Original and Effective Program Launched For Square Dance Callers: MY TIME LOG
Lots of modern western square dance callers have problems with slow progress and little improvement over years of calling. Making significant progress is a huge hang up that many ordinary people can get stuck in, not even considering the complexity of square dance calling.
It is a musical art that requires a discipline and a structure to advance in overall abilities and development. Many newer callers unnecessarily struggle with their calling. Why? Because they work at improvement ineffectively. They practice inefficiently. And they are not organized in how they pursue their advancement.
So what I have done is to put together a simple and focused regimen for callers with a highly structured schedule that maximizes efficiency and plans out your practice session for you. This combines several areas for necessary improvement. Timing, choreography writing, song programming, and effective practice sessions all are combined and controlled with two very basic worksheets that I have created aimed at forcing good discipline and making improvement easily attainable. The program is a daily practice schedule that makes it usable for everyone at whatever skill level they call at, whatever needs they might have, or even whatever square dance program they need to put together. Go here to get the program sheets. It is free for all! MY TIME LOG:
Total and overall improvement and ultimately, mastery, all come from breaking the rut and practicing in a way that is different every time you turn on your equipment and practice. Every time you practice it should be totally different from the time before. Many people think that practice is the same things over and over until they “have it down,” But this is only partially true.
Generally, you should NOT practice the same things everyday. You will not improve on the level that is optimal for advancement of overall ability. Think about a session musician. Everyday they are hired to play a musical part on a song differently! Every time. That is the job!
Besides, practicing the same songs over and over is boring and you develop bad habits of doing the same thing over and over. This is not good, either! Strive for a general rule of practicing smarter, not harder, and watch and see what happens!
Related: 25 Alive Choreographic Challenge!
The MY TIME LOG program (it is free!) requires that you change songs daily. You change the program daily on figures for those singing calls practiced. You will use different choreography on hoedowns daily. Timing, which is taken for granted by most, is worked on daily in this program. This is free so check it out on the page link above.
You can print these two daily MY TIME LOG worksheets off and use both to track your activities by checking the boxes as you practice. One other great thing about this practice schedule is it forces you to use other songs than you normally practice and more songs and different figures and more figures that push you into new rehearsing territory. Especially the music because the songs change EVERYDAY!
And you will record yourself in your practice session everyday. And you will see improvement, I promise you will!
If you cannot or do not feel that you can do this then attempt to change at least one song a day and record the performance on a tape and save and review and compare the performances at the end of the week. You still should ALWAYS record your practice sessions and critically review them for improvement. That is the main point of practicing singing calls twice in a practice session.
After the first time through the song you should listen to the recording you have made and then see where you want to improve upon your first performance. Look for things that you want to improve upon, target them, then practice and record the song a second time and see if you improved. Be critical, ask for other people’s feedback and take their input and apply it so that you indeed see notable improvement.
Back to explaining how MY TIME LOG works. MY TIME LOG is essentially a daily time log that will propel your improvement by 4 times as to not having a good plan in place. In other words, aimless and unorganized practice sessions. The flexibility and efficiency in your practice time, combined with more effective focus on what will truly improve your square dance calling ability is what this schedule will provide. This will guide you to a more successful path that is more focused. You will not be wasting time on things that are not directly related to your goals – better choreography, better command of calls, overall better performances. I can think of no better way to harness your time and energy in the most effective way possible.
Here are the areas of study and practice you will find on the free MY TIME LOG:
DAILY HOMEWORK FOR SQUARE DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY
PRACTICE 4 MINUTES—TIMING (2/4 DRUMBEAT) (THIS IS A WITHOUT MUSIC EXERCISE)
MICROPHONE (RECORDED) PRACTICE TIME SCHEDULE
SINGING CALL SONGS
(THE SONGS CHANGE DAILY)
“ONE THING” —
This is the part that WILL PUSH and foster improvement. A new figure always added to practice regimen at end of practice session that is either a hoedown choreographic figure or a new singing call figure.
The whole key to this structure is the rotation of choreography and the square dance songs that you use. As I mentioned before, they change daily.
You do not need to unnecessarily struggle if you are a new caller. And if you are an experienced caller then use this to pull yourself out of your rut. Overcome your roadblocks – to being able to call whatever you want to, perform a larger catalog of musical material, and transcend your choreographic limitations!
MY TIME LOG (DID I MENTION IT IS FREE?) YES, IT IS FREE! CHECK IT OUT!
Feel free to call me. I would be glad to help you out, whether you need coaching or just a pointer or two.
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.