Square Dance Calling: For the Love of the Star

Many individuals start their lives full of enthusiasm and somewhere along the way they give up. These people end up existing in a manner that is displayed by their daily actions of going through the motions and somewhere along the way they stopped believing in themselves and what they are truly capable of. This is so tragic when this happens. They stop striving for excellence and forget about their passions. They take for granted the love of others who care about them. They simply go through the everyday motions of existence. And it happens in all areas of life everywhere in the world.

As our world continues to change, square dancing also continues to evolve. As callers, we all need to evolve, too. In order to do this, all callers need to find new motivation to progress and focus on a way to make an impact and navigate a fresh path in a traditionally based activity such as square dancing. In order to facilitate this, there are many sources available for a modern western square dance caller available today and the possibilities for creativity have grown considerably from yesteryear. The truth is there are many more educational resources for square dance callers than twenty years ago. There are many more choices and styles of dance music that can be used to present a tapestry for square dancers to enjoy and not just square dance music created for square dance calling.

Weave in this rich tapestry an offering of musical diversity and you can take one of the core elements of square dance as an activity and usher in new dancers from many walks of life. For instance, presently, individuals have the opportunity to download a vast amount of music from a lots of different square dance song websites. This available variety allows for square dance callers to be creative in offering many different musical selections to their square dance audience.

Related: Selecting Square Dance Music

The key thing to keep in mind is all callers need to find musical selections that are suitable, entertaining, and in line with the age and enjoyment of the audience they are calling to. Along with this is the offering of music that connects with everyone on an emotional and social level. And then there is the quotient of what everyone will expect to hear as the traditional roots music of square dance. An audience will want to be all “countryfied” and they all pretty much expect it. So all callers should give their dancers music that is traditional in sound to satisfy expectations.

On the other hand, at the same time everyone should see what square dance music can be. And that it does not only encompass traditional country music and traditional square dance music. There are many facets of the musical gem that can be cut and the end result is diversity in different styles of music from rock and roll and dance and rap and older genres such as old-time swing standards. Balancing your program is a guaranteed path to success in offering fun, variety and an overall great impression of what square dancing really is.

Musical variety in tempos of music, types of music, and an entire night of fantastic songs will make everyone happy. Put some thought into how you want to pace your night of dance and implement that in your program. You can even practice in this manner when you are working on preparing for your square dance calling gigs.

Related: Programming Musical Variety in Square Dance

Whatever music you select, always ensure that the music is not too fast for comfortable dancing. A little quicker tempo song is fine one or twice in a night. People get tired if they move too fast for too long and then they do not want to get up and dance as the night progresses. Another pointer here is to be cautious in using music that has loud background vocals in the background of the song. Choose music that is not going to conflict with your being heard clearly delivering your commands. Background vocals on songs will definitely drown out your square dance calling to the music. So just avoid that situation for yourself.

Inspire a modern approach to square dance by providing some energy that will boost the entire activity and the fun can spread by word of mouth to any and all who would simply come out to enjoy a night of square dance at a birthday party, barbeque or a corporate gathering!

Best Wishes,

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this site 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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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

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 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.

Square Dance Caller: Five Unique Mainstream Get Outs

One way for square dance callers to advance in their abilities is to look for opportunities to collaborate in calling with other callers of all levels of proficiency at many different square dance events, whether that event is a local one, or a nationally recognized one.  Calling to learn skills is good, but you still need to practice on many different areas with a square dance caller teacher to become an accomplished caller.

Sources like posts on this square dance website that have been published very recently will provide many current outlooks and understandings of square dancing and its past. If you use additional sources that might have been published sometime in the last decade, it is important to know what changes have evolved in the activity and what criticisms have been made about the earlier information and its approach to the topic, whether that is choreography, square dance music, or even equipment. Nevertheless, the “modern approach” is going to be the most effective in improving the art of square dance calling.

