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.


Square Dance Calling Made Easier: Six Tricks You Should Know!

Strong Focus with a Square Dance Educator and a Smart Practice Regimen Can Propel Your Square Dance Calling to New Heights

1.  Start With a Strong Mindset and a Song or Two…

A strong focus is necessary to achieving anything in life. For square dance calling a strong will to improve will carry you far. With the right frame of mind, you can corral together your mental strengths and work on removing your weaknesses.  Performance of square dance calling takes a lot of focus to become proficient. Only then can you succeed on a higher scale than you are currently at. Take your enthusiasm and energy and launch things off with the purchase of a couple of good, solid songs with a simple melody and a strong and driving back beat. As a new caller, you will have a tendency to buy more square dance music than you initially need.

Remember your repertoire needs to only be what you can physically call in an evening. For a start, music you use right now is a path to reaching a higher plateau in your abilities, so pick that enthusiasm and make some goals!

2.  Goal Setting…

Start your improvement with goals. Make time in your daily schedule that you can get focused on calling and use that practice to boost your knowledge and vocal improvement and really make it rewarding. There’s no absolutely right manner to approach many things in life, but with set goals at least you are on track  – starting with learning the proper way to deliver calls in time, writing strong choreography that the dancers will like, strengthening your vocal performance, selecting powerful songs in your program, all of these areas need to have goals in place and a schedule focused on how to reach the plateau that you are striving for.

In other words, use a structure that aims your practice with your end goal – to basically improve your calling on an attainable and effective scale. So make reasonable goals. Goals will drive your improvement.

Related:  My Time Log Calling Practice Sheets

3.  Analyze and Improve

After you have goals, you need to analyze your current abilities and your weaknesses and objectively learn how to improve from that analysis. If you can commit to a daily practice session take time to analyze your regimen and the details of what you practice.

You should make notes about what to work on to improve and strengthen your ability. Study square dance choreography and make it something that you take an analysis on in terms of dancing – good flow and mental difficulty – and spend time studying regularly. Just taking the effort to step into analyzing the things you do will provide you the stepping stones to improve and it will at the same time prevent you from making the habitual mistakes you most likely are continually falling into doing far too often (the rut trap).

Related:  Master Square Dance Calling

Analyze what you want to accomplish, practice it. Practice your program and then analyze it.  It’s one of the very best ways to reach that place of being professional and experienced and relaxed and ready!

4.  Practice Schedule

Being fluent in anything takes hard work and practice. Your performance of square dance songs on a highly proficient level will take some time. Set aside a regular time slot to work on your practice sessions. Decide on how much time you can realistically afford to invest in improvement. It is absolutely essential that you do this to reach the goals that you have set. Even without the consideration of setting goals, you need to always strive to find a new way to provide interest and pump up the energy in your performance. With goals, all that is needed is discipline to become proficient. If you falter in maintaining your practice schedule, you will sacrifice reaching any plateau that you want to accomplish. Long term gains depend upon being consistent.

For instance, if you want to become a better traditional style square dance caller, study some old choreography figures and then add those ideas to your well of your square dance calling ideas yourself. Historic and traditional square dancing makes for a strong background for all of square dancing and you can draw from that heritage for ideas that you can always use in innovative ways. Call with devotion and reap the rewards. When you’re focused on your practice and improvement the whole learning routine becomes easy and exciting on a personal level.

5.  Study the Art of Calling a Square Dance

Callers in the past have created a legacy and a creative library to draw from for new ideas. It is important to realize that you can take ideas and apply them to your style that you are working to develop. From the traditional square dance masters in the beginning of square dance to modern day square dance artists in the art of square dance calling, learn and then use those ideas to advance. In order to improve yourself as a caller you must never stop being committed. Follow through with your plan and this is how you can improve by adding new ideas and variations on the original called ideas from yesteryear and you will come closer to moving forward.

Look at other callers and what they do. Both good and bad things. You can learn from their strengths and weaknesses in their technique, program and developed abilities. Analyze them and then take a look at yourself and fill in the wholes that will make you a stronger and more effective caller.

