Records

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