If you are thinking of becoming a Mentor for a new caller, this booklet is designed to help a more experienced caller to work with a new caller. If a friend wants to learn to call, the experienced caller can just give them a record and help them learn a singing call. However, callers know that there is more to calling than memorizing a singing call. If the experienced caller wants to really help, they need to become a Mentor. This booklet will provide ideas for being a Mentor to a new caller. The committee expects that the Mentor will work with the student caller for a period of time that can be up to two years. The new caller would become more independent over that time, but could consult with the Mentor when needed.
A potential caller may get started by trying a singing call at an amateur night, by teaching square dancing in combination with called recordings, or by developing an interest in choreography. Most often the new/potential caller sings a singing call at a club dance and is encouraged by their dancer friends to continue learning to call. The new caller does not yet have a complete idea of the complexity of calling and needs guidance. As a Mentor, you can provide that help, but may yourself want some guidance. CALLERLAB’s Caller Training Committee hopes that you will be able to use this booklet as a framework.
First, if a new caller has successfully performed one or more singing calls, they should be encouraged to understand the complexities of learning more about calling. A recommended step would be to have the new caller buy the Starter Kit which is available from CALLERLAB at a cost of $25. This kit includes names and pictograms of formations, names and pictograms of arrangements, some definitions of common terms used by callers, the Standard Basic and Mainstreams Handbook, and copies of the call definitions. The information in this kit gives a new caller a sense of how complex calling can be. This kit is an excellent reference tool. You, as a Mentor, will be the person who can help the new caller use this tool.
Each section of this “Mentor's Guide” talks about important skills or knowledge that a caller should have. There are also homework sheets and suggested exercises that the mentor caller can use to help the new caller.
CALLERLAB’s Caller Training Committee has tried to put the sections in a logical progression, but you may want to vary your approach. The order is not set in stone to be followed exactly. It is designed to be delivered at your discretion so that the student caller can build upon a foundation of knowledge and skills. The student caller should not rush through the sections, but should take the time to master the skills in each chapter. The mentor needs to be able to advise the student caller that he/she needs more practice in a certain skill, and ask for completed homework that shows the skill is being mastered.
Calling is delivering commands to music with timing so that the dancers can move smoothly to the music and commands without stopping. Because music is so important, our first section is designed to introduce the student caller to music structure and help him/her deliver calls in a way that relates to the music.
Understanding the calls is mandatory to a caller's delivery of smooth flowing patter. Too often a new caller wants to become a "sight caller" and rushes past needed skills to work on sight resolution. We, the committee members who are writing these guidelines, want to stress that without proper foundation knowledge of what the calls accomplish, a caller cannot become an effective "sight caller".
Finally, please understand that members of the Caller Training Committee are interested in helping you to mentor a new caller. If you are confused by any of the content, please contact us through the CALLERLAB Home Office at 1-785-783-3665.
Thank you for becoming a Mentor.