6.  Education in Square Dance Resources

Weaknesses are usually based upon lack of skill and knowledge. Valid and reliable opinions about how to improve can be applied to how you approach your square dance calling improvement situation. Any feedback you receive needs to be smart and honestly supportive and helpful.

Opinions on this scale are constructive, and sometimes a bad opinion can adversely put down a newer caller. Getting any feedback on your calling should come from a caller coach who can direct you in the most effective areas of improving in many areas such as selecting music, writing choreography, learning to entertain, or even overcoming obstacles such as weak teaching habits with new dancers. This is when you can get focused on improvement approaches.

Keep in mind that everyone’s approach is going to be a little different, and so is their motivation. But the discipline of working in a disciplined practice regimen with the guidance of a square dance caller coach can elevate your improvement on a much higher scale! Stay focused and be committed to learning in areas that you want to advance in.

Related:  Square Dance Calling School

This article is not a “one size fits all” guideline. Every caller will need to practice in tune with their individual set of goals, and many will need to practice in vastly different ways to achieve their ultimate end-goal: mastery of calling.

Contact me for any help in square dance caller training. Smart habits, directed goals and doing the right things to get you what you want to learn will only lead to better square dance calling for the entire activity to enjoy!

Best Regards,

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 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.

Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

Mechanics of Square Dance Singing Calls

History of the Singing Call

Looking back at the history of square dancing music, the singing call became an evolved and progressive outtake that stemmed from traditional dance. This initially started with the “dance masters” during the early days of colonization along the Eastern seaboard cities and as new popular songs were composed, dance figures were composed and adapted to fit a set of choreographic moves that were appropriate to the music.

This was a genius move on the behalf of the dance masters, leading to many dance tunes that were taught to the local folk. These sets of dance moves and figures were often specific only to a particular song. The choreography had to be learned and memorized by the townspeople so they could perform the moves at their social gathering celebrating in grand festive dance.

Compositions changed and progressed continually as the decades passed, and the singing call came to be a huge part of square dance as singing pop ditties became more and more popular over time.

Most people do not realize that the actual choreography is equally as important as the music itself. And the timing in beats that comprise the structure of the dance song is unique only to square dance music.

Structure of the Square Dance Singing Call Song

Practically all modern western singing calls have a structure that has been the same for decades with the deep roots described above. The basis of the original song structure in some form mostly resembles the melodic and rhythmic nuts and bolts of the original parent song that was recorded and loved by everyone in the popular world of music. After the square dance explosion post WWII, the evolution of modern music has set the pace for change in square dance and this is symbolized and is embodied most through singing calls.

The format developed from the need for a progression of dancers within the square restricted by an allotment of time of a typical song – 3 to 4 minutes long. This simple structure is repeated seven times throughout the song at 64 beats each. There is an introduction of the song, then there is the often identical set of melodic phrases that add up to the repeating seven figures that comprise the body of the singing call, and then there is an ending to resolve the song’s “musical story,” so to speak.

Here is an outline of the anatomy of a singing call:


The 1st sequence is the INTRODUCTION, which brings the dancers back to their original partner.
The 2nd and 3rd sequence are sequences that are called a FIGURE, which the caller instructs the choreography to change partners by a counter-clockwise rotation that progresses the Ladies to the Next man to her right, the new “Corner” and takes the Ladies around the square.
The 4th sequence is the MIDDLE (BREAK) FIGURE, which is often the same as the opener.
The 5th and 6th sequences are again the rotating Partner FIGURE which continues to progress the dancers by Singing and Promenading a new Partner around the square.
The 7th sequence is the CLOSING FIGURE which is often the same as the opener and middle break.

The SONG INTRODUCTION and SONG ENDING – the musical beginning of the song and the conclusion of the song. The beats can vary from song to song for any intro and any ending. Caller cues might be delivered during the introduction beats of music such as the ever popular “Circle Left.” It is typical to conclude a singing call with a Partner Swing or Eight and Back or even a Bow to the Partner ending is sometimes appropriate.