Below are five unique Mainstream level square dance choreography get outs that I have composed for  modern western square dance and all of these figures offer powerful and solid choreographic combinations that resolve the order of dancers in the square. Using these kinds of get outs will add to your effectiveness as a square dance caller and the dancers will enjoy them as well:

Box 1-4
Swing Thru
Boys Run
Bend the Line
Right & Left Thru
Pass Thru
Tag the Line Face Right
Ferris Wheel
Right and Left Grand

Box 1-4:
Right & Left Thru
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Walk and Dodge
U Turn Back
Square Thru – on the Fourth Hand
Left Allemande

Box 1-4:
Right & Left Thru
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Walk & Dodge
Bend the Line
Left Allemande

1p-2p Lines:
Reverse Flutterwheel
Dixie Style to a Wave
Boys Circulate
Left Allemande

1p-2p Lines:
Pass the Ocean
Girls Run
Bend the Line
Touch a Quarter
All Eight Circulate
Girls Turn Around
Left Allemande

Call with any question you might have, I would be glad to help!

Shaun Werkele

303-250-4735

 

Shaun Werkele returned to square dancing in 2014. He works hard at bringing exciting square dance entertainment to parties and social events.  Shaun ensures that you and your guests experience a level of fun and dance that surpasses all! He is passionate about square dancing and about creating a one of a kind event that your guests will always remember.  Call for booking details  for 2016 today!

 

 
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.

Modern Musical Approaches For Square Dance Callers

Modern music is an audacious move for square dance callers. I do not mean that in a bad way. What I am saying is taking a more modern musical approach is a good way to being better at what you do.  Working at being different is the essence of audacity, to be bold, daring, and to add a little creative innovation to your way of doing things in regard to square dance.

In order for modern western square dance callers to step out and make changes in their programs in a normal night’s dance many will have to change a lot of the music that they have used normally. Perhaps some of these selections date back years from today. Take a look at your catalog of songs that you regularly use and assess all of those songs. Ask yourself, “How modern are all of these songs that I use?” and then ask yourself, “How many of these old music pieces can I put to rest and how many new musical pieces can I integrate into my normal program that I call?” This is a great starting point in the process of changing your square dance calling habits.

You might be asking yourself, why bother with changing the music that I use? There are several good reasons why. One is by changing up to modern music, you project a better, more modern image of the square dance activity. Second, couple that with the positive energy that you will induce upon yourself that will result in even more enthusiasm simply because you have compelled yourself to learn something new and different. There is no better way to tackle a new task than harnessing the forward momentum of learning something new.

There still is a place in the modern square dance activity for traditional square dance music, and I strongly feel that all square dance callers should fervently include the traditional styles of music in their night’s calling, as well. This is the root of the entire square dance movement, and there is a rich history and tradition that we should always salute and, for this important reason, keep a little of this in your program always.

Using modern style music, whether it is music based on today’s top forty music or techno-pop or hip-hop or electro dance, brings on the need for establishing some guidelines you might want to follow when you are going to use this type of music.

First, avoid distracting vocal music, it can be very hard to call over and the dancers will not hear your voice commands very well.  Things that can distract such as vocals, background instruments… these parts need to be removed in order to present a piece of music that can engage the dancers more and the non-dancing people watching will love hearing the updated changes in your music from what they had perceived years ago. Just about everyone who has not heard or seen a modern day square dance, whether at a regular dance or an exhibition, will be quite surprised at the changes in today’s square dance music that is being used by more and more callers all the time.

Second, by listening to any new musical piece over and over you will get a great feel for what you want to make editing on. Make a list of sections that you want to change. Save that new song variation as a new file and set it aside for a day or two. Go back and listen and see how your changes work in terms of smoothness and overall “danceability” and “callability.”  Another neat approach to creating new and original is to mash two different songs together, and come up with something totally new and fresh!

Third, try your new music on some dancers, preferably at a square dance class where you can get some feedback on your new music. Ask if the music seemed to flow and if they could hear you well enough. Dancer feedback on your calling is always a really good thing to receive. It keeps you in touch with the dancers and you have a much better idea about what they like and do not like about your calling. The sound, the kind of square dance music called to, the speed of the songs, and your calling technique, of course. These all are things you want feedback on. Make changes if you need to, that is why you get the feedback responses from the dancers in the first place.

Obligate yourself to adding more new and exciting square dance music for your calling engagements and then you will truly make your square dance event an over the top dance to be remembered by all!

As always, you can contact me at any time you have a square dance caller question, or if you have a comment that you might like to add.

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 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.

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.