Caller Training Handouts

Barry Clasper (barry at clasper dot ca)
Last Update
2023-11-02 17:53:49

In years past, people getting started in calling could order a collection of materials from CALLERLAB called the "Starter Kit For Newer Callers". It was a hardcopy 3-ring binder, assembled by hand in the Home Office and shipped via post for $25. The binder included:

  • the Basic, Mainstream and Plus Lists, Definitions, and Timing
  • the Formation and Arrangement Pictograms
  • the Basic, Mainstream and Plus Standard Applications documents
  • several caller training handouts.

Recently, the Caller Training Committee produced a new streamlined and simplified version called "Starter Kit for New Callers". The new kit is available on the CALLERLAB website at Starter Kit For New Callers. This new document is a complete rewrite with a change in focus from "Newer" to "New". It is aimed at giving a prospective or new caller an introduction to what calling is all about. The topics include: Circular Choreography, Understanding the Square, Using the Chicken Plucker, Calling to Music, First Singing Call, Introduction to Modules, and Calling to Two Couples. In the final "What's Next?" section, there are several pages of possible goals and relevant references.

All of the program material (Lists, Definitions, Timing, Standard Applications, Pictograms, etc.) can be obtained through the Callerlab website. The KnowledgeBase Program Documents Page aggregates pointers to these materials in a single page categorized by program.

Most of the caller training handouts from the original "Starter Kit for Newer Callers" along with other similar documents are now available in the list below. The documents are categorized under the broad topics: Managing Difficulty, Music, Choreography, Smooth Dancing, and General. The list titles are links to the document PDFs.

List of Caller Training Handouts
  • Music
    Music As Used By Callers
    You don't have to be a professional musician to work as a caller, but there are things you need to know to perform effectively.
    Developing the Skill of Pre-Cueing
    Pre-cueing effectively allows the dancers to dance properly to the music; as much as possible, the dancers begin dance movements with the phrase of the music.
  • Choreography
    Definitions of Terminology
    Short definitions of the terminology commonly used in square dance tutorial materials.
    When starting out as callers, we need to be able to control the choreography as well as controlling the degree of difficulty. While there are many ways by which this can be accomplished, one of the early ways is through the use of modules. A module is defined as a call or series of calls which will move the dancers from one known FASR to the same or different but known FASR (see Definitions Sheet).
    Sight Resolution Logic Path
    This flow chart depicts the decision-making process in sight resolution.
    Sight Resolutions from Ed Foote
    This paper from Ed Foote describes several common sight resolution techniques.
    Remembering Primary and Secondary Couples
    Hints For Remembering the Primary and Secondary Couples in 3 Squares
    Isolated Sight
    Tips in using the Isolated Sight method.
  • Smooth Dancing
    Smooth Body Flow
    Smooth dancing is always our goal. This handout outlines the components that contribute to it.
    Structured Timing of Commands
    Sheet shows an approach for diagramming the optimum timing of commands with respect to the music.
    In order to dance continuously to the music, dancers need to hear each call at just the right time. This paper discusses the three main issues: the number of beats to say each call, the time the dancers need to think about the call, and the number of beats needed to dance each call.
    The Balancing Act
    The relationship between Timing, Music, and Choreography is a balancing act that callers must master to be effective.
  • Managing Difficulty
    Dealing With Difficulty
    Dancers want to succeed, but at the same time they want to feel they have accomplished something worthy. This means that one of the most important tasks of a caller is to manage the difficulty of the choreography so as to present the optimum level of challenge.
    Helper Words For Callers
    One element of managing the difficulty of the dance is to provide "helper words" or cues to help the dancers through the more sticky parts of a figure.
    How Hard Will It Be?
    Planning the difficulty of your material in advance.
  • General
    Hints For Callers
    This handout from Ed Foote provides tips on general appearance and behavior, music, choreography, singing calls, teaching, sight calling, and more.
    Tim Marriner's Caller Training Handouts
    The late Tim Marriner published on his website many of the handouts he provided at his caller schools. They cover a wide array of training topics.