Dancers change partners during the figure choreography which will be the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th sequences, and this is usually accomplished by progressing to the next Corner man for the Ladies. By doing this, all Men will Swing and Promenade with all Ladies by the song’s end. Dancers remain with their current partner during the 1st, 4th and 7th musical sequences.

Pointers For Calling a Singing Call

The presentation of square dance calls (choreography) is the most important part of the singing call for the dancers. All callers should study the commands as they relate to the music so that they understand where to deliver the calls for the singing call. The delivery of the calls in relation to the music is crucial to making the song a vocal performance. One thing that should always be kept in mind about vocal delivery on singing calls: sometimes the timing is too late, or even too early, in the actual delivery of the  calls in relation to dancing of the choreography with the music.

Related:  Entertainment Pointers For Callers

As a caller, think about recording your performance and dancing with the music to ensure that the choreography is delivered early enough for the dancers to execute comfortably. Make some notes so that you will remember the areas that you might have to deliver the calls early.

Using the “Cue” Delivery of Calls

Most times the caller will sing the actual melody in the form of square dance calls as they need to give those commands. Sometimes this implementation does not work and the need for simply delivering the calls in a spoken tone of voice in time with the music is a better approach to take. If a newer caller is attempting to learn the singing call by listening and mimicking the recorded performance by the featured singer on the vocal portion of a singing call, they might be learning timing that is not fitting for the dancers to dance to. Practice your timing and check it by dancing the recorded snippets of sequences and always watch the dance floor closely while you are calling “live.”

Related  Using Directional Words When Calling

Lyrics and musical phrases do not always synchronate with the timing needed to perform a particular call, or even an entire sequence. Study the music, dance to your calls on a recorded practice session, and determine if changes to places within the song are needed. Many callers will work through several edits of a sequence to make it so it can become a better and more danceable performance.

Build a Repertioure of Singing Calls

Over time, with experience and practice, callers can build a solid and diverse singing call catalog of songs that they can draw from. Another thing that will happen over time is the improvement of delivery of calls and the dynamics of performing a singing call optimally. Study your program as a caller and expand your singing call ability and song repertioure so that you are a prolific and popular caller in your area.

Related:  How To Practice Square Dance Calling

Beginning callers almost always begin by learning a singing call and performing it at a club dance for the first time. By working with a caller coach, they can learn how to take those first singing calls and expand that into learning to be a well-rounded and highly experienced square dance caller.

I can provide guidance to help any new caller understand the mastery of singing calls and the importance of delivering commands effectively.

Feel free to call me at any time. I would be glad to help!

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 education, training, 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

Expectations in Square Dancing?

What do you think is expected from you as the square dance caller at a dance? Probably a lot more than you had initially realized. What do you expect of yourself as a caller, too? Expectations in square dancing completely set the bar for everything a square dance caller needs to stay focused on. So ponder upon some of the following ideas:

The Dancer’s Viewpoint

Reflecting upon a dancer’s perspective, expectations of you, as a caller, is someone who is perceived as knowing how to entertain with personality, showmanship, calling skills, and even humor. These also are some of the main ingredients to making a dance memorable. I like to think of myself as a successful entertainer with tons of hours of entertaining under his belt. I also have learned a lot about being a showman and how to respect my audience – in delivering interesting choreography, making engaging moments with the dancers, and always staying focused on delivering a professional performance. These are all virtues that every caller should strive for and every dancer expects these kinds of qualities at every dance they attend.

Being Organized and Focused

Based on the dancer’s needs, expectations and circumstances they will give you recommendations to other clubs. If you are dealing with an organizer of a special event, the same goes for that contact and the possibility of a referral. Remember that you, as an entertainer, handle all the preparations regarding negotiations, contracts and all other details with the club or event planner for the square dance event. In order for the total overall successful accomplishment of the event from start to finish you will have to be fully prepared. Spend time on your program, choreography, polishing up your performances and repertoire of songs.

Setting a Starting Point

Meeting expectations involves two things – motivation and choice – if you expect something that you want to happen, then you will choose the particular goals and activities to best achieve what you want as a successful outcome. This is so true of anyone who is a student caller looking for sources of motivation and choosing what to do (or not do) in their pursuit of advancing their square dance calling proficiency, and eventually, mastery and success in reaching their intended result. Set goals and focus on exceeding them. Like making your weak choreographic ideas stronger and your overall program better and more engaging.

Square Dance Caller Coach

The square dance coach’s overall role is to promote the growth and development of the beginning student caller and to improve learning and advancement of calling abilities and proficiency. When a new coach is hired, they will give a full study program and will be expected to impact learning in an extreme and effective manner at the very start, thereby initiating a period of apprenticeship for the new square dance caller student to benefit from. A really great coach will not only be knowledgeable, they will understand the expectations of the student within that new caller’s perspective.

Expect Some Self Reflection…

So set aside the program and the choreography for a minute and spend a little time thinking about the dancer’s expectations. Your expectations. If you are learning to call, what your square dance caller coach’s expectations are of you. Focus on your role and meet those expectations by being prepared to EXCEED all of those expectations.

Then you will develop stronger relations with everyone you deal with in the square dance realm, everyday!

Your end goal as a square dance caller is to always exceed dancer’s expectations, deliver a memorable and entertaining dance and make the persons who hired you look like a bunch of winners.

Best Regards,

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 calling education training 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.




6 Keys to Becoming a Master of Square Dance Calling

Six Ways to Achieve Square Dance Calling Proficiency

I believe there would be little argument that there is a right way to learn something and there is a wrong way. If you strive to be more accomplished and successful then what do you focus on?  Actually, that is not audaciously ambitious enough — want to be the very best? Who doesn’t?

So here is the best advice I can give any modern western square dance caller. Many have said that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything, but truthfully, if you align your practice and learning with the way your brain is naturally wired to learn, combine that with some good sense, then you can be more proficient in your learning and improvement approach. The time you spend is crucial, yet you can get to square dance mastery faster — much faster — by practicing the correct and effective way. You can accomplish this by following these seven steps:

1) Push Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone

It has been proven that everyone learns best when they are pushing their limits. Stretching your abilities and boundaries of difficulty is a key component to maximizing your learning threshold. Step outside of your comfort zone. Make it hard. When a person struggles with something is when advancement will happen. When you struggle, this is when you will see more improvement. The more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the faster you can improve and learn anything.

Strive to spend a very high quality ten minutes practicing a new choreography figure than practicing a mediocre overused figure. By doing this, you learn something new that is more on the edge of your ability, and now you have added to your arsenal a new and more interesting choreographic sequence for your dance group. You want to practice your calling where you are on the edge of your capability and you make mistakes, failing in your timing and presentation, and then realizing those mistakes and correcting them.

More on the best way for you to practice here.

2) Maximize Your Uncomfortable Success Rate

You want to be successful only 60 to 80 percent of the time when training to be a better caller. That’s a maximized sweet spot for improvement in almost anything.
This is why and what typically happens:

When learning is too hard, many will quit. When something is too easy….then we often quit then, too.

Because of this paradigm, always strive to stay in that 60 to 80 percent zone. Make it a challenge. If you learn too little and everything you learn is too easy, then you definitely are not pushing your capabilities. If you are not succeeding much then change things by easing up a little bit because flailing is not good, either.  Are you succeeding 90 percent of the time? That’s too easy. You want to constantly be pushing, all the while adjusting the environment for improvement so that you’re succeeding 60 to 80 percent of the time.

One quick thing about practice. Do not ever overpractice. You will harm your vocal chords and then you will have to rest them for a while, perhaps as long as a month to 2 months, if you strain your voice. Just make sure that you are consistently pushing other elements of the square dance calling craft that you can improve on without overdriving your vocal chords, like studying choreography. Which brings us to the next guideline for mastery.

3) Set Time For Study Then Followed By Effective Execution

Think about improving as a pie cut into thirds. Cut a third of a piece for studying and learning choreography. The other two-thirds of your pie is the time you want to be actually calling. Practicing. Pushing yourself.

So get your focus on two-thirds practice time. Study only what you need to. Whatever it is you want to learn for the week,reach for being the best at it, be doing it. The closer your practice is to the real thing, calling at an actual dance , the faster you learn to master square dance calling. Your improvement will evolve by doing things like focused and hard practice, not by hearing, reading or talking about how to call.

It’s much better to spend about two thirds of your time analyzing and testing yourself in a practice session rather than spending lots of time absorbing and studying . Many situations will force the average caller to adapt to the situation anyway. Dancing levels are different not only at every dance, but sometimes even by every tip danced. You will need to be ready to adapt your program and your choreography and by using the rule of two thirds. If you want to, say, memorize a bunch of choreography, you would be better off focusing the other two-thirds of your time working on practicing calling the choreography and the mechanics and the creative possibilities that you might have to change at a moment’s notice at a dance. I recommend that you spend more time testing yourself on choreographic knowledge than memorization.

4) Find a Role Model Square Dance Caller

Really watching the best do what they excel at is one of the most powerful things you can do to reach mastery at just about anything. Learning by watching is motivational, inspirational and it is how we have learned since the dawn of modern man. Man is built to learn. By studying the best in the art of square dance calling, then we will strive more and concentrate and focus to be the best in performance, programming, and overall better in every way.

When we watch someone we want to become and be like and we have a really intensely centered idea of where we want to be, it unleashes a tremendous amount of energy that is creative and inspirational. It sounds very basic, but spending time studying every word that a great square dance caller presents in a night’s dance can be one of the most powerful things you do.

5) Create Yourself a Caller’s Notebook

Many famous persons throughout history have kept a diary or journal to propel their studies and improvement. Today, top performers in many walks of life will track their progress, set goals for improvement, and learn from and improve by using a simple tracking tool like a notebook.

Keep two notebooks. One for your practice and performance and another with choreography that you are learning or need reference to. The road to improvement requires a map or two, and keeping a couple of notebooks that you can write down what you accomplished this week and/or what you tried to do, where you made mistakes and what things you displayed notable improvement in is important to advancing your skills. Use a notebook to capture and record information. Use it to track your progress. The power of the notebook is underrated and underused and I could not imagine not using this extremely helpful tool.

6) Attend a Square Dance Calling School

There are many benefits in studying at a caller school. Learning and improvement will boost your confidence and lead to eventual mastery. Education is the process of facilitating learning. Knowledge, skills, good practice techniques, and positive habits of a group of callers are transmitted to other people looking to learn how to square dance call.

Discussion, teaching, training, getting positive feedback and coaching leads to a better method of improvement and it helps you boost your own overall personal development. Overall, attendance at a top square dance caller school and acquiring a certified education will have a positive and powerful impact upon your ability and carry you to a  higher level on your way to mastery. Learn proficiency, professionalism, and learn how to be more musical. Learn how to be an entertainer! Learn how to be a choreographer. Learn how to package yourself as a competent and confident and experienced and knowledgeable caller!

Commit to Achieving Square Dance Caller Mastery

Everything in life requires a commitment. To what extent you go to is the difference. Skill and commitment have a tied relationship. The more committed anyone is to something then this leads to so much higher levels in success and proficiency, and this is the difference.

Merely committing to the long haul will have huge effects. Committing to practice and study can push abilities off the charts, and that is the difference maker. It takes time to master square dance calling, and that commitment combined with the right temperament will always advance you to a higher place supported by all of the above concentrated activities. This correct combination will make all of the hard work and focus worthwhile. You can push your capabilities off the charts. Commit to the long haul.

Don’t give up.

Reach. Get out on the edge of your ability. Get into your 60-80 percent discomfort zone and reach past that.

Sadly, none of us were born as an expert at anything. But you can become one with practice and time. Expect to spend a few years of hard work to reach a level of mastery in square dance calling. Start now. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Have a Great Day! Contact me if you have a question about square dance calling!

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.

Challenge: Transcend Your Square Dance Calling Hurdles

Some — if not all — methods of square dance calling offer different ways to move your calling forward, however, there are built-in restrictions, walls beyond which we cannot easily move through. Whether it’s the fixed number of beats that make up a singing call, the rules of tonal harmony when you are singing, or the need for better calling equipment, we often think of these as obstacles to creativity.

We always deal with limitations or restrictions, even if they are put upon ourselves, and this can be a big challenge for an artist, any artist, even if you’re a modern western square dance caller. I do not like being told that you can’t use that fast music, or you can’t step out of this box, or you can’t use a certain creative idea on a square dance call. What I do like is the creative tension that is brought on by this limitation and how to rise above that.

For this month’s square dance calling challenge, remember and write down on a piece of paper about a time when you had to deal with an obstacle in your calling, whether it was a choreography problem, a timing problem, or perhaps a teaching obstacle you had to confront in the past at a dance, workshop, or class. Did you manage to transcend the obstacle, or did you ignore dealing with it?

Of higher importance, did you find a solution that brought you to a higher place or initialized an improvement in your calling? What did you learn about yourself and your ability in the process?

Now take that one thing and look for a way to springboard and improve that for yourself. If you need a challenge and you cannot think of one, try this:

I offer these excellent tips on this square dance caller website for other callers to improve. And, since I’m a seasoned square dance caller coach, these informative articles are all beneficial points for me to offer to others to get started and they can serve as a calling roadmap to becoming a seasoned square dance caller. It’s fun learning, but without the proper direction and guidance, it can be difficult to improve and advance yourself in some ways.

Hurdles in life will force us to first create a goal, then focus upon it, and ultimately succeed.

Be free. Expand your horizons and dare to go where you have not set foot before. Be creative and strive to call better. Put together a formula for succeeding and you will.

Have a great day. Call if you need square dance caller instruction or any general question about calling!

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 caller education training 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.

Methods to Advance Your Square Dance Calling Ability

Since it is National Square Dance Month, I thought it seemed like a great idea to make a list of ideas that might inspire you and would improve your calling skills and allow you to sharpen your axe and head for the square dancing woodshed. The following square dance caller education tips are some great ways to implement various methods and practice habits to make your square dance calling more proficient. As with most things that require practice, a “little at a time a lot of the time” is the best recommended approach:

  • Create a schedule for practice time
  • Create a structured dance program that you can call anywhere
  • Follow that program in practice sessions daily
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Practice without any music
  • Practice with music
  • Practice with a metronome or drum machine
  • Practice with another caller
  • Read caller articles and ideas and choreography from local and national resources
  • Take an oral “recitation test” of your memorized choreography as quickly as you can and record it
  • Meet with a local state and national square dance caller’s association
  • Take a voice lesson or two with a vocal coach
  • Learn to play a musical instrument
  • Participate in local state, regional and national square dance conventions for callers
  • Set a few minutes a day for moving checkers
  • Practice square dancing in your head
  • Go to a square dance
  • Take lessons from another square dance caller to advance yourself a dance level
  • Learn a new singing call each week and tape record it
  • Practice one patter tip 3 times with 3 different hoedowns that vary musically
  • Practice sight calling “mental image”
  • Combine memorized modules and then force yourself to change the setups and get outs 3 different times
  • Attend a caller’s school or seminar
  • Have a dancer evaluate your calling
  • Try calling a tip without any music, record it and critique it (without any music)
  • Record a practice tip and critique it
  • Have a square dance caller evaluate your calling
  • Purchase a few new square dance calling releases
  • Attend a class for beginners in music at your local community college
  • Enlist a “mentor” or square dance caller coach to help you who is experienced and knowledgeable
  • Listen to other callers and take 2 important ideas/approaches and apply that to your calling
  • Recruit a square of friendly and enthusiastic dancers to allow you to practice your calling upon from time to time

I believe that anyone can learn to square dance call if they work at it. There are so many different niches in the activity, whether you are looking to call square dance parties locally, the Advanced and Challenge square dance levels, or perform on a national scale.

Call Shaun Werkele at 303-250-4735 if you have any questions, or if you need any suggestions on how to get started in learning to square dance call!

Have a great day!




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 caller 